Serving God and Others Despite Fear
Many years ago, I volunteered with Campus Crusade for Christ on Penn State’s main campus. When weekly evangelistic outreaches were held, I battled emotional hurricanes.
The winds of fear swirled and whistled within me as I contemplated the hostile responses I might receive. The easy thing would have been to avoid these outreaches. I’m glad I didn’t. They were my first lessons in overcoming fear to minister to others.
I am not naturally outgoing. In my high school yearbook, my twin brother was described as quiet, and I was very quiet. Especially at that time, I found small talk with others difficult. God has a sense of humor. He decided to use a very quiet person to serve others through public speaking, otherwise known as preaching.
After my Penn State experience, my wife and I served on the Campus Crusade for Christ staff for two years. I still found regularly sharing the gospel with students to be very stressful.
I learned much about sharing my faith during those two years. But college campus ministry wasn’t the best fit for my personality and spiritual gifts. As much as anything, it trained me to do ministry while afraid. It was one of many ways God prepared me for His calling to a writing ministry that reached full fruition after I retired from pastoral ministry.
After forty years of ministry, you would think I would be over the anxiety I experienced when I traveled the early paths of Christian service. Not entirely.
My fears are greatly diminished but still present. I still pray for the Holy Spirit to empower me and make me a blessing to others despite my fear.
Then I walk toward the doorway of the ministry opportunity and trust in God’s adequacy to make me equal to it (2 Corinthians 12:9). Have I taken advantage of every ministry chance? No. Fear has caused me to miss many opportunities to bless others.
Even the best of us experience fear in ministry. The Apostle Paul wrote, “I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling” (1 Corinthians 2:3 NIV). “For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within” (2 Corinthians 7:5 NIV).
Fear probably interferes with your ministry. The flesh is weak. Our sinful natures rebel against taking risks that might result in embarrassment. They rebel against living by faith.
Meanwhile, God’s Spirit moves us to take the risks love requires. “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions” (Galatians 5:17 NLT).
Reading the following passage in Ezra for my personal devotions spurred these “despite their fear” thoughts: “Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices” (Ezra 3:3 NIV). After returning from captivity in Babylon, the Israelites took risky steps to restore their worship practices.
They did it afraid. We must do the same. I am learning that those who fear the LORD don’t have to fear anything else. I haven’t arrived, but I’m making progress. Every time we do ministry afraid, the next opportunity to serve God and others despite fear is slightly less intimidating. #freechristiandiscipleshipresources #freeevangelismresources #freechristianleadershipresources
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God has equipped and empowered me to write His Power for Your Weakness—260 Steps Toward Spiritual Strength. It’s a free devotional discipleship resource. Pastors have used it in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia to lead people to Christ and teach the basics of Christianity to 1,933 people to date. I invite you to check it out. https://www.christiangrowthresources.com/his-power-for-your-weakness