The Crippling Fear of Success

Did you know that being afraid to succeed is a real thing? In regards to my calling in this life, I’ve been disappointed so many times that failure feels more comfortable than it does to succeed. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t experienced great success, but what I’m saying is that one area in my life where I’m currently growing in is overcoming disappointment from my past and not letting those bad experiences prophesy my future.

The fear of success is often related to people who have suffered a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People who have a fear of success often attribute the excitement of success with the fear and pain caused by disappointment. Basically, people who have failed more times than they’ve succeeded (which is pretty much all of us) can become comfortably miserable by creating small dreams for themselves that keep them away from any possibility of experiencing the pain of failure.

I believe the fear of success derives from the fear of failure. For those of us who are struggling with a fear of success, the first step is for us to lose our fear of failing since failing is part of succeeding.

What Does Fear of Success Look Like?

In 2014, I quit a job I worked at for eight years. The reason I worked there for so many years was that I didn’t know what the purpose of my life was, and I also didn’t have any direction. Over those eight years, I applied for hundreds of jobs, but I never heard back from any of them. Then in 2014 when I went on my first mission trip to Africa, I discovered the purpose of my life.

At that point, I knew the purpose of my life was the share the Gospel and the love of Jesus with orphans, widows, and the poor in general. More specifically, I really have a passion to work with refugees. But how could my life’s purpose actually become a career? Would I have to work at a job I hate for the rest of my life so that I can barely have time and energy at the end of each day to share God’s love with refugees?

My life’s purpose of sharing God’s love full time with refugees isn’t exactly the type of career path that runs in my family (If you would even call it a career), and that made it even harder for me to believe the call of God on my life.

My greatest fear has always been that I will live for the rest of my life working at a job that I hate, because it pays good money, and completely miss the very reason for my existence. My idea of success is to impact so many people with the love of Jesus in my lifetime that their lives become radically transformed forever.

I do not come from a family of missionaries. I do not come from a family that has ever done the type of work that I’m doing right now with refugees and the poor. it’s easy to overcome the fear of success when your calling lines up with your family history, but when you’re pioneering something new that God is doing in and through you, that’s when God gives you the power to do what you’ve been created to do.

I once heard a wise saying that goes, “When the fear of remaining the same becomes greater than the fear that’s required to change, that’s when you’ll change.” Above all, the perfect love of God is greater than any fear. When we become filled with the love of God in a radical way, that’s when we’ll be able to change the world with the power of His love. The true definition of success has nothing to do with money, power, or status, but it has to do with loving people like Jesus.

 

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