Fear will push you to avert your eyes.
Fear will make you think you have nothing to say.
Fear will create a buzz that makes it impossible to meditate.Fear will create a fog that makes it so you can do nothing but meditate.
Fear seduces us into losing our temper.Fear belittles us into accepting unfairness.
Fear doesn’t like strangers and people who don’t look or act like us, and most of all.
Fear doesn’t like the unknown.
Fear causes us to carelessly make typos, or obsessively look for them.
Fear pushes us to fit in, so we won’t be noticed, but it also pushes us to rebel and to not be trustworthy, so we won’t be on the hook to produce.
Fear is subtle enough to trick us into thinking it isn’t pulling the strings.Fear is subtle enough to convince us that it doesn’t exist.Fear is subtle enough to make us believe that it’s not the cause of, “I don’t feel like it.”
When in doubt, look for the fear. —Seth Godin
It was early on, in our role as Senior Pastors. I was sitting at the dining room table, listening to a couple in our church comment to my husband on some of the things they felt our church needed from me, as ‘the pastors’ wife’. There were several things on their list and I remember allowing their voices to drift into oblivion as an almost familiar voice began to pound in my head…’not enough! not enough! not enough!’. I remember slowly removing myself from the table …and making some excuse about attending to the kids. It was not that long ago we had left the comfort zone of youth ministry of which I was familiar and confident, to enter the scary world of ‘real’ ministry to play with the big kids where adults reigned supreme and my inadequacies mixed with young motherhood and navigating this unknown world made me feel completely uncomfortable and unqualified. That voice was to become a loud pounding voice that I was yet to recognise it as intimidation. I was flabbergasted that someone in my church should choose to complain that he had felt ignored by the pastor’s wife because she had raced past him on a Sunday morning, trying to pacify her crying 8 month old daughter, and calm down her two year old toddler who had just face planted into the stage. I had no need to justify my actions but I couldn’t put my finger on why this complaint bothered me so much. The reality is, those well-meaning ‘messengers’ who sat at my table eating my food and munching on their lack of wisdom as they passed on their ‘concerns’ had become a tool in the enemy’s hands to allow a spirit of fear to wreak havoc in my heart. I don’t blame them. They loved the church and their well meaning intentions disguised the arrow the enemy was aiming at my vulnerable heart. I am not as susceptible to his strategy as I used to be but the enemy is not consistent in his method and can still find a target if I am not awake.
That very week, a messenger of hope to my somewhat confused heart came in the form of a book. I somehow ‘happened’ to picked a book ‘Breaking Intimidation’ by John Bevere, which would become a weapon to combat the enemy’s full force attack on my life to shut me down, disempower me and effectively contain all that God wanted to do with me. This book equipped me with the tools to not only recognise what was going on in my heart but also how to deal with it. God took me on a journey of learning to recognise and SEE the spiritual realm of intimidation and manipulation and the means by which the enemy intended to shut me up and shut me down.
I have never thought of myself as a fearful person but when I look at the symptoms of fear and the things I prefer to avoid rather than confront, then fear has definitely been a part of my story and will continue to be as long as I attempt to pursue the call of God on my life and be more than ordinary then my heart is a target. My fear of heights is real but not life threatening. My fear of driving past Semi-trailers is real but not life threatening. But being seduced by intimidation…that has the power to knock the life and breath and hopes and dreams out of me.
Experience has taught me to avoid things that make me feel uncomfrotable. It has also taught me to avoid things that are not clearly fearful but confusing and disempowering. Experience has laid down lies that fear must have its way. I am learning that To keep my heart pure I must not just ignore it or see past it but confront it. Intimidation is subtle and it is a spirit and must be dealt with spiritually. I will never see it in the natural. If I knew it was fear I would smash it, push past it or run away from it but sometimes I embrace it as if it is a familiar friend or a comfortable jacket. The power of fear is in its ability to make me second guess myself, confuse my understanding of what it is I am dealing with, weaken my resolve and hold me captive to the present or my past, to the opinion of others or the dialogue in my head. The subtlety is why I can be intimidated and manipulated by fear and not even know it.
When I stop executing and obeying and trusting and walking by faith, it is a spirit of timidity that has contaminated my faith.
A young Timothy had the call of God on his life and the authority to pastor his church with the gifts he had been given, but was being targeted by a spirit of intimidation. He was finding himself dealing with confusion, second guessing what he needed to do. He was feeling weak when strong personalities were pushing and pulling at his leadership. He was feeling weary from the pressing needs of people, motivated by need not love, and the ability to to see was being blinded by his focus on what he couldn’t do rather than what he had been called to be. Paul bRing courage and clarity …’God has not given you a spirit of fear….but of love, power and a sound mind’
I have felt that subtlety of timidity fall like a fog on my life many times…the words and opinions of powerful personalities, well meaning influential opinions, pulling the strings on my heart, instead of faith and trust in the Saviour whose thoughts towards me are the one I should be looking for.
This list of symptoms is easy to recognise:
As a young mum, lacking in confidence and desperate to do right and good and fearful of making mistakes, I would find myself sifting through a thousand pieces of advice, or googling the perfect mother advice columns only causing me to second guess every decision I made and question my intuition with others’ words of ‘wisdom’ trying to prove my worth, changing my mind and confusing my poor kids with my wavering convictions and second guessing everything I dI’d.
As a Pastor, there are so many personalities and needs and opinions. Fear creeps in unnoticed and begins to sway the heart away from the Saviour to the hearts of those whose voices are loudest and strongest and even wrong, or needs are real but not where I am meant to be leaning. Jesus has taught me by example…he only did what His Father bidded…He was not lead by need or hurt or opinion but only by the Father’s voice.
As a friend, keen to be loved and accepted and wanted, I can move away from the values that are core to my calling and compromise my future simply because I don’t want to lose the tangible for the intangible and the natural for the supernatural.
Fear is subtle and deceptive in all my relationships, disempowering me with subtle reasoning to pull some close and push others away and the heart is easily manipulated and swayed by reason and doubt.
The list goes on, as it does for you, as a mum, as a wife, as an artist, a writer, a leader, a daughter, a friend, a grandmother and any arena of life you feel called to serve, to influence, to move forward or step out in faith.
Over the last few months I have felt that spirit of fear come against me again. It comes with new seasons and old, challenges and opportunities, but it doesn’t look like fear, because fear is subtle.
‘God has not given me a spirit of fear, but love power and a sound mind.
‘When in doubt, look for fear ‘My heart is the target.”