The Fear of Rejection or Ridicule
The fear of rejection is a powerful deterrent to sharing your faith. Thinking someone will ridicule you for standing up for your faith can paralyze evangelism efforts.
These fears take on two forms.
- It comes in the form of bullying or teasing.
- It is experienced by being ignored by another or ostracized by one or several people.
Everyone feels rejected at one time or another. Prolonged or constant rejection, in either form, is a serious problem when it happens in a close relationship. Feelings of rejection are commonly associated with loneliness, low self-esteem, acts of aggression (passive-aggressive behavior), and depression. The fear of rejection or ridicule can lead to insecurities that manifest themselves in overachieving or social sternness. In the Church, it often produces defensiveness displayed by legalistic behaviors and beliefs.
Two Coaching Methods
As a soccer coach, I have noticed two perspectives in coaching sports. There is the coaching method that corrects every mistake a player makes. This coach often threatens to pull a player off the field if they continue to make errors. Fear of failure, it is thought, drives the player to perform. Then there is the coaching method that encourages a player to push their limits through experimentation and development. These coaches know that learning takes place through trial and error. The player is not negatively motivated by fear but encouraged to keep trying in the face of mistakes. They don’t fear failure but see it as a growth opportunity.
God is like the second coach. He understands feelings of failure.
The Fears of Isolation and Abandondment
Fear is a powerful emotion that is experienced by everyone. It’s usually an unpleasant feeling producing anxiety, dread, or emotional paralysis. Dread is the fear of anticipating something disagreeable that has yet to happen. Fright is experienced when danger suddenly approaches. Terror is overwhelming fear. Panic is an unreasonable fear that spreads quickly and causes poor judgments. These forms of fear can paralyze a believer into not sharing their faith.
The fear of being alone is one such paralyzing fear. It’s often associated with feeling like God is nowhere to be found (Ps 14:1). A sense that God is not present can be from ignorance of his existence, rebellion against his will, or allowing fear to dominate your emotions (Rom 1:18-28). Fearing isolation can leave a person feeling powerless and overwhelmed.
Fears Hindering Evangelism
Are you hesitant to share your faith? Do feelings of inadequacy, or rejection, or the unknown hold you back from telling others about what Jesus has done for you? The fear of evangelizing is not only a common experience for Christians, it is an ongoing concern as you grow in your faith. Let’s begin a study on eight significant fears that hinder sharing your faith. At the end of each study are questions you can use in a group discussion, ask yourself, or use as prayer bullets as you seek God’s help in overcoming any fears you might have that discourage personal evangelism.
Thousands of human fears have been identified. If you printed them on a scroll it would stretch more than fifty feet!
There is the fear of taking a bath (ablutophobia) and the fear of being dirty (automysophobia). There is the fear of marriage (gamophobia) and of remaining single (anuptaphobia). There is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth (arachibutyrophobia). There is the fear of confined spaces (claustrophobia) and of being left out in the open (agoraphobia). There is a fear of cats (felinophobia) and dogs (cynophobia). There is the fear of meat (carnophobia) and vegetables (lachanophobia). There is a fear of belly buttons (omphalophobia) and of bald people (peladophobia). There is the fear of the number 666 (hexakosioiherxekontahexaphobia). But that is not the longest term for phobias. That word is Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia, which is the fear of long words. There is a fear of Church (ecclesiophobia), of saints (hagiophobia), of heaven (ouranophobia), of hell (hadephobia), of Satan (satanophobia), of crosses (staurophobia), and of God (theophobia). There is even the fear of being afraid (phobophobia).