Fear of failure is one of the most diabolical mindsets an athlete or team can have. We’ve all seen it, and we see it especially this late in the NFL season when there is so much at stake. As the regular season winds down, the pressure increases for every play of every game, particularly for those who are trying to fight their way into the postseason. This intense pressure can generate two different responses—one positive and the other negative. Some players thrive on pressure, and they rise to the occasion. (These guys, by the way, are called champions.) Others, however, are paralyzed by fear of failure. At some point, their response to the pressure is that, rather than trying to win, they are playing “not to lose” (think, “prevent defense”). Those who play “not to lose” inevitably end up losing because their fear of failure prevents them from doing the very things necessary for victory.
In life, we too can be paralyzed by a fear of failure. It can cause us to shrink from the challenges of life rather than embracing them in the strength and grace of Christ. When facing the giant Philistine warrior Goliath, the armies of Israel’s King Saul wilted under the pressure of the moment. Their fear of failure kept them from stepping up to the challenge at hand. From David, the young shepherd boy, however, we see a different response. Armed with confidence in God and experiences that had strengthened his faith, David told Saul:
Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine (1 Samuel 17:32).
This was not mere bravado. It was confidence in God that gave courage for the challenge. When facing giant problems in life, it is good to know that we don’t need to fear failure. We can trust in the God who is greater than any challenge we face, and we can stand in His strength.
Join us tomorrow on Sports Spectrum radio as we take a further look at the need for confidence in Christ as we face the challenges of life.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain