I was up the face of the cliff about 100 feet. I had joined the local Jerusalem rock climbing club for a day in the wilderness. The rocky cliffs in this barren area of Israel are where David fled from King Saul. I was there taking it all in, exhilarated at the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

At 100 feet I looked down – way down – and a panic began to rise in my throat. Fear had paralyzed me on a previous climb. I had clung to the face of the cliff, unable to move. I knew the only way down was to control that fear, to command my limbs to move and my mind to ignore the dire warning of impending death.

Fear is a powerful emotion. Note how often in the Bible, God or his messenger says, “Fear not!”

Everyone struggles at some time with fear, especially leaders who are responsible for crucial things. But decisions and actions made in fear don’t generally move us in a productive direction. The consequences of fear-based decisions paralyze us and complicate the journey.

The command “Fear not!” is communicated to your spirit, that deepest part of you that is ultimately in charge of everything, including the mind and emotions. The command “Fear not!” is given precisely because we are experiencing fear! So how do we “fear not” when we are fearful?

  1. Allow your spirit to take charge of your mind and body. Yes, you can command your mind, will, and emotions. You do not have to be the fear you have or cast a shadow by leading from fear. You can choose to lead from places like faith and hope, and from trust in a good God.
  2. Allow the Spirit of God to speak into your fear. Sometimes God allows circumstances to surface fear, so he can speak deeply to your spirit. When you become aware of fear, ask Jesus what he wants to say to you about it, then keep listening. He may speak through a spontaneous thought or mental image, or through a “messenger” – e.g. a friend, sermon or book.

I came down safely from that cliff in Israel, trembling but joyful at conquering fear and experiencing a thrill of a lifetime. This became a life-long lesson I look back on whenever fear threatens to paralyze me.

How have you dealt with fear? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment — it might just be the word someone needs to hear.