the shape of leadership

When to Face Your Fears (And When to Run)

Don’t be afraid to step into your divine destiny

Kent Ingle on September 4, 2018

Fear has gotten a bad rap. I know that sounds about as smart as saying a healthy diet consists of peanut butter, pizza and ramen noodles (sorry to break the news to college students). But fear is not moral; it is neither good nor bad. In fact, it is one of the things that reminds you and me we are alive.

Some general sense of fear is good. It keeps our hands from touching red-hot surfaces. It prevents us from climbing mountains without ropes (well, at least some of us). Fear tells us when to stay and when to run if we are in trouble. That’s actually the good kind of fear. It’s the function that keeps you and me out of harm’s way and helps us avoid unnecessary yet present danger.

But then there is another type of fear. This is the fear that inhibits our ability to experience the adventure of life. It tells us to say “no” when our answer should be “yes.” It tells us to stay when we know we really should go. It tells us to choose one thing when we really need to choose another.

The Fear of Regret

I remember an older man at my church when I was growing up. He was what you might call a grumpy, old man. This guy always seemed to be complaining about something. He was one of the guys you rarely wanted to be around for very long because it just wasn’t much fun.

One day, he told me in a random conversation how much regret he had in life. He knew he was supposed to choose another path in life, but it was risky. It might have worked out; it might not have worked out. Either way, he regretted taking the safe, predictable path because it robbed him of so much.

That was the first time in my life I remember realizing fear can have a devastating effect on life. I committed at a young age that whatever I decided to do, I was going to go for it. Even if I had to look failure in the eye, I was not going to back down. I didn’t want to get to the other side of life and wish I had made a different decision. I was going to go for it every time.

When you release yourself to live to the full potential of your divine design, you open yourself to new things, new people and a new perspective.

People often tell me just how exciting my journey has been. It’s a privilege and an honor every time I get to share my life’s story. I always remind people that each phase has felt like the summit of an adventure. Every step somehow seems to continue to lead to something new and different.

While I don’t plan on ending my current role anytime soon, I do know that everything is for a season. And during this season, I am going to lean in — even if I have to stare fear right in the face.

How to Turn Fear Into Fuel

So, here’s my advice to you if you feel paralyzed and held back by fear:

  • Just say “yes” to the opportunities God puts in front of you. You never know where it’s going to lead, but you can always trust His plan.
  • Choose the adventure. It’s way more exciting than playing it safe.
  • Expect the unexpected. Welcome the bumps and bruises along the way, trusting God to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28).
  • Look fear in the face. You’ll find it’s less powerful than you might think. Find courage in the promises of God’s Word. Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

When you release yourself to live to the full potential of your divine design, you open yourself to new things, new people and a new perspective. Nothing materially may change in your life at that moment. Yet your new thinking will affect your perceptions and decisions. And that will ultimately impact everything.

Fear becomes fuel when you realize it is simply a recognition that change is on the way. That’s why I believe fear is not something to avoid. Rather, it is something to accept — and even embrace.

If it weren’t for fear, you would have no way of knowing that what’s ahead will bring about something new in your life and will impact how you interact with the people around you. If you open yourself to viewing fear in that way, you can begin to see it is merely fuel for your journey, accelerating you toward the destination God designed you to reach.

I don’t want you to avoid fear. I want you to jump right into it. It’s where you’ll learn about yourself, what you really think and believe, and how willing you are to let God shape you in whatever situation and circumstances you encounter.

Fear is inevitable. You can either use fear as a soft cushion to land on or a springboard to leap from. The decision is yours. I’m cheering you on. Go for it!


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