How to Overcome the Fear of Failure

One of my favorite descriptions of fear is an unpleasant feeling triggered by the perception of danger, real or imagined. So, fear can be determined by your discernment or how much insight you have.

It is natural to feel fear. In fact, fear is necessary for our survival. The fear of a lion running toward you triggers an internal chemical reaction that produces adrenaline, putting you in “fight or flight” survival mode.

Another kind of fear is emotional fear. One of the most common fears borne out of emotion is the fear of failure. This fear is a state of mind that causes a lack of desire to take action because of the perception of an undesirable outcome. 

What Causes the Fear of Failure?

The fear of failure causes anxiety.

Students may be anxious about failing an exam because they did not study well. A rookie athlete may be nervous about playing poorly in front of a capacity crowd.

For most people, the underlying reason for fear of failure is shame or embarrassment. Failure makes us feel worthless and insecure.

The biblical account of Moses in the book of Exodus is an example of how anxiety can birth the fear of failure. God called Moses to deliver the children of Israel from their bondage in Egypt, but anxiety caused Moses to fear and question God. (Exodus 3:10-22).

3 Reasons Why Moses Was Afraid

1. Self-doubt. Moses did not believe in his abilities. “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” he said (Exodus 3:11). He did not think that he was qualified enough for the task. His opinion of himself was as a murderer and fugitive. God saw him as a leader.

Many of us are this way. We look down on ourselves, but why should we? We are made in the image and likeness of God (Philippians 4:13).

2. Fear of rejection. Moses feared that the Israelites would reject him and doubt that God had sent him (Exodus 4:1).

3. Fear of the unknown. People often ask what will happen if something doesn’t work out. But what if it does? Remember, fear is an unpleasant feeling triggered by the perception of danger, real or imagined. 

Moses was so frightened by the thought of having to convince the Israelites that God had sent him to confront Pharaoh and deliver them from Egypt that he begged God to look for someone else:

“But he said, ‘Oh, my Lord, send, I pray, some other person.’”

Exodus 4:13

With his human reasoning and imagination, he could not imagine himself being successful, as the Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for 430 years at this point.

Even if our fear is fact-based, we must believe that we can overcome any obstacle because God is on our side. Like a toddler learning how to walk, we must learn to get back up no matter how many times we fail.

What To Do When You are Afraid?

In times of fear, there are a couple of things that can help you overcome fear.

1. Realize that God will always be with you. 

God has promised He will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6-8, Jeremiah 29:11, 1 Peter 5:7), He tells Moses: 

“But I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God upon this mountain.”

Exodus 3:12

Be confident in the belief that God will guide you through your fear. 

2. Do not lean on your own understanding. 

Understanding is your perception, and negative perceptions will lead to fear. Moses was afraid because his perception of the magnitude of the assignment was on his limited knowledge of God’s ability. He had to learn to trust God and let God show him the way.

Trust in God to lead you and guide you as He has promised, and let Him work in you and through you to overcome your fear and fulfill your purpose. (Proverbs 3:5-6, 2 Timothy 1:7, Philippians 4:13)

Remember that God always has a solution. In Exodus 4:14-19, God is angry at Moses for doubting. But like the good father, He provides a solution: Aaron, the brother of Moses, is to accompany him as his designated speaker. God has a solution to every fear.

Notice that God does not take away the burden from Moses. God may not always work the way you want Him to, but you can rest assured that as long as you trust Him, He will make a Way.

3. Find solace in the Word and prayer. 

Be anxious for nothing (Philippians 4:6-7). Meditate on the Word of God day and night. (Joshua 1:8). 

Your mind is a battleground. Guard it against all imaginations and suggestions of the evil one, who wants you to focus on your circumstances rather than God’s promises. 

Fear comes in all forms, but as children of God, we have a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. Revel in the peace of knowing that your heavenly father cares for you, and be reminded of the inspired words of the Apostle Paul that teach us to keep our minds focused on good thoughts only:

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Philippians 4:8

Leave a Comment