For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.
(2nd Timothy 1:7)

I can write about fear with insight...

because for the first half of my life I was one of the world's most fearful human beings. I grew up dominated by feelings of inferiority, insecurity and inadequacy. In grade school I was afraid of bullies. In high school I felt inferior to, and was uneasy in the presence of everyone: athletes, intellectuals, pretty girls, kids on the drama team and even the pot-heads.

When I left home in 1974 to begin training to be a pastor at Moody Bible Institute, I went as a weak, insecure, inferiority ridden young man. I woke up everyday of my young life consumed with a vague dread that something bad would happen to me that I would be inadequate to handle. The night before I preached my first sermon at age nineteen I was so frightened I got down on my knees and cried out, "Oh, God! Why did I ever agree to do this?"  I was so 

scared during my first sermon that I had no vocal variety, no energy, no dynamic at all! I remember my hands shaking as I turned the pages of my Bible. My mouth was so dry I could hardly swallow. I recorded that sermon on tape and it was so bad that I couldn't bring myself to listen to it for over twenty years. I was such a wimp that during my second year of college my girlfriend broke up with me saying something to the effect of, "Rod, I can't respect you. You don't stand up to me or lead me. You're a weak man."

Having read the above, I think you will agree that I began life as a wimp's wimp. (And now that I've told you about it, I confess I'm a little afraid you'll lose respect for me!) But I praise God that today, because of His gracious working in my life, I am no longer dominated by feelings of worthlessness, inferiority, anxiety, fear or inadequacy. I still have to do battle with these inner enemies, but they no longer control me as they once did. I do not live every moment with that agonizing pain of inferiority deep in my soul. I have good news for you. You don't have to live the rest of your life with the pain of inferiority or anxiety or shyness. I want to share with you what God has taught me, through His word and my experience, about how to conquer your fears.

You need to admit that you are afraid. The major difficulty in doing so is that fear is a terribly painful emotion and, therefore, many who are dominated by it never think about it. Their lives are controlled by shyness or insecurity or inferiority or fear of rejection, but they stuff those feelings deep inside and refuse to face them. We also find it difficult to admit our fears because doing so makes us realize we don't "have it all together" and our pride gets in the way of an honest self-assessment. I have discovered that many people are simply not in the habit of being honest with themselves. I am constantly advising people, "Feel what you're feeling or you'll be totally controlled by your feelings." If you feel timid or shy, unless you consciously choose to "feel what you're feeling," it will rule your life.

If you want to conquer your fears you must begin by facing all the things you are afraid of. If you are afraid of death, admit it (Like the comedian Woody Allen who said, "I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens.") If you are deeply threatened by misunderstanding or criticism, acknowledge it. If you are afraid of praying out loud, of arguing with your wife, of failing as a mother or of growing old, face it honestly. To overcome fear you will have to be as honest as the little boy who was given a part in his church's Easter play. He was supposed to say, "It is I, be not afraid." But when he came out on stage he said, "Itís me and I'm scared!"

The defining moment in my journey toward courage came when my girlfriend broke up with me because I was such a wimp. It hurt to hear it, but I knew she was right.  And I said to myself, "If I can't even lead one woman, I certainly will not be able to lead an entire church as a pastor. I had better learn what it means to be a man and I had better conquer my insecurities." That personal admission of fear and weakness was the first step on a life-changing journey to inner strength, confidence, courage and boldness.

Even today, whenever I start to feel anxious or afraid I try to immediately acknowledge it to myself, to God, and frequently to my close friends and coworkers so they can pray for me. I have learned that it is a greater sign of weakness to be afraid and not admit it, than to be afraid and admit it!

James 4:2b says, "You do not have because you do not ask." Not even God can give you victory over inferiority, or fill your heart with courage, if you refuse to admit you need help and ask Him for it! Therefore, to have victory over your fears you must begin with an honest admission that you are afraid. All growth begins with an honest admission of weakness.

An essential key to overcoming fear is to realize that you do not have to be dominated by fear and anxiety.  John 14:27 makes this clear.  "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."  Jesus commands us not to be troubled or afraid.  The Greek word for "troubled" means to be stirred up, agitated, disturbed, unsettled or intimidated.  And the Greek term translated "fearful" means to be cowardly.  Since Jesus commands us not to be afraid, it must be possible for us not to be consumed with anxiety, feelings of inadequacy and cowardice. 

This is a wonderful truth that I was not aware of for many years.  My earliest and most dominant emotions were of hurt and fear.  Until a few years ago I had never lived a day without being controlled by paralyzing feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.  Therefore I assumed that anxiety was a normal part of life.  It had never occurred to me that I had any choice in the matter.  But when I realized that God did not intend for His children to live under the bondage of fear, I stepped onto the path of freedom. 

The good news is that Jesus Christ offers you the privilege of living His peace.  Read Jesus' encouraging words from John 14:27 again.  "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you."  The reason Jesus can command us not to let our hearts be troubled or afraid is because He offers to give us His perfect peace at all times, no matter how difficult our circumstances.  The peace Jesus wants to give us is not the temporary, worldly peace that comes from human efforts in positive thinking.  Jesus' peace is the very same divine peace that He Himself experienced.  Even as Jesus promised to give His disciples His own personal peace, He knew that within a few hours He faced arrest, torture and crucifixion.  Jesus' peace was so great that it kept Him free from inner agitation and fear even as He anticipated the most terrifying and agonizing death possible.  And Jesus promises to give you and me the same perfect, unshakable peace that He Himself enjoyed during His most terrible time of suffering.  My friend, Jesus, wants to set you free from all your fears!

I can testify honestly that I no longer live in bondage to fear and inferiority.  I am still often tempted to worry or to give way to feelings of inadequacy.  But when I turn to Jesus for His peace, He gives it to me.

-Dr. Rod Rogers


Dr. Rod Rogers received his diploma from Moody Bible Institute, B.A. from John Brown University, Master of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, and Doctor of Ministry degree from New Geneva Theological Seminary.

Rod is married to Marisa.  They have a daughter, Rachel, and a son, Stephen.  Rod's hobbies include reading and sailing.
 

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