What are You Afraid of? Overcoming the Trap

Being Afraid – People Pleasing 

Fearing People is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety. Proverbs 29:25 9NLT)
People Pleasing

What are you afraid of? Do you fear real things or are you more afraid of the feelings and perceptions of other people? I came across a list of the top ten things people are afraid of that Steven Nash of the Self Help Collective complied. He developed the list of the top ten fears from the top ten fear-related searches at search engines such as Google.

  1. Fear of flying
  2. Fear of public speaking
  3. Fear of heights
  4. Fear of the dark
  5. Fear of intimacy
  6. Fear of death
  7. Fear of failure
  8. Fear of rejection
  9. Fear of spiders
  10. Fear of commitments

Can you identify with any of these top ten fears? Maybe you are afraid of different things or can add to the list. I am sure there are a number of things that all of us have learned to be afraid of. Perhaps you do not like spiders because one crawled on you or bit you. Maybe you don’t really like the idea of flying because it places you totally out of control or you are afraid of injury and or death that could occur with a crash. I know that I am afraid of heights to a certain degree because I do not like pain and I associate heights with falling. What I found the most interesting about the complied list was that five of the top ten cited things people are afraid of deal directly with other people and their concerns about how other people may feel or receive them, in other words the perceptions of other people’s thoughts.

I have spent a lot of my life trying to make other people happy and or being overly concerned about what other people thought of me. I really just want everyone to get along or be pleased with me and have often had to remind myself of the quote by monk and poet, John Lydgate.

”You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
”• John Lydgate

So I, as a card-carrying member of the People Pleaser Anonymous Group, must admit that my greatest fears or things I am afraid of the most would also be people. A lot of you may also be afraid of people to a certain point. We often get very caught up in what people may think whether it is true or not and if we allow it, other people’s perceptions can hamper everything we do. There is an old fable attributed to Aesop that tells of just how out of control things can get if we spend all of our time trying to do just the things that other people think we should.

A Man, a Boy, and a Donkey

One day long ago a man and his son left early in the day and began walking beside their donkey on the main road to the village on their way to the busy market. They were enjoying the beautiful day and walked at an easy pace moving gently up and down the road across the green countryside smelling the wildflower’s light scent as they went. They had not gone far on their trip when they passed a countryman going in the opposite direction. They bid him a good day and as they passed they heard the countryman mutter loudly, “You fools, what is a donkey for except to ride upon?”

The man immediately stopped the trio and wanting to please the countryman and show others how smart he was, he put the boy on the donkey and they went upon their way once again. It wasn’t long however before they passed by a group of field workers who were resting from their work in the shade for a moment. As they moved by the group one of the field workers spoke loud enough for the man to hear, “See that lazy youth, he lets his father walk while he rides.”

Upon hearing this, the man stopped the trio again and ordered the boy to get off the donkey and then he hopped upon the donkey’s back as they once again continued to head to the market. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women hanging out the wash. The man and his son gave a wave to the women and as they passed, one of the women said loudly to the other, “Shame on that lazy lout of a man to let his poor little son trudge alongside of the donkey while his father rides in ease.”

Well, the man was not sure what to do at this point, but at last stopped the trio again reached down to the boy and lifted him up in front of him on the donkey. They settled in once again heading to the market. They had gone far enough now that they could see the village just up ahead and there were more and more people along the roadside. The man saw that people were beginning to jeer at them and point. So he stopped and asked what they were pointing and scoffing about. The men they asked said, “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey with you and your hulking son?”

The man stopped the trio again and he and his son dismounted the donkey and tried to think what they should do. They thought and thought until at last they saw a tree by the town gate entrance and decided to cut it down and make a pole from it. They tied the donkey’s feet to the pole and raised the pole with the donkey up to their shoulders. The donkey’s weight was heavy and the animal was not happy about this new predicament but the trio once again headed towards the market.

They went along amid the throngs of people who had stopped their own work and journeys and stood gawking, pointing, and laughing until they reached the Market Bridge. The donkey was getting to be a burden to carry because of his weight and he was fighting to get himself loose. As the group made their way across the bridge the donkey was able to get one of his feet loose and kicked his leg out. This caused the boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the donkey fell over the bridge and into the river below and because of his tied together fore-feet the donkey drowns.

