Success is Facing Your Fear of Failure With Jesus

It was a defining moment when I faced my fear of failing and looking foolish in the most important purpose of my life.

Before I tell you that story let’s chat a bit about success and failure.

We all want to be a success. We want to make a positive difference for God and for people in our work, ministry, and especially our relationships with family and friends.

But we’re held back by our fear of failure. 

What failure means differs from one person to the next. For the lead pastors we help they think they’re failing if their church is declining. For people in business failure is losing money. For many of us failure feels like being judged or rejected by a loved one or those we’re ministering to.

We “know” that failure is not fatal because the Bible teaches, “It is by grace you have been saved, not by works” (Ephesians 2:8-9). But still at a deep feeling level, ingrained in our bodily operating system, we live by conditions of worth: “I am good and lovable if I do _________.”

We’re afraid to not measure up, to feel ashamed. 

Today Kristi and I are facing our fear of failure. As you may have heard us share in recent months, we’ve stepped out into a new season of risk in our leadership of Soul Shepherding, Inc. We’ve been meeting with consultants and coaches, asking lots of questions, re-thinking our ministry, working with employees and partners, trying new things, and especially praying. 

Soon we’ll be unveiling a new website that rolls out of what we believe the Lord is calling us into as the next phase of Soul Shepherding. It’s exciting and it’s scary!

Extending Soul Shepherding may not work. We might not love our ministry in the future as much as we have in the past. We might be taking on too much. We might lose money. We might fail.

But we’re not letting fear of failure hold us back from possibly doing something greater for God!

That’s what I decided fifteen years ago. I was sitting across the table from Ray Ortlund, Sr. at a restaurant, eating basketfuls of chips as we talked about my life and ministry and God’s calling. 

I was sharing about my work as a therapist, teacher of lay counselors in a church setting, and my new focus on ministry to pastors. I was committed to being the best Christian psychologist I could be and yet the professional role felt confining to me. I felt God stirring me, but I was stressed and struggling to discern what the Spirit was saying. 

Ray looked at me with moist eyes and a brightened face, “Bill, I’ve never met a psychologist like you who is so devoted to Jesus. Don’t hold back. Let everyone see what you show me. Let your heart for Jesus hang out. If some people think you’re silly or foolish so be it. Be all and only for Jesus!”

Intimacy with Jesus: that’s the secret of your life and ministry! 

Kristi and I took courage from Ray and others to become therapists who transcend a clinical role to be pastoral and to cultivate intimacy with Jesus. That led to the brith of Soul Shepherding. Continuing in intimacy with Jesus is powering us forward in this new season of ministry.

That’s why I write this Soul Shepherding blog to you each week: I want us to be soul friends, encouraging each other to be delightfully captivated with Christ as the joy of our hearts and the power source of our loving and leading.


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