The fear of man is when we care too much about what people think of us. And, it’s a fear that is very two sided! On one side it’s a “jumbo craving” for people’s approval, and on the other side it’s a “jumbo fear” of people’s rejection.
Basically, the fear of man puts people and their opinions in the place of God in our lives and can become a form of idolatry.
The fear of man is a crafty trap and it’s hidden from plain sight so that it can catch us by surprise. We would be making a BIG mistake if we thought the “fear of man snare,” is only laid on the path of the timid, shy, and fearful kind of person.
If you are the kind of person that looks folks boldly in the eyes and shakes their hand with confidence, who takes charge when you walk into a room, who is always at the center of attention and the life of the party, the fear of man can hide out on your path as well.
Often, it will hide under the denial that you are actually trying to impress people. The craving to be admired, to be looked up to, to be applauded.
The fear of man isn’t a fear, as much as it is a life focused over about how you appear around people – a life that is motivated by pride and how we appear in the eyes of men, so it can manifest itself in a drive to impress people. And the goal is the TRAP!
We then define our lives through the eyes of other people. We need to be the center of attention, we need to be well liked, we need to be promoted, we need to be considered successful, because we think our lives and identities are determined by “what people think”, rather than what God thinks of us.
Life becomes a big performance and every day is opening night. We read the reviews (opinions of others) to determine how we’re doing.
Many people excel at what they do because they are driven by a fear of failure, or a fear of not impressing people. Their identity is wrapped up in what people think of them and it’s a terrible cage. Sometimes the loud, gregarious kind of person, the one who always seems to be confident and in charge – can actually be masking a terribly insecure heart with all that loud talking!
Another general form of the fear of man is when we are always driven to please people. We hate to let people down. We hate to say “no” to people. We hate to have them not like us.
Much like a spikey sticker from a weed that attaches to your socks or pants to hitch a ride, we can be human “hitch hikers” always sucking up to people, and always trying to gain their approval. We want to leave a trail of people who are happy with us and we can’t bear to think of people being unhappy with us.
We become “nice” instead of “good” because “nice” doesn’t stir up “unpleasantness”! We become like chameleons who change with our surroundings. We adjust our “shade and tone” with what we say to who we’re with, and if not being honest, we play up what we know they will agree with and like, and “hush up” things we believe that we know they won’t agree with.
Pleasing people becomes more important than being truthful with them and faithful to God. Paul wrote to the Galatians of this “fear of man trap” when he wrote, “Am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ,” Galatians 1:10.
Paul’s not saying we shouldn’t ever try to please people, or that it’s always wrong to want people to like us. He’s talking about what drives us, what motivates us, what controls us. I f our goal is to please people rather than please God, our service for Christ will be seriously diminished and clouded by worries, and we will be snared and trapped by our fear of people and lose the joy of fully being free to be loved by the ONE who wants us to trust His plans fully.
~ Mary Lindow ©
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|Mary Lindow has a passion for encouraging others in all generations and careers or vocations to live and express excellence through personal integrity, healthy accountability, and wise management of talents and skills. She is a sought after keynote inspirational and humorous speaker and teacher throughout the United States internationally in Ministers conferences, International Spiritual leaders Conferences, and in National and International training seminars for various organizations.|