The man and his son stood in horror as they realized how they had lost a very valuable asset. An old man who was following them was heard to say, “That will teach you.” “Please all and you will please none”.

Living our lives afraid of what people may think will often cause us much heartache if we allow it to rule our lives and determine how we think, how we act, and ultimately what we do. This leads us to the focus verse this week as we look to how to overcome being afraid of people.

Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety. Proverbs 29:25 (NLT)

Being Afraid – Overcoming the Trap

It is so hard to overcome the trap of living our lives to please others. We are constantly bombarded with the world telling us what we should do and how we should do it. Turn on the television, radio, or open a magazine or newspaper and there will be what we should eat, how we should dress, what car we should drive, where to take our vacation, how to fix our hair, and even what we should be afraid of! The list could go on and on but if we live our lives attempting to follow all the world tells us we will look as foolish as the man, the boy, and the donkey and ultimately our greatest assets will become lost much like the family’s donkey.

It is difficult to not listen to those around us who we can see and follow worldly advice over the invisible God we are to trust. We often spend copious amounts of time invested in worldly suggestions because we are afraid of being judged, ridiculed, or pointed at. When we become afraid of people and their thoughts we lose the fear we should have for God. If we will learn to trust God fully, trust His word, and place our faith completely in Him over the world we will find the peace we need in ourselves to keep moving forward in this earthly world. Placing our trust in God is an investment into eternity. Pleasing people becomes a trap of problems that can multiply quickly and get out of hand.

Abram and Sarai saw just that as Abram convinced Sarai to tell the Egyptians she was his sister and not his wife. Abram acted out of fear and his fear caused his problems to multiply and compound. If he has trusted God completely he could have saved himself and others much problems. (Genesis 12:11-13)

When we allow ourselves to be afraid of people whether we are afraid of them physically or mentally we are forgetting the eternal consequences and who is ultimately in charge of giving us life. If we want to overcome being afraid of people we must trust God who has given us life. It is God who we must answer to and it is He who we must respect and trust. It is God who gives eternal consequences not man. (Luke 12:4-5)

I read an article earlier this week in Backpacker Magazine about how to mentally prepare yourself for a solo trip. There are many things real and imagined that people can be afraid of when backpacking by themselves. The article discusses several things that can cause people to be afraid and offered suggestions of how to prepare and overcome them. If bears are the issue then make sure you have prepared to pack your food up in a bear proof canister and then hike it far away from your campsite before going to bed. If you are afraid of people, literally such as attacks, bring mace. If it is just noises then bring your i-Pod and the bumps in the night won’t create an alarm of fear. The article ended by saying that if you prepare yourself with the equipment needed both physically and mentally you will find yourself rewarded with a peace of mind and body and will have assurance that the wilderness is the safest place to be. I pondered upon this and related it back to this week’s focus verse.

We can equip ourselves properly with people-proof canisters of scriptures in the Bible and learned lessons of those who have gone before us. We can arm ourselves before, during, and after with prayer and keep ourselves surrounded with prayer warriors. And when we get caught in the dark we can sing out the loud praises of light through song. When frightened by the world and its view if we have made proper preparation physically and mentally the resulting reward is a strong relationship with God that will fully equip us to be a God pleaser and not a people pleaser.  This provides us the peace of mind and body that will give us the safety of  insurance in the temporary wilderness world we live in knowing that we will one day have the full peace of assurance that we will never be afraid of anything again.

Invest in the eternal and overcome the trap with respect, reverence, and trust in God for only He can turn harm intended by others into good. (Genesis 50:20)

Have a great week remembering to please God in all that you do.

Love in Christ,

E.J.

Post Script:

David Crowder’s song I Am on his newest album Neon Steeple reminds us all that no matter what we are afraid of that not only can we hold tightly to God He is holding on to us too.

I am
Holding on to You
I am
Holding on to You
In the middle of the storm
I am holding on
I am

What are Your Thoughts? Join Us in Discussion?

What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of people? How have you been able to overcome your fear of people and place your fear in God? Join us in discussion on this topic or other related topics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How God is working through your life?