I love the quote “courage is not the absence of fear, rather, it’s taking action in spite of it.”
Great quote, but it comes up short.
Don’t get me wrong. This saying is true and has helped me share my faith when otherwise I may not have.
But the weakness of this quote is that it assumes that fear is going to be there regardless.
What if there was a way that to literally remove the fear itself? What if there was a way that we could literally become “fearless” in the sharing of our faith.
There’s a path to that — as close as one can actually get to it, anyway, that I will show you.
Controlling The Internal Conversation
Let me clarify my “removal of fear” idea a bit…
What if there was a way that we could take control of the internal conversation that is going on in a moment we are feeling fear, and thereby cause the emotion of fear to be replaced?
My goal is to help you with what’s helped me.
Because it works. And the gospel is certainly worth it.
Push Back… Inside
Now, if you think my reference to “controlling the internal conversation” is psycho-babble, you’re wrong. The Scriptures have much to say about “internal conversations” and whether they are right or wrong in their posture at the time, such as when Jesus read the thoughts of the Pharisees and addressed these outright.
I won’t give you a list of Scriptures here, but I will point to David, who, in a time of discouragement, took control of his internal conversation by speaking to himself. He quelled that internal discouraging flesh-voice that we are all so familiar with by addressing it: “Why so downcast, O my soul? Put your hope in God.” (Psalm 43:5)
The “soul” is the combination of the mind, will and emotions. This is where both fear and decision start. This part of ourselves MUST be addressed in overcoming fear in evangelism.
So I’m going to take you through the short internal “5 Question” thought process that I use (in lots of areas of life actually) to diminish the “fear factor.” And I hope you will share it with the people in your church to help them begin to eradicate fear around witnessing.
This has helped me many times in daunting situations where I knew the Lord was prompting me to share my faith with the lost, but I was afraid to do so.
Questioning Fear Thoughts & Leveraging Imagination
This simple exercise works because it causes the believer to examine the thought that is stopping them from sharing their faith and forces them to objectify it, leveraging their God-given imagination to take themselves out of the fear and move forward without it.
In the moment of a faith sharing opportunity, when those fearful thoughts come in, four simple questions need to be asked.
1) What is the imagined scenario that’s making me afraid?
Fear is sparked by thoughts and usually these thoughts are made up of imagined worst-case outcomes around the idea of sharing our faith. So we must stop and look at them dead on as step one.
A number of thoughts might surface. Thoughts like…
- “They will reject me or make fun of me.”
- “I won’t do it right.”
- “They will argue with me and I don’t know enough to defend my side.”
- “They will ask questions I may not be able to answer.”
- “I will stumble on my words and embarrass myself… and God.”
Various worst-case and general icky-nasty-uncomfortable kinds of scenarios like these will surface. All of them occurring in the imagination while reversing the direction of the will by creating the emotion of fear. That’s what fear does.
So clarify these thoughts, then move to the next question.
2) Am I 100% SURE that what I am afraid will happen will ACTUALLY happen?
Most of the time, if we are being honest, the answer is “no.” We think worst-case almost immediately, but most of the time never consider the probability of such a thing happening. This question helps us realize that there is another possible outcome that exists. Not all the cards are stacked only one way.
Regardless of the answer, though, we move to question 3.
3) How do I react, what happens when I believe these fear thoughts?
The answer may seem obvious, but in really thinking about it, really examining it, we feel a sense of control and empowerment just objectifying the thought.
But the power of this question exists in the fact that I am thinking, not just feeling, and I am able to understand how quickly my flesh gains control. Moreover, I also am realizing how quickly the Spirit loses control to the flesh.
We begin to see, with this question, how we are allowing ourselves to be victimized by a flesh-driven imagination in the moment that has no basis in fact and that it’s ruling our choice mechanism outright.
A Christian working through question #3 may discover any of the following answers.
- I turn and leave.
- I change the subject or never bring it up.
- I divert to less intimidating alternatives to presenting the gospel, such as inviting to church and walking away.
Most of humanity, including Christians, stop and choose not to act when they feel those things. They just never examine this at all.
4) Who would I be without this fear?
This question stokes our God-given imagination and forces us to imagine ourselves functioning without the paralyzing fear. We start to imagine successful witnessing scenarios – or, if we’re in one in that very moment,we start to see a very real possibility of it turning out differently.
But here’s the kicker: we imagine ourselves moving ahead without fear. Period.
We imagine ourselves not caring about rejection, argument, dismissal, losing the friend, or whatever. We see ourselves as bold. We start to feel THAT emotion instead. We start to hook up at multiple levels to the whole “more than a conqueror” identity assignment God gave us.
Now the will is starting to get freed up.
5) Would God invest in “who I would be” without this fear (as answered above)?
The answer is always “yes.”
God would resource a person who didn’t have thoughts of fear and who moved forward by faith!
We’ve been taught this our entire life but we don’t access it because we never do the internal work to get to this point. That’s why I’m writing this article.
Now at this point, the Christian will sense their faith empowered as an oak while fear sits like a withered houseplant in the corner of the mind. He can move ahead confidently in sharing Jesus, knowing that Heaven is his resource, and he fulfilling our God-given mandate… just as he’s finally imagined it.
Merely stopping long enough to walk through this sequence (it can be done very quickly) can give the Spirit opportunity to speak louder than our flesh, killing the fear that paralyzes.
By forcing ourselves to cease the near-instant reaction to whatever fear-thought our flesh or the Devil serves up can turn the tide in our witness. And often what’s revealed is the Witness Warrior God has equipped us to be.
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