Fear of Success

Psalm 56

How often are you gripped by fear so intense that it seems impossible to escape it?

I would imagine most people do not wake up with an overwhelming, overbearing sense of fear whether or not the world is going to end, whether or not they’re going to get fired from their job, or whether or not they’re not going to be able to take their next breath.

While these big issues in life are important, the majority of our fear is not based in them. We concern ourselves more with the fear of what happens in daily situations rather than the grand scheme of things.

I could be wrong, but it appears to me that most of us do not live in a constant awareness of our fear. Most do not act paranoid about what could happen–especially in everyday situations.

Instead, we are paranoid about what is going to happen.

There is a difference.

That difference is awareness.

The first is a fear of the unforeseen. It is being scared of a potential outcome, not necessarily something that will happen, but something that has an outside possibility of coming true that we have no control over.

The second is a fear of reality. It is being scared of what we know to be true. It is being scared of what we cannot change or control. Fear sets in when we realize that whatever we trusted no longer has the guarantee it promised.

What if, instead of the usual “Your afraid of [fill in your own personal, negative fear]… just trust God and it will go away” mentality, we viewed this chapter in a positive sense?

Follow me, here.

Personally, the older I become the more and more I see past the fears of my youth and begin to see the root causes of those fears. I am no longer afraid of the dark; I realized that I was afraid of what came out of the dark rather than the dark itself. I am no longer afraid of spiders; I realized that I was afraid of what the spider caused–pain.

One of the fears that grips me is atychiphobia–the fear of failure. What I am beginning to realize is that failure is not the root cause of this fear. It is actually quite the opposite. The root cause is based in the fear of success.

We have been created with the ability to create and succeed, and that scares us to death.

It is not the fear that we will waste our potential that paralyzes us; it is the fear that we will ultimately achieve and become what we were created for. We are afraid that we will be put in situations to accomplish things greater than our ability to preform.

Look at this psalm in that context.

David is lamenting how his enemies surround him. He is being oppressed from every side. He is losing the battle. Failure is already on him. Why should he fear something that is already present?

David puts his trust in God regardless of the circumstances. Regardless of whether or not he is winning the battle, David trusts God.

What if David understands the idea of the innate fear of success? Although the situation he is a part of is not in his favor, he understands that this is not the ultimate failure. He understands that he has been created for something greater. He understands that he has been created to succeed, not to fail, but not to fear the success he has been created for.

He will not fear failure. He will not fear success. He will trust in the LORD.

Because, as verse 9 says, God is for him.

And God is for you too.


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