I attended the annual Global Leadership Summit on Thursday and Friday of this week. If you aren’t familiar with this event, it is put on by Willow Creek Church in Chicago. I attended the Summit here in Fort Wayne at a simulcast site. It is a great conference, with both Christian and secular leaders from around the world giving their best advice on how to lead others well. It is always inspiring and challenging.
The last speaker of the conference this year was Gary Haugen of the International Justice Mission. He said, “Fear is the silent destroyer of dreams.” He relayed the story of how he almost didn’t start his organization due to fear. Gary shared that it wasn’t the “normal” fears, like how he would provide for his family, or the dangers that can accompany helping those who are treated unjustly. He said his true fear was the fear of failure.
Gary’s admission of his fear of failure sparked a trail of thoughts in my head. One of the things I have discovered in my search to understand my own behavior is my desire for significance. We all long to be important, to have worth and influence others. I believe this is a God-given desire. Why? Because God gave us great significance when he created us in his image and then gave us the job of governing the earth. He put his ultimate stamp of approval on man when he declared on that we were very good.
Yet, when the fall occurred, Adam and Eve rejected this idea and instead decided to become their own gods. They believed the lie of Satan, when he said they could be like God, knowing good and evil. But Adam and Eve were already like God. They were created in his image. Satan caused them to doubt their significance and they fell for it.
As a result, we all search for significance apart from God. Alternatively, we seek our worth in what others think about us. As we are growing up, we discover what makes others count us worthy. They tell us we are smart or beautiful or gifted with athletics or with music abilities, etc. Once we discover these attributes, we try to excel in those areas. When we succeed and others give us praise, we feel good about ourselves. If we don’t succeed, then we feel bad about ourselves.
Fear grips our hearts when we become afraid of what we imagine others think or will think about us. Our fears can lead to poor decisions and behavior. Gary’s fear of failure almost killed his dream of bringing justice to those who are treated unfairly around the world. Instead, he chose to trust in God. Now after 20 years, his organization has helped millions gain the justice they deserved.
Gary fought his fear by trusting in God. We too can combat the fears that arise when we think our significance is threatened by remembering the gospel. What Jesus did for us gave us more significance than we could ever gain on our own. Jesus gave us the right to become children of God (John 1:12). We are the precious children of the creator. He loves us beyond all measure. Instead of worrying about what others think about us, we need to remember how God sees us because of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
I try to remind myself over and over that it doesn’t matter what my worth might be in peoples’ eyes. My value comes from being an image bearer of the Father and the Son. My worth in God’s eyes is what really counts. My true significance comes from the Creator and how he formed me. He gave me abilities and talents that were meant to glorify him. I can’t take credit for anything because it came from the Father. I feel the most significance when I glorify him. That is what God intended for me from the beginning.
Examine your own thoughts about yourself. What makes you feel valuable? Do you wonder what others think about you? Do you fear failure? If you are not convinced that your worth is based on who God created you to be, to bring him glory, I pray you will renew your mind on the truth. Your significance comes from the Father who loved you enough to sacrifice his son, so that you could become his beloved child. We get to spend eternity with him! Let’s glorify God together.