How to Defeat Fear and Grab Hold of Your God-Given Potential
- Cliff Young Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2014 4 Dec
Have you ever wondered if this is the best it gets?
Do you believe you’ve accomplished everything you’ll ever be able to?
Have you achieved your destiny?
I have actually contemplated answering “yes” to these questions….at one time.
“Despair” is often described as believing every day will be the same no matter what you do.
Many people in the world, even in this country, live as though they have already reached the high point of their lives and, sad to say, some probably have because of their own beliefs. Fortunately, most people strive to be something more and believe they are capable of obtaining more.
Oftentimes, we set our sights on someone who has done something noteworthy, incredible in the public’s eye or seemingly out of the ordinary. We try to replicate their actions and encourage others to do the same.
Many years ago, an advertising campaign inspired everyone to “Be like Mike.”
At the time, Michael Jordan was arguably the best basketball player in the world and his name and image were being used all over the media to promote clothing, food and other products. Everyone wanted to be associated with him, eat or wear something of his, and be like Mike.
In the early 1800’s, Charles Caleb Cotton, an English cleric and writer, characterized this sort of action with one of his most famous quotes, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
Ever since I can remember, I have been encouraged to imitate someone, whether it was an instructor, an outstanding classmate, my older brother, an athlete, a relative or a parent. I would often hear, “You should be more like….” There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. However, by emulating anyone other than Jesus, we set our expectations of that person way too high.
Following an imperfect person who is probably in turn following another imperfect person (as we all seek to discover ourselves) never seems to end well. We continually see the downfall of athletes, celebrities, public officials and even fellow Christians who disappoint us by their actions.
And just as we place too high of an expectation on others, we sometimes tend to do the opposite for ourselves setting our possibilities too low by not thinking we can be more than we are, or not recognizing our own potential.
God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect (Hebrews 11:40).
Maybe in some unintentional, subconscious way we (would rather) strive to be like someone else because it seems more enticing, lucrative, cooler, or just easier in the sense that it’s a clearer direction than having to discover our own personal calling.
However, those who make a difference in other people’s lives and change the world are usually not the ones who strive to be like someone else but rather be the best they can be, utilizing the specific gifts they have been blessed with, and according to God’s plan.
He intentionally made us in his own image to be unique and for an explicit purpose, so why are we trying to copy or imitate someone else?
What God intended for you goes far beyond anything you can imagine.
That’s what Oprah Winfrey said in describing the journey her life has taken from growing up a poor black child in Mississippi to becoming one of the wealthiest and most influential people of our time.
The biggest deterrent to becoming a better YOU is fear: fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of going it alone, fear of the trials that will come, or fear of losing something (the comfort) you’ve grown accustomed to.
There will be many obstacles and fluctuations on the road to being the best you.
You can’t be afraid to fail.
Failure is not all negative and personal. Sometimes my “failure” has shown me I wasn’t right in that position, I needed to grow up (or mature) in some way, or it was just time to leave (because I have overstayed my welcome, or done all I was meant to).
If you look at your disappointments, frustrations, obstructions, or failures as learning opportunities rather than a time to seek revenge, blame others or complain, you may be able to perceive a positive outcome or, or find an important message to yourself.
You can’t worry about what others say or do.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned of late is, I have no control of or power over what someone else does or says in general or about me. People will do what they do and will say what they say. Even your friends may appear discouraging at times because they are fearful of losing you, envious of the direction you’re going, or scared of their own path, so seeking the opinion of others rather than relying on that small still voice inside of you can lead you astray.
You have to walk your own path.
Each of us is called for a specific purpose and is on our own journey. Sometimes our paths will coincide with others for decades and others just a short time. In order to grow to where you need to be, you have to follow your narrow road and leave everyone else for their own path.
But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it (Matthew 7:14).
Fear is often the culprit behind why few of us find it.
To be that person you were created to be, imagine yourself (and plan on) achieving that God-given dream, and don’t settle in thought or action until you get there.
Michael Jordan once said, “You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.” Many people go through life expecting others to give them what they “deserve” or making excuses why they aren’t where they “should be.”
Someone once said, “If you don’t like the reflection, don’t break the mirror,” and if you don’t like where you are, who you’ve become, or where you’re going, change it.
We all have room for personal growth. Settling for less is giving up on yourself and who God created you to be.
Remember, the best imitation of someone else will never be better than the worst original of you.
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the bi-weekly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on facebook and twitter.
Publication date: December 4, 2014