9 min
By: Ria Mae Corda

Journey Together: How do I help someone who is afraid to fail?

When we journey with others in the faith, we help each other with the different struggles and challenges we experience because of sin and the brokenness of our world. In this series, Journey Together, we will talk about how we can help those who are going through specific battles of faith. Today, we will talk about journeying with someone who is afraid to fail.

“I don’t think I can do it. I’ll just give up while I haven’t messed up yet.”

“What will my parents say if I don’t make it?”

“Other contenders seem to be so much better. I shouldn’t even try to compete.”

“My friends will tell me ‘I told you so.’ I don’t want to deal with that.”

We’ve probably had these conversations at least once in our lives with someone who is trying to do something new or something big. This is not surprising. We like the comfort of the familiar. We want to make sure something is tried and tested. We need the certainty of a good outcome. 

These needs and desires are valid. As human beings, we long for security and validation. However, we can never have a complete guarantee of success or good outcome in any venture. There will always be a possibility of failure—of things going completely the opposite of what we hope for or expect. But does this mean we should stop making a change or aiming for something bigger? 

God calls us to a life of adventure with Him—a life where we can take risks and leaps of faith because of our confidence in His faithfulness, power, and love. But what is keeping us from taking bolder chances or pursuing greater things that God calls us to? Is it really just the possibility of an unexpected outcome? Or is there something bigger at stake? 

A well-known Christian neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf, asked this question, “Are you really scared of failure, or are you actually scared of looking foolish and feeling humiliated? Both are valid, but knowing the WHY can better help manage the fear.” Asking the right questions is crucial in helping someone who is afraid to fail.

Here are three prevalent fears that keep us from making a change or believing God for something big.

  • Fear of the unknown. You know that someone is battling the fear of the unknown when they feel like making a mistake or experiencing failure will define their future irreparably. 
  • Fear of rejection. You know that someone is fighting the fear of rejection when they are afraid that people they care for or whose opinion matters to them will no longer accept them or validate them when they fail.
  • Fear of humiliation. You know that someone is afraid of humiliation when they think about how their reputation will suffer when they don’t make the cut.

Knowing the root helps us battle it with God’s love and truth. God’s word assures us that perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18) and that we were not given the spirit of fear, but of love, of power, and of sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). 

Here are three steps we can take to cast out fear and receive the spirit of love, power, and sound mind that God is graciously offering us.

  1. Allow your mind to be renewed by God’s word. The things we believe about God and ourselves greatly affect our choices, responses, and actions. This is why the first step to overcoming the fear of failure is to battle the root of our fears with the truth about God’s power and love in our minds

    If you are paralyzed by the fear of uncertainty, what does God’s word say about God’s will for you? What does God’s word say about His sovereignty over our lives and our future? What does God’s word say about His character and power in any circumstance?

    If you are shaken by the fear of rejection, what does God’s word say about His acceptance and love for you? Is His love dependent on your performance? Will He change His mind about choosing you at any point in time?

    If you are afraid of being humiliated, what does God’s word say about where we should anchor our confidence and security? Should the opinion of others be the source of our validation? Should our reputation be the anchor of our hope?

    As we recognize what we truly believe about God and about ourselves, we can repent for believing any lie, turn back to God, and allow Him to remind us of His character, His love, and our identity in Him.
  1. Speak up. Most of the time, it is hard to process our fears and emotions by ourselves. This is why church community is such a blessing to us who follow Jesus Christ. Not only do we find help in battling our fears, we also have the privilege of helping others with their own fears as well. 

    Name two or three people in the church who can process your fears with you and help you move towards healing. Who are the people who believe and pray with you? Who is God calling you to help deal with their own fears? Who can you encourage and pray for? 

    Galatians 6:2 commands us to bear one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ, which is to love God with everything we have, and to love others as we love ourselves. Speaking up allows others in the church community to fulfill God’s call for them to love us, just as bearing the burden of others in the church community is a manifestation of our love for them.
  1. Take the first, small step. Making a change or believing God for big things does not have to be done with one, big step. When the Israelites crossed the Red Sea on dry land to escape their slavery in Egypt, it started with Moses raising his staff over the waters (Exodus 14:16). When they crossed the Jordan River later on to conquer the rest of the Promised Land, it started with some of them taking a few steps into the river (Joshua 3:13).

    God will be the one to bring things into completion as we take small steps in obedience to Him. What is one small step that God is leading you to take towards making that change or seeing that big or impossible thing come to pass? 

God has so much in store for our lives. He has called us to a blessed life that overflows to be a blessing to the community and the people He has placed in our lives.

Our prayer and our hope for you and the people you lead is that you won’t let your fears paralyze you, so that you don’t miss out on God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will.

About the author
Ria Mae Corda

Ria is a campus missionary with Every Nation Campus Fort Bonifacio. When she got the call to serve in full-time ministry, she said she would only disciple college students. Nearly two decades after receiving that call, Ria still marvels at how big of a space there is in her heart now to journey with high school students—space that’s also filled up with her love for a good book, gardening, and all kinds of historical shows.

Find the right resource for you