She walked out of the appointment with a smile on her face.
I caught her in the hallway, relieved to see the smile. “How did it go?”
“Really well.” Her eyebrows lifted with her voice, as if nothing could have surprised her more. “She said she wants to see the full manuscript.”
I rejoiced with my friend over this good news. An agent had asked to see my fellow writer’s full manuscript after a successful pitch appointment. In the world of writing, this is great news and a tremendous opportunity.
But after a hug and some cheers, my friend’s expression changed from signaling joy to revealing trepidation. “Now I have to finish it up and send it to her.”
I just returned from the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference—one of the premier conferences for Christian fiction writers and industry professionals. The conversation I recounted above isn’t the only one I had at the conference that transpired along the same lines.
Other writers spoke to me about opportunities they’d had at last year’s conference or via a different venue that they still hadn’t followed through on. These friends wondered if it was too late to take advantage of the opportunity they’d let sail away.
I’ve been there myself. Elation at a marvelous opportunity that I can’t believe has suddenly opened up to me is quickly tempered with doubts and fears. Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, and months turn into a year or longer…the opportunity languishes and eventually disappears. And I’m left wondering why I never took advantage of it.
It’s easy to stand objectively on the sidelines of a story like this one and say you would never waste an opportunity like that, but I know that most of us, non-writers included, have done the same.
Many of us have been given an opportunity—whether in business, education, sports, the arts, love, or something else—that we let slip by without taking the step to grab hold of it.
The reasons or excuses for missing such opportunities are plentiful. God may legitimately call us in a different direction. He may bring trials or calamity into our lives that render the opportunity unimportant or no longer viable.
But in most cases, I think the root cause of our procrastination and defeats when we’re given big opportunities is—you guessed it—fear.
Believe it or not, this is good news! It means that all we have to do to make sure we don’t miss taking advantage of a great opportunity again is to defeat one enemy. Yes, fear can be an enormous and tough foe. But God assures us through His Word that we can and will defeat all fear.
If we’re going to win, we need to start off with a battle strategy to beat the specific fears that plague us when we’re given a wonderful opportunity. Here are five of those fears and the answering strategies or truth that will help us defeat them:
5 FEARS THAT WASTE OPPORTUNITY (AND HOW TO BEAT THEM)
1. I’m Not Good Enough
Some of us don’t seize opportunities God gives us because we feel inadequate. We’re sure we won’t find success even if we do take that extra step to use the opportunity, so why bother?
The editor was only being nice when he asked for my proposal. The church friend just felt sorry for me when she asked me to lead a Bible study. My boss offered me more responsibility only because he knew I’d been at the job for ten years.
BEAT THE FEAR:
Do you see the “I” and “me” focus of this kind of thinking? Remember that, as C. S. Lewis said, true humility isn’t thinking less about ourselves, but thinking about ourselves less.
The Bible says we’re not good enough (Isaiah 64:6). But Jesus is more than good enough, and thanks to His sacrificial death for us, we now have His righteousness and glory imputed to us. Only through and because of Him are we good enough.
If you put Jesus and His glory above your self-esteem, however low that may appear to be, then the fear of not being good enough won’t hold you back.
2. It’s Too Good to Be True
If you’re a pessimist like me, you probably deal with this particular obstacle a lot. Though it may not appear to be a fear on the outside, a deeper look reveals fear lurking beneath.
There’s a fear of appearing foolish or gullible when the opportunity turns out to be illegitimate. There’s the worry that you will pour effort and time, hopes and dreams, into that one basket, only to experience painful disappointment when the chance turns out not to be what you thought.
BEAT THE FEAR:
While discernment and wise caution are good traits, we need to also recognize that at the root of this fear is often a lack of trust in the goodness of God. Our God does give good gifts!
The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life. – Proverbs 22:4
Don’t miss out on His gifts and rewards because you fear they’re too good to be true.
3. What If I Fail?
Often we don’t take advantage of opportunities because we’re afraid of the fallout if we don’t succeed. The fear of failure can keep you from a lot of joy and work for God if you let it. Believe me, I know from personal experience with this fear.
BEAT THE FEAR:
If God has given you this opportunity, He has also given you everything you need to complete it to His purpose (2 Tim. 3:17, 2 Sam 22:40). He has already prepared this opportunity for you in advance (Eph. 2:10), so all you need to do is walk in it.
Remember that God views success and failure with different eyes than the world we live in (Gal. 1:10). If you are working to fulfill His call and purpose in your life, and you seize the opportunities He gives you with obedience and His glory as your goal, then failure is not a possibility.
4. Rejection Hurts!
Nobody likes to be rejected. And some of us fear that bitter, painful feeling more than others. Especially if you have a history of tasting rejection from people you love or those you respect, rejection might be a looming, paralyzing terror in your life.
BEAT THE FEAR:
Remember that your identity is found in Christ. Jesus Himself told us that we will be rejected in this world, because He was rejected (Luke 21:17, John 15:18). Rejection because we serve Christ and bear His name is not a bad thing and we will be greatly rewarded for such rejection (Luke 6:22).
But what about when we’re rejected because our work isn’t seen as good enough? Or because of other superficial or even practical reasons?
The key is to see God at work in these rejections. No one, NO ONE, can reject you for anything, no matter how insignificant, unless that rejection is orchestrated and brought about by God, the One who has planned, controls, and oversees every minute aspect of our lives.
If we rail against a rejection, we’re railing against God for letting it happen. Instead, try to see God’s hand in the rejection. He will be in it, I guarantee it.
In that way, the rejection transforms into another opportunity. God uses rejection to make us stronger and lead us in the direction we’re supposed to go, the better path that will lead us to much greater things.
So rejection isn’t rejection at all—it’s an opportunity in disguise.
(If you want 30 more, helpful ways to face rejection, check out this great post over at Emily Conrad’s blog.)
5. It Won’t Be Enough
Perhaps this fear plagues the wiser folks out there more than others. These are the people who can look beyond the immediate thrill of a great opportunity to realize, perhaps even subconsciously, that this opportunity might let them down.
Many of us rest all our hopes in a dream of some kind. We believe that the seemingly unattainable wonder will make us truly happy, give us fulfillment, or give us purpose.
If we suddenly get the opportunity to grab hold of that dream, we might seize it. Later, we’ll inevitably discover that the dream wasn’t all we’d made it out to be. It didn’t give us a perfect life, fix our problems, or bring us peace.
The people who can see this possibility in advance are wise to do so. But that foresight can lead to fear of such disappointment. That fear can cause us to let God-given opportunities pass us by.
BEAT THE FEAR:
If you haven’t acted on an opportunity because you fear it won’t be everything you hope it will be, take a moment to examine your hopes. If you’re expecting the opportunity to offer you the types of benefits I’ve listed above, then you’re in for a letdown.
That would mean you also need to work at drawing nearer to God. He is the only source of lasting joy, peace, hope, fulfillment, and purpose. Read and study His Word. Make God a priority in your life, in every decision you make and through times of worship and prayer.
If God has the top spot in our lives and we’re looking to Him for our deepest needs, then the opportunities He gives us won’t let us down. They’ll be the cherries on the top.
Which fear do you face when given an opportunity? Do you have an opportunity right now you’re afraid to seize? Please share!