Ever since I can remember I have been a Philadelphia Eagles fan. If you follow the NFL at all, you already know that this has been a great year for me. There was something special about last year’s team in its unity and spirit than any other Eagles team I have ever seen. It is the reason why I think they were able to win the Super Bowl. Several months ago, a core group of players sat down with Pastor Paul Tripp to discuss their NFL careers, the Super Bowl, and their faith. Thousands attended live while it was also simulcast (which is still available for purchase if you want to see it) around the world.
At one point, the moderator Paul Tripp asked the question, “What makes you more afraid in life than a career-ending injury?” Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles talked about his biggest fear being that fear would win, that he would be overcome by fear. In his life, and in ours if we are honest, fear can be paralyzing. What are the most common fears that we deal with? If we expose them for what they are, perhaps we can reduce or even eliminate their power. Here are the 5 most common fears of men.
1. FailingFailure doesn’t define you; it’s just something we all experience on the way toward achieving goals.
Why are we so afraid of failing? Are we afraid of living with the shame that comes with it, disappointing others or perhaps ourselves? Are we afraid of what it might reveal about us, namely that we have limitations that we’ll never get beyond? Perhaps we’re afraid failure will come to define us. Regardless, failure is the last thing we should be afraid of. If you talk to any person who has achieved success, they will tell you about the list of failures that preceded it. If the sole reason you are not taking a risk or pursuing a goal is because you are afraid of failure then it’s time to dive in. Failure doesn’t define you; it’s just something we all experience on the way toward achieving goals.
2. Being Incompetent
We want to know that we have what it takes. We want to be useful, to feel needed. If we don’t have what it takes to accomplish a task, again, what does that say about us? That leads right into the next point. But before we look at that, know this, we all have certain talents. Find your talents and use them; pour into them in order to help others. Don’t be afraid to try, learn, and fail. Every risk earns you knowledge about yourself and takes you one step closer to knowing what you are made to do.
3. Being Weak (or Being Perceived as Weak)
For a man, being perceived as weak is probably as bad as actually being weak. And there is nothing worse, for a man, than being weak. Dr. Brene Brown says that the shame that comes from being perceived as weak keeps men from being vulnerable. The ability to be vulnerable is necessary for growth. Someone who is honest about their emotions and is willing to be vulnerable is the very definition of strength.
4. Being Irrelevant
We all want our lives to mean something when all is said and done. If you are struggling with this one I would suggest two things. First, find out what you do best and then use it to help others. People are in need of love and care and if you provide that to even one person, you will never be irrelevant.
5. Looking Foolish
The more you step out and risk, the more you are going to misfire. But you will also have more success.This is that thing that keeps us from speaking up in meetings or taking on a challenge. Ultimately, it minimizes our impact in the world. It’s okay to be wrong or fall short. You won’t lose credibility just because you are and have been wrong. You were given a voice and the world needs your perspective. It needs your initiative. The more you step out and risk, the more you are going to misfire. But you will also have more success.
When fear grips you, remember this quote from Teddy Roosevelt and get in the arena:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”