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Fear Of Success: "I’m Afraid Of Being Great"

Updated: Nov 3, 2023



Why do we shrink ourselves? Why do talk ourselves “out of it” or sabotage ourselves? Are we afraid of being great? Are we afraid of success? Why are we afraid of being our best, especially what God desires us to be?



Let’s park here for a moment and talk about the fear of success. Kristen Moe shared good information regarding to fear of success in her blog titled “Fear of Success: Why we’re Sometimes Afraid of Being Our Best”.


She defined fear of success like this:

“Fear of success is the concern that once we achieve something new, we’ll be incapable of sustaining it or may suffer because of it. Most of the time, we’re not consciously aware of this fear. Fear of success is not necessarily the fear of reaching that deeply personal achievement unique to each individual. Instead, it is most often the fear of the possible change or consequences of success. It is an anticipation of how others — and oneself — will respond to the triumph. The concern is that achieving success will come at the cost of something else valued in one's life. In many ways, it's similar to the fear of failure.”


Do you identify yourself with these features of this particular fear? Kristen shared some ways how fear of success can affect our lives:


Avoidance

The person may avoid being the center of attention, being praised, or use other avoidance strategies.




Procrastination

The person may delay starting and/or completing a project. As a result of procrastinating, the opportunity may be missed altogether, or the end product may be lackluster.


Perfectionism

The person may believe they are keeping the bar high. But by holding an impossible standard of perfection, the outcome will inevitably be disappointing.


Quitting

The person may find an excuse to quit just before the goal is in sight, over and over again.


Self-sabotage

The person may set obstacles in their own way or stay in unhelpful situations.



Self-destructiveness

At its worst, the fear of success may involve self-destructive behavior. Left unchecked, that derails any real opportunity for success.


John Thurman also explained the fear of success in his blog titled “How to Restrain the Fear of Success” :


You might fear success if you:

  • You do not complete your projects at home or at work.

  • You talk about what you’re going to do more than what you actually do.

  • Your vision board has the exact same things on it that it did three years ago.

  • You don’t think your work is ever quite good enough.

Do you see how much the fear of success or just bluntly fear itself will stop us from doing anything especially what God called us to do?



Transparency: I too struggle with fear, especially with the fear of success. I realized when opportunities were coming to me, I sometimes declined them because I was afraid of being “great”. I was afraid that if I did take on that opportunity, or take that assignment, or take that position, or start that event, then eventually I wouldn’t be able to fulfill it and fail besides hearing the unending opinions from others. Sometimes I don’t feel like I deserve it. But, even if I do succeed, I may have to make major changes that will cost me such as close friendships, relocations, finances, etc. It sometimes makes you wonder was the success or the achievement was worth the sacrifice of what you have treasured.


Side Note: Ask yourself, what are you afraid to lose or give up on? Matthew 6:21 says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” What you treasure the most, is what God really wants from you.

I can personally see the fear of success and the fear of failure share a lot of similarities. Many of us love to quote this scripture “..to whom much is given, much is required.”(Luke 12:48) My question is, what is exactly required from me? Am I ready to completely give up what I love or treasure, or make major changes in my life because that is required of me? Can I pay the price? Do I have what it takes? But then my mind will talk and say "This position is “too big” for me, I shouldn’t take it. I would talk myself out of it." But I’m learning that I seriously lack trust in God in this area. I’m learned that I didn’t trust Him enough to sustain me, to equip me, to grace me for whatever He assigned for me to do or to become. I've been disappointed by Him. It was honestly hard for me to say it to Him, but my actions were showing it loud and clear. But during my recent consecration, I finally became honest with God and told Him how I'm struggling to trust Him again especially since my father died. I felt like my trust in God was broken. So I'm currently on a journey where I getting to know God on a deeper level, especially with the death of a loved one and restoring my trust in Him.


Whew, back to the fear of success.


I had to push past the fear of success especially the “what ifs” and daily declare and have faith in what the Lord has spoken to me and over my life. I really stress daily because the distractions and discouragements, etc will always be present. Oppositions will come. But like Jesus said “Fear not”, God is for us, He will help us, He will protect us, He will defend us, and He will forever love us. Let us magnify how great our God is towards our problems or our fears instead of magnifying how great our fears are. Is God not greater than fear, self-doubt, and anxiety? There will be days when you will feel invincible and ready to conquer the world, and then there will be days when you will feel beaten up and want to hide from the world. Despite what we may feel at the time, the Lord STILL called you, He still chose you, and He still hasn’t given up on you. It will take time, focus, prayer, forgiveness, discipline, maturity, learning, unlearning, and failures believe it or not cause how are we going to learn if we always win and never make a mistake? It’s more beneficial to learn and grow from your mistakes than to suppress them and neglect them.



