The Fear of Man

Pleasing people is based upon fear of man. Being motivated by fear of man displeases God, and disqualifies us for leadership in His kingdom.

1 S 13:7 But as for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. 8 Now he waited seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him. 9 So Saul said, “Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering.

10 As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came ; and Saul went out to meet him and to greet him. 11 But Samuel said, “What have you done ?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, 12 therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the LORD.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.” 13 Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, for now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.

14 “But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”

Seeking to please people comes from wrong motives of the heart, valuing the way people see us, approve of us, and reward us more than the approval and reward of God.
We must examine our motives – ask why am I doing this with revelation-based insight.
We cannot live in bondage to other people’s emotions, demands, expectations, and desires if we intend to lead in God’s kingdom where we must keep the King happy.

J 12:42-43, Many people, including some of the Jewish leaders, believed in him. But they wouldn’t admit it to anyone because of their fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. 43 For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.

I spent a great deal of time considering whether or not to speak in tongues because of the nearly overwhelming sense I had of what people would think of me, how it would image my ministry, and what I would look like “babbling,” etc. the basis for my difficulty was a fear of man bondage.

Who are you trying to impress? You may be expending tremendous energy and paying a high priced to impress people you don’t even like, who certainly couldn’t care less about your destiny.

J 5:43
For I have come to you representing my Father, and you refuse to welcome me, even though you readily accept others who represent only themselves. 44 No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from God alone.

• You may be abusing your own destiny to please people. You feel guilty when you feel you aren’t pleasing people.
• You feel that people are talking about you behind your back.
• You measure your value in other people’s eyes and what they say. You attempt to deal with things that are not your responsibility because if anything is wrong you may get the blame.
• You allow others to take advantage of you trying to find approval you can’t receive.
• You push yourself to performance that is beyond your reach or inconsistent with your priorities.
• You worry about what is wrong, what needs to be done, what people think, because you trust yourself to fix things more than God.

Because you cannot get approval, you refuse to approve anyone else. You blame others for your sense of guilt and falling short. You criticize leaders, bring them down to your level, in a vain attempt to feel better about your own sense of failure.

God’s approval is never enough for you, and He won’t jump to your conclusions about approval. In other words, you look to others to give you what you can only get from God, and God will continue to force you back to His approval since you are a leader in His kingdom.

To lead, you must be content with God’s approval or you will never make it in His kingdom leadership. You cannot please people.

Proverbs 29:25
The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.

When you seek the approval of man because you fear man, the snare makes your leadership insecure and you fail to be decisive and proactive.

Leaders make decisions and solve problems and fear of man hesitancy will make your leadership ineffective; full of self-doubt you will step back when you should step up.

You need God’s favor, not man’s. If you seek the approval of man, you will disqualify yourself for the favor of God.

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Dr. Don

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  • I suspect that this problem in the believer is most likely far bigger than we imagine. The example about speaking in tongues resonates as I have been there myself. However when I drilled down more and more in my own life with respect to my own fear of man I found it was rooted in personal experiences of rejection, abandonment and lack of affirmation. It was not enough for me to have a mere cognitive, nevertheless Biblical understanding of what fear of man was in order to gain victory over it. Freedom came to me when through the help of trusted friends I visited those painful areas with the Lord and had by the power of His Presence replace rejection with acceptance, abandonment with “I will never leave you”, and lack of affirmation with “a new identity in Him”. This has been my experience how God replaced fear of man with fear of God.

  • I fear that I have the fear of man. Examining myself I realize that the fear of man in my life is so subtle, that it’s really hard to pinpoint. Quite often it determines the way I act around people, what I say, how I say it. I know that GOD cannot use me to full extent, if I’m going to be pleasing people. Often I would think that I’m doing good to others in order to please GOD, but if I look a little deeper I realize that my good deed is influenced more by what I feel the other person is going to think of me. “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” The first step in healing is admitting you have a problem, and then laying it before the feet of Christ by prayer and fasting. Only GOD can release us!


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