So what are you afraid of?
Financial issues, health concerns, family matters, ending opening sentences with prepositions…
The only people who really have anything to worry about as it relates to their fears are the ones who say they aren’t afraid of anything. Take it from me, I’m an expert in fear as one who is afraid of a multitude of things (not a positive, of course, just a statement of fact)… everyone is afraid of something.
The problem is our fears tend to camouflage themselves. We see the obvious ones:
· “I’m afraid of dogs” – Well, you were probably bitten as a child
· “I’m afraid of getting pulled over by the police” – Well, slow down genius
· “I’m afraid of tornados” – Well, you’re not an idiot
· “I’m afraid of those creepy sounds downstairs in my house at night” – Well… Well, actually, I agree. Do you mind going down to check? Thanks.
The obvious fears we get. They are easy to spot, label and either accept or deny. The problem is many leaders are leaders because they have learned to wrestle these obvious fears to the ground and knock’em out with the classic sleeper hold!
They rise from the mat victoriously standing over their fears as they smugly announce, “Can’t touch this.”
Problem is you didn’t realize this was a tag team match. The obvious fears that were so easy to takeout are backed up by a stealthy, super buff powerhouse of a partner called unrealized fears.
And, just like any professional wrestler… they cheat.
They have already crawled up on the top rope and have launched into a swinging, superfly, death drop rolling atomic leg drop guaranteed cage match stopper (dude… maybe I should cut out the testosterone TV for a while).
So what are these unrealized fears? Since it’s so easy to spot regular fears, it may take some time to recalibrate yourself to identify these unrealized fears in you, but here are some classic examples:
Some are afraid to succeed – afraid of the consequences of what might actually happen if we get where we’re going. If we actually succeeded they might put us in charge and we’d have to lead, be responsible and be held accountable We move in the direction of success, but often hesitate, slow our pace, alter course or even stop short for fear of actually succeeding.. Oh, we’d never say those words out loud, but that’s what it is…
Some are afraid shine – afraid to stand out because the value of team and companionship has been ingrained to us. We may have been burnt by others and their pride/ego, and inwardly we are scarred and worried that we could become that same monster, so, we don’t even give ourselves enough leash to get into that spotlight….
Some are afraid to finish – afraid to find out what might come next. We have become so comfortable with the status quo we have decided to perpetually exist where we are even if it means we never get anywhere else. Like terminal students, always pursuing a degree and never entering a career…
Some are afraid to be ‘in the box’ – afraid to do what works, we feel the need to be novel, unique, original and constantly reinvent the wheel. As if God and the world are waiting for us to come up with something the world has never seen before, we refuse to do what obviously works for fear that someone might think it’s not a completely original thought….
The list is endless. Unrealized fears come in all shapes and sizes and have clotheslined many a leader bringing them to the mat for a stunned 3 count.
So, once again, I ask a question ending in a preposition: what are you afraid of?
Sure there are obvious things, but what are the unrealized fears that lurk in the shadows that you didn’t even know were fears until you took this moment to look them square in the face?
I just spent the last week with my family on vacation at the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City, Ks.
For those of you who don’t know, this is a little kid paradise. It’s a wolf den themed hotel with a huge indoor water park. It has four stories of a water playland, several pools and 5 uber cool slides.
On day one I had to spend about 15 minutes convincing my oldest that the slides were not death traps and that if he did not try them he would regret it, the rest of his week would not be as fun as it should be, his younger brother would make him look like a wussy, the other kids would secretly laugh at him, he’d probably never marry a cool girl, the college of his choice would never accept him and the Second Coming of Jesus may be delayed.
After this gentle nudging… he tried a slide… loved it and we could not stop him. He owned that water park after that.
I could not have been more proud.
It was later while I was sitting in the hot tub with my wife watching the boys play when I was struck by something. One of the water features at this park is a huge bucket.
Huge is an understatement.
Every 5 minutes it dumps 1,000 gallons of water from 4 stories down onto the floor below. I watched it wash kids off their feet. I heard adults talk about how bad it hurt to be pelted by the water. I witnessed smiling children enter and saw crying children retreat. I saw dads drag toddlers kicking and screaming under the flow (parent’s of the year, let me tell you!).
As I sat there in the hot tub I remember shaking my head thinking… idiots. Until, I saw my kids playing there.
My boy who wouldn’t slide down the slide yesterday is now standing under a 1,000 gallon bucket and taking a water whipping… by choice. And, he’s coming out smiling.
He’s gone insane!
That’s when it hit me. I wasn’t afraid of the slides, but I was afraid of the big bucket.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to explain the psychological underpinnings of unrealized fears to my 10 year old and ask for a pep talk ‘back at ya’ since he owed me one, so, I just had to suck it up.
I pulled myself out of the hot tub, walked to the center of the floor and stood there on the cold concrete staring up at the bucket. I’d heard it a hundred times before, the alarm started to ring signifying the great dump was at hand and the bucket started to tip.
My heart began to race, I wanted to run, duck, at least close my eyes… not this time! Here it comes… 1,000 gallons of cold water from four stories up came crashing down.
BOOM! It hit like a brick, the water stung every inch of my body, and I was in just a little shock from the cold and the force of it all.
It was even more than I had expected, but it was awesome!
I yelled out, “YEEEEESSSS”
So did the four year old girl next to me.
Here’s what Scripture says,
17 “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. 18 I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Is 41:17-18). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
God is willing to pour out His blessings, His flow into and onto our lives, ministries and world. Far too often our unrealized fears keep us just out of frame, on the shoreline, within spitting distance of the blessable zone, but not under the flow.
We’re in the hot tub, when we should be under the bucket.
What does that mean? Seek out and find your unrealized fears, then face them head on like you do all the obvious points of fear in your life. Dealing with unrealized fears is usually handled best simply by realizing them.
We’re afraid of things we didn’t know we could be afraid of, and it’s time we stopped. It’s time we stepped out of the comfortable and into the path of blessing.
Let it pound us, sweep us off our feet, sting us, scare us to death. Stand there, take it.
Put yourself in the path, the flow of God’s doing and blessing. Don’t be afraid.
Back at the Great Wolf Lodge, I stayed under the bucket a few more times. I learned to love it. I learned to laugh. I stood there with my family.
I want to go back.