I recently was blessed by this devotion that sparked me to write this blog today. The fear of being successful or great often leads us to “shrink” or discredit ourselves. We would hide ourselves or do less than average to make sure we won’t stand out. You will find this bible devotion on YouVersion and it’s titled “21 Days to Life-Changing Confidence” by Amanda Pittman. I pray that it will help you guys as well.


When we don’t value the way God designed us, we underprice our value, undermine our voice, and undercut our calling. Many people feel that it’s easier to fit in when they hide what God fashioned to shine.


But here’s the truth: God fashioned you to stand out. Your personality, your passions, your mannerisms, your story, your voice … all of it will shine. You’ve been chosen and uniquely molded for God’s special use. No one else can accomplish what God ordained to fulfill through you. No matter how hard you try, you can’t hide it.


You are the light of the world. You can’t be hidden. Once you see yourself accurately—emancipated, authenticated, and illuminated—you’ll recognize your moral obligation to shine. You’ll see how selfish it is to be blood-bought, rectified, transformed, anointed, yet silent.


When you understand the magnitude of your heavenly transformation, you don’t want to keep that light from anyone else who needs it too. You will be fueled by a deep-seated conviction to influence everyone you reach with your God-given design.


Standing out is a state of being. It’s who you are, period. And that’s a good thing. You can’t influence the world when you look just like it.


"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden." MATTHEW 5:14 NIV


DECLARATION:

I am fashioned by God. He has not created me to fit in but to stand out instead. So I will not shrink or hide. I am confident that God will get the glory out of my life.


Ready to confront the fear of success and do the work of overcoming it? Here are some tips to help us:



ADMIT IT!

The hardest part when it comes to deliverance is to be honest with yourself and own up to your flaws or own up to your mistakes. Be honest with yourself. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Release the guilt, the shame, the false expectations from you and others, and release the disappointments, release the pain, and release the deceptions. You can fool the entire world, but you can’t fool God. He can’t help us if we continue pretending to be “ok” while we’re dreading on the inside. We can never be truly freed in the way God wants us to be and remain in bondage with fear. I had to be completely honest and raw to God about how I felt, thought, or just EVERYTHING. I'm so glad that God is always loving and graceful despite my imperfections and my attitude.



Know who you are, whose you belong to, and why you were created.

You are a child of the Most High God, created to be in relationship with and to glorify Him (Isaiah 43:7, Psalm 69:30, Psalm 86:12, Romans 15:6). By His own design, you are considered a success already. 1 Peter 2:9 says “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”


Reconsider your definition of success.

How do you define success? Does it align with the standards of the world or God? Does being married mean you’re successful? Does having a prosperous business/job defines you as successful? Having a lot of money means you’re successful? Does having great influence mean you’re successful? God measures success differently than the world does. Jesus said, “It is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest” (Luke 9:48; cf. Mark 9:35). Wealth, skill, and influence are irrelevant to true, eternal success. Biblical success that pleases and glorifies God is being known by Him and knowing and serving Him through faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel.


Do it scared!

This phrase is such an oxymoron but it’s absolutely true and right on. The assignments that God called me to do scare me! It still does sometimes. But I have to snap out of it and declare the Word of the Lord over my life and walk by faith and not by fear. Trust and believe God even when it does not make any sense. Be obedient and do what God tells you to do. Your obedience or your “yes” to God can literally save people's lives. I had the honor and privilege to witness the good outcomes of my obedience despite the sacrifices that I made in the midst of it. I saw a post on social media that says “Instead of meditating on how it’s not going to work, think about what if does work?” It helped me change my mindset of how I look at situations.


What are other tips that help you to overcome your fear of success? Comment below!



Sources:


Moe. (2021, December 6). Fear of Success: Why We’re Sometimes Afraid of Being Our Best. BetterUp. Retrieved November 2, 2023, from https://www.betterup.com/blog/fear-of-success


Thurman, J. (2021) How to restrain the fear of success, John Thurman. Available at: https://johnthurman.net/how-to-restrain-the-fear-of-success/ (Accessed: 02 November 2023).


D., & D. (2021, June 18). 6 Tips for Coping with the Fear of Success | Dr. Michelle Bengtson. Dr. Michelle Bengtson. Retrieved November 2, 2023, from https://drmichellebengtson.com/6-tips-for-coping-with-the-fear-of-success/


Pittman & DaySpring. (n.d.). 21 Days to Life-Changing Confidence. YouVersion | the Bible App | Bible.com. Retrieved November 2, 2023, from https://my.bible.com/reading-plans/37205-21-days-to-life-changing-confidence


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