How easily are you influenced by others? Have you ever struggled with “peer pressure”? Do you conform to the desires of those around you, even when you know it’s not the best decision? Do you often find your thoughts and actions linked to a desire for people’s approval and fear their rejection? You might be battling the fear of man.
The fear of man might be better described by terms like peer pressure or co-dependency.
Here are some examples:
You struggle to say no
You are needy
You feel like you might be exposed as an imposter,
You procrastinate and frequently second-guess your decisions
You bend the truth
You are preoccupied with perceptions
You avoid confrontation
You are sensitive and defensive when it comes to feedback and criticism
You pretend that everything is ok when it really isn't (especially in the church community)
You have false humility
You show favoritism
You seek out validation
The fear of man can show up in many areas in our lives.
If left undealt with, it will steal your peace, limit your power (influence) and distract you from you purpose.
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I. The Fleshly Nature (temptation and rationalization) - We all want to be liked, receive the adoration of others, their compliments, their affection, praise, and we enjoy being celebrated by others, perhaps even being worshiped by them. This leads to pride, arrogance and insecurity.
II. The Domain of Darkness (Deception and destruction)- The enemy uses the fear of man to keep you distracted from your true purpose…He loves it when he can distract us, deceive us with the things of this world, including the opinion of man – to keep us from moving forward with our God-given purpose.
III. The World System (desensitization and relaxation) – Our culture thrives on comparison and competition – you have to look like this, perform like this, earn like this, be in a relationship like this... An elevated, unhealthy value is placed on what other people may say to, think of or do toward us.
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‘Fear’ in the biblical sense is a much broader word. It includes being afraid of someone, but it extends to holding someone in awe, being controlled or mastered by people, worshipping other people, putting your trust in people, or needing people.… The fear of man can be summarized this way: We replace God with people. Instead of a biblically guided fear of the Lord, we fear others.”
“We fall into fear of man when we desire the approval of others so much that we need them, (for ourselves), more than we love them, (for the glory of God.).” Edward Welch,
In 1 Sam 15 we read the tragic story of Saul being rejected (by God) as Israel's king. The root of all of this is Saul's fear of man. It steals his peace, limits his power (influence) and distracts and eventually robs him of purpose.
The Fear of Man steals our Peace
The Fear of Man steals our Power
The Fear of Man steals our Purpose
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Prov 9:10
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Pay Close Attention
What are the things that are stealing your peace? Emotional triggers serve as an early warning system that something is not right. What was the event or thought that caused your peace to be disturbed? Keeping a notebook on hand to note down these things as they occur is a very helpful way to identify what is really going on.
Decide what you will and won’t allow yourself to think about be influenced by. Remind yourself of who you are, a son of King, a co-heir with Christ! Pray that God would establish identity, and purpose in your heart and mind and then be quick to protect that.
Pursue His Presence:
You are invited to enter boldly into the presence of God. In His presence are peace and joy. Practically, setting aside time each day (or several times a day) to pause, be quiet, and allow the Holy Spirit to help you discern healthy thoughts, truth and then strengthen and convict you to live those out.
Trust in God’s love for You
Fear of man leads to working for the approval of people. Hence, actions are tied to our identity. However, the message of the Gospel is just the opposite. God loves you before you do anything. He accepts and approves of you because of Jesus finished work on the cross. It has nothing to do with your good (or bad) actions.
Submit to the Lordship of Christ
Fear of man causes us to place people and their opinions above the lordship of Christ. In essence, that is idolatry (placing something above God). Christ is Lord above all. Where you recognize that the opinions of self and others have been elevated above God's, repent, ask His forgiveness, receive His mercy, and allow His grace to transform you. Be ready and willing to allow Jesus into every area of your life.
Scriptures to meditate on
Recommended Reading / Audiobook
The Father Heart of God - Floyd McClung
God's desire is that you would find your peace, power and purpose in Him, and not in the opinions (and actions) of people. The enemy would love nothing more than to steal your peace, limit your power, and distract you from your purpose. These things need to be protected. A protected, purpose-driven, peaceful, God powered and anointed existence begins with the fear of God.
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