The fear of man (F.O.M.) 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, that takes charge when you walk into a room, that 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. And if we don’t like the reviews whether they shout truth or not about us, we can react extremely poorly!
Many people excel at what they do because they are driven by a fear of failure, or a fear of not impressing people or from a fear of not looking busy and “philanthropic” so that others see their “most amazing” and latest endeavor. 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. Boy oh boy! This one has been tough for me at times!
Then there is the fear of being left out of things!
Trying to gain others approval. You so absolutely want to leave a trail of people who are happy with your fawning and “fan” behavior and just can’t bear to think of people being unhappy with you, so you put up with snarky put downs, teasing and condescension.
You become “nice” instead of “good” because “nice” doesn’t stir up “unpleasantness”!
You become like chameleons who change with their surroundings.
You adjust your “shade and tone” with what you say to who you’re with, and if not being honest, you will play up what you know they will agree with and like, and “hush up” and then stew about the things you believe that you (think) you know they won’t agree with.
Pleasing people becomes more important for fearful individuals rather than being truthful 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. No! But he is making a very clear point! He’s talking about what drives us, what motivates us, what controls us.
If 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 we will lose the joy of fully being free to be loved by the ONE who wants us to trust His plans fully for our lives.
Beloved! Our Lord Jesus clearly tells us whom to fear and whom not to fear. He says, “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4,5).
Yes, God clearly states we should never fear satan or man but fear Him!
As is reverencing His will, not wanting to fear that He won’t protect us, we might experience the “FOMO” (fear of missing out) on things!
The Lord says, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
Loving Heavenly Father,
I thank You for Your word. Help me not to fear man or satan.
Help me to over come fear filled thoughts with Your word and prayer.
Father, help me to TRUST YOU at all times in life and let it bring blessings and honor, peace, secure relationships and personal integrity. In Jesus’ Name I pray.
In His Shadow,
~ Mary Lindow ©
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Mary Lindow has a passion for encouraging others – all generations, careers or vocations to live expressing excellence through personal integrity, healthy accountability, and wise management of talents and skills. She’s a sought after keynote, inspirational, humorous speaker and teacher across the U.S.A and internationally in Ministers & Spiritual leaders Conferences, and training seminars for various organizations.