We, as people, have an interesting relationship with fear. Fear is something we run from and try to avoid—while at the same time, there are many who seek out experiences focused on inducing fear. Even in those fear-inducing experiences like haunted houses or scary movies, our initial reactions to fear aren’t to stay in those feelings but rather to run away and get out! But, there is some validity in allowing ourselves to experience healthy fear in order to learn from it. Healthy fear tells us that there’s something wrong, and encourages us to take action.
- Fear of the Lord – You’ve probably taught on this before and have explained this “fear” as a massive reverence or feeling of awe. While this is true in many cases as that reverence encourages us to take action there is also another kind of fear element as we consider the Lord as truly bigger, stronger, and more powerful than anything we could possible imagine. In the Psalms and in Proverbs we see the fear of the Lord linked to wisdom, the beginning of knowledge, treasure, and prolonged life. Cultivating a healthy fear of the Lord will cause us to walk towards Him and into life, wisdom, and knowledge.
- Fear of Failure – Hang with me on this one. Normally when you think about a “fear of failure” you think about that fear keeping you from trying something new. That’s not what I’m referring to here. Rather, I think this one is a healthy fear that leads us to a strong work ethic and to do everything we can to fulfill our calling with excellence. Our calling is a big one, and so we should want to succeed in it.
- Fear of Numbers – There are two extremes when we talk about numbers in student ministry: the ministry is all about the attendance record or there’s such an aversion to the numbers that they’re avoided at all cost. Both of these extremes are a response to an unhealthy fear, and most often that fear is linked to a personal insecurity or someone else’s opinion of us. A healthy fear of numbers will drive you to action by keeping you away from these two extremes. It will help you see the value in numbers to help you set goals, evaluate, and track people while also keeping you from defining your identity according to a number on a spreadsheet.
- BONUS: Fear of Spiders – I had to include this one because they are sneaky, terrifying creatures who can get at you from any angle because of their ability to climb, jump, and spin webs. At least with snakes you generally know where to look. Healthy fear here will drive you to action to avoid, flail your arms wildly at first contact with a web, or squash when necessary.
Fear can be crippling in some instances, but it is meant to be your ally as it drives you to actions that will be beneficial to you. As you think about your student ministry, and your leadership, I want to challenge you to think of some fears that come to your mind. Instead of dismissing those fears as we often do, take the time consider what actions you need to take in response to them. This choice to act can save you from stress, give you new insight into a situation, or could be the solution to a problem that you’ve been looking to solve for a long time.
This post was written by Ben Trueblood, Director of Lifeway Students. Ben is passionate about investing in student ministry leaders like you. You can find more encouragement from Ben on his YouTube Channel, Student Ministry That Matters.