One of my daughter's favorite books is The Monster at the End of this Book, starring “lovable, furry, old Grover.” It's a fun book for kids … about a monster that doesn't really exist.
I've recently given some thought to a “monster” in our culture: the fear of man. This monster exists in our minds, and it paralyzes many believers. I've sensed it frequently in my own life. How do you know if your life is characterized by an unhealthy fear of man?
The following characteristics might indicate that you are struggling with the fear of man. If you find that these characteristics pervade your life, you may even be experiencing spiritual or emotional paralysis as you are held hostage by these feelings.
Characteristics of the fear of man:
- Preoccupation with what people think about what you say and do … even people that are “fringe” people in your life
- A desire to control and manipulate others, so that you won't look bad when they mess up (children, spouse, friends, co-workers)
- Failure to follow through on conversations you know you should have–both good and bad
- Oversensitivity to criticism and a tendency to take things personally … even from the people that love you the most
- Qualifying your statements so much that people aren't quite sure what you're getting at
- Belligerence that comes across as overconfidence, so that no one will know how insecure you feel inside
- Utter fear of being a failure or of ever failing at all
- Judging the motives of others and resenting their success
- Failure to lead consistently, according to the roles God has given you (church, family, work, etc.)
- Reluctance to share the gospel consistently–with those who know Christ and with those who don't
You may wonder how I came up with this list. Good question! It's largely because I've seen so many of these characteristics in my own life.
Next week, in part 2, we'll look at hope for those who find themselves ensnared by this monster.