Today I’m going to show how people moved by fear make unwise or stupid decisions even if they don’t realize they are being moved by fear, thinking at the time they are doing something right in the Lord.
Jesus said ‘wisdom is known/justified by her children’, which means a wise decision often isn’t seen as wise at the time, but will be confirmed to have been wise by the ramifications and results (children) of the decision. (Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:35)
An idiot of myself?
It was the first time I had ever taken apart a toilet. Chris thought a toy should go for a swim, but it had become lodged on the way down, beyond reach. I remember the Jason’s cry from upstairs like it was yesterday: “Mom! Dad! Chris flushed my Lego man down the toilet and now there’s water all over the floor!”
In my fiddling I had also jarred something that made it ‘run’ constantly, and jiggling the handle didn’t fix it.
So off I went to a hardware store and bought everything in the toilet section that resembled the innards of our toilet, as well as a tool to extract things lodged in a toilet that shouldn’t be there in the first place.
I made the boys keep their distance as I laid out all the parts on the bathroom floor like some master mechanic about to assemble a complicated piece of machinery, though I hadn’t a clue how they all worked together. “There” I thought, “Now I have enough parts to make a complete idiot of myself.”
By process of elimination I figured out what needed to be done, learning the first lesson the wet way – turn off the incoming water supply! But eventually Lego man was saved and we had a working toilet again.
Not knowing what part goes where in decision making
When decisions are laid before us like the dozens of parts to a toilet, we are unsure how they fit together. We pray “Lord help me!” and then march on, putting the pieces together the way we think the pieces of our life should go, only to discover later we made an idiot of ourselves…wisdom, or stupidity, is known by her children. We look back years later wishing we could flush the memory from our minds, and wonder….
Fear is subtle when it comes to decision making. You truly have to know the Father and know His peace in your spirit, as well as know when to use common sense and your own judgement, to make wise decisions.
You also have to realize fear is a spirit – an individual spirit who torments you.
So today I present the first of 3 examples that are composites of everyone and specific to no one, seen in one form or another over nearly 40 years walking with the Father and in ministry most of that time.
#1 – Work situation fear
I needed to confront someone at work about their behavior, but didn’t want to do it. The fear was I’d be fired as it was my boss’ boss. That fear led to thinking about Barb and kids who depended on me as the sole income. That fear led to the boys not being able to stay in the Christian school, and that fear led to me potentially back at the start in some minimum wage position.
And that led to thoughts of selling the house, moving to a cramped apartment…all the worst situations. I began to wonder if it was time for the Lord to open other doors of ministry for me, the standard, “The Lord is moving me on” rationalization/lie/half-truth so many use to cover the truth of their exit from a position.
So I knew first and foremost I had to look to Him to see how I could become more Christ-like in this situation, and what I saw I didn’t like – boldness, standing up for what is right no matter the consequences. I so wished it meant moving on to another job…that would seem to be the easy way out. I wanted an escape from a bad-tempered boss, not having to grow in Christ by confronting him. But I did, and he appreciated the fact I was one of the few who were not ‘yes men’ – I gave him straight answers whether he liked it or not.
Centering on the Lord
Over nearly 4 decades I’ve seen people explaining away their lack of backbone as ‘the Lord is moving me on’. Obviously the Lord does often move us on, but I’m talking about people choosing to back away from a situation by getting another job instead of showing the boldness of a David or Ruth and seeing personal growth, and missing seeing His faithfulness on the other side of the situation.
Usually someone comes in my office or calls or emails that their boss or co-worker is horrible, cursing and saying unethical or immoral things, and often the boss or co-worker is mismanaging their position or company…all of which is true as bosses and coworkers who do the above have larger personal issues.
But when I tell people to consider the possibility that the Lord is trying to grow them as a person, that people like Joseph, Daniel, Deborah, Ruth, young Samuel, and David all needed not a way of escape from a situation, but saw the way of escape was THROUGH the situation into greater maturity in the Lord, they turn away.
There is a time to leave a situation like that, but my experience has been only after you as the salt, have had time to lay out right and wrong to them so they know what could be done. IF they reject His grace which is through you, then the Lord moves you on for they are rejecting not you, but Him in you.
Many first think ‘escape’ rather than ‘how can I become more like Jesus’ in this situation? They would rather uproot their lives, their spouse, their children, their circle of friends looking for a way of escape via another job, trying every way possible to use God as an explanation for giving them a new job, rather than just growing a backbone to stand up and use the authority their position in the firm gives them.
Fear of man is one of the most prevalent fears out there, and the same people who will boast of Christ in them and what amazing things God is doing, posting things in social media or testifying to friends and at church about what God is doing, suddenly lose that boldness when it comes to being the man or woman of God they should be. They think escape instead of standing up to a boss, a co-worker, a peer at work and confronting and/or drawing boundaries as to where they will and will not go.
Dealing with fear BEFORE you pray
Philippians 4:4-6 is one of the few step-by-step instructions in the Word. Paul said “(1) Be careful for nothing, but by (2) prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests make known to God. (3) And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep (hem in, guard) your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
The trouble I was having was that I was carrying the fear all the way through my prayers, and as a result I had no more peace at my ‘amen’ than I did at the start. So I took Paul’s instructions as step 1, then step 2, and then 3, peace will be the result.
I wrestled with fear and worry for 3 weeks, my request waiting like a pressure cooker on the back burner until I dealt with the fear, but I dared not speak my request until I could honestly say I was ‘careful for nothing’. I worked through all the possible combinations in my mind like I did when figuring out the pieces to that toilet.
At the end of each road of fear I found Him standing there with a track record in our lives of faithfulness. Once the final road of fear had been mentally traveled, THEN I unleashed my requests on Him with thanksgiving.
And suddenly the peace from Him overwhelmed my spirit…I knew He had heard, knew He had made provision, and knew the pieces to my situation would be put together in His right order…Now I instantly deal with the fear and can pray and receive that peace – but first starting, it was hard!
Freedom from fear allows us the boldness to do what is right no matter the consequences. Sometimes that means confronting someone at work, the lone employee to define right and wrong, moral and immoral, ethical and unethical for them, choosing to be a Daniel or Ruth rather than lie about how the ‘Lord opened a new job for me’ to everyone.
Sure He did open the job for you, but rest assured, you WILL face that fear of man on down the road, in this job or the next, because He is trying to conform us to Him and won’t give up until He completes the work in us. Next week, family relationship situations.
More on fear and decisions next week! Blessings,