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September 4, 1997

Whom Do You Fear?

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Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. PROVERBS 29:25
Most of us would have to admit that we probably care a bit too much about what other people think of us. But an occasional self-image crisis isn’t the same as living in constant fear of others’ opinions. It’s natural to wonder what a coworker might think of a decision you made or an assignment you completed. But if you are confident in your abilities and, ultimately, in your worth in Christ, such thoughts usually are temporary.
It’s an entirely different story, however, to second-guess everything you do for fear that your colleagues and supervisors will think you aren’t good enough. Such behavior is unhealthy. It’s unproductive. It’s crippling. As Proverbs says, it’s a snare.
This doesn’t mean that you can disregard your boss’s directions or the constructive criticism of a coworker. Nor does it mean that you should care nothing of what others think about your work, especially if what you do is critical to the success of a particular project or to the overall well-being of your company. But it does mean that if you are overly concerned about what others think—to the detriment of your own emotional, mental, and spiritual health—you need to do something about it.
It may be that the root of the problem lies with an overly demanding boss. It’s extremely stressful to work for a supervisor who constantly and unnecessarily berates you and your work. If such a situation has turned you from a confident, productive employee into a fearful, anxious worker, it might be time to change your environment.
But it also might be that the problem is with you. You might be so concerned with what others think of you that you have allowed your focus to move away from being like Jesus in every aspect of your life. Instead, you spend your days comparing yourself to other people, trying to live up to their expectations, and dreading their negative feedback.
If this describes you, it’s time to stop the cycle. It’s time to put other people and their expectations and opinions—unrealistic or not—aside and start trusting God. Only with Him will you find peace, safety, and freedom from the crippling fear of man.

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