How to Step Out In Faith When You Fear Failure

Sweet friend,

Failure is one of the scariest words in the English language. Well, at least for me it is. I have had a major fear of failure for as long as I can remember. The thought of acting on something without fully knowing the outcome has given me major anxiety for most of my life. If I didn’t know for sure that I would succeed, then I usually made the decision to stay exactly where I was.

You may be familiar with the story of my major career move that required me to step out in faith and leave the secure job I held, with no idea where my next pay check was going to come from. And sure enough, in the final ten minutes of my last day in that position, my phone rang with a job offer. God had come through just in time! And I finally felt what it was like to step out in faith, despite fear of failure (packing up and moving back in with mom and dad because I couldn’t make rent due to unemployment was the worst form of failure I could imagine). And let me tell you…that is a feeling that nothing else can compare to. Knowing that I had the faith within myself to step out, fully trusting God to provide, was a strength like I had never known.

So, maybe you are in  a place of knowing that you need to MOVE. That something needs to change. That action must be taken. But you have no idea what you’re supposed to be moving toward. Or maybe you do know but the route to get there is impossibly vague and you can’t see a logical way to make it work. Maybe you’re facing a choice of college major, a career shift, a major move for your family, or stepping into the life that you know God has called you to. But making that decision without knowing if you will succeed feels like stepping into a puddle of water with no way of knowing just how deep it goes…or whether or not you will be able to swim if it happens to be over your head.

If that sounds like an accurate description of your life right now, then I want to walk you through all the ways that you can step out in faith even though you’re scared to death that you may fail.

  1. Let Go of Your Comfort

Perhaps the scariest part of stepping out in faith is realizing that we have to let go of the comfort of what we have known for THIS season. A steady job, a familiar relationship, a place we have known all of our life….these things can be incredibly difficult to let go of if we have known them for any length of time. But, in order to move forward in any plan that God has for our life, we must be willing to walk away from what we know.

God never called us to comfort. He never promised that we would always be in a safe, familiar place and never know uncertainty or change. But He has promised that He has a specific plan for our life, with all things working together for our GOOD.

So, if fear of letting go of what you have known or what makes you feel safe is keeping you from stepping out in faith and trusting God’s plan for your life I invite you to really examine your life and surroundings. Did you reach this point by staying where you once were? Or did you have to make yourself uncomfortable and move into the next season of your life? Our entire lives are made up of transitions and fearing those transitions is exactly what will hold us back from the best things that God has planned for us.

I used to be the girl who feared change — I never wanted anything to change. I wanted to stay exactly where I was comfortable forever. Leaving for college was very difficult for me because for so long I had been trying to keep things exactly the same. And it was a leap of faith for sure — I had no idea if I had picked the right school, the right major, or if I wouldn’t fail that first semester and come back home with my head hanging down in shame. But not knowing the answer to those questions did not mean that I shouldn’t go — it just meant that I simply didn’t know the outcome.

And, of course, the changes didn’t stop there. I had to graduate and pursue a career, I left behind a comfortable, long-term relationship and started pursuing the right relationship. I moved to a new town for a job that I would later give up. I got married, purchased a home, even started this blog: all sorts of uncomfortable things! And I can trace each one of them back to the day I left for college. I tell you all of that to show you that change is not just a part of your young life or even just something you must endure once or twice. Change is forever around the corner. So, the sooner we let go of our comfortable mindset in this life and learn to be open to whatever God has for us, the easier it will be to step out in faith when those seasons come.

2. Accept that Failure Happens to Everyone

Yes, even you, high achiever. We all make the wrong decisions at some point. We all get overwhelmed. We all fail to measure up. But the beautiful thing is that even when failure does happen, it doesn’t matter to God.

The one thing you must understand about stepping out in faith is this: God doesn’t call us to step out because He knows or even promises that we will succeed; He calls us to step out so that He can show us that even in our failures He can work all things for our good. He just wants us to trust Him and stop relying on our own abilities to carry us through this life.

Once you accept that no one journeys through this life free from failure, it seems much easier to risk the possibility. You can rest easy in knowing that God can use the failures we feared most to glorify Himself and propel us even further into the plan He has for our life.

3. Remember God’s Goodness

Whenever I start to feel fearful about a season in life or decision I must make, my husband always reminds me of all the ways that God has blessed already. Reflecting on all of the amazing things He has already done, all of the ways He has brought us through seasons of uncertainty, I find peace. How can I be fearful of anything when I see all the great things He has already done?

So, when stepping out in faith on a decision feels absolutely terrifying, just recount all of the times that God has come through already. Think of every moment that you were overwhelmed by fear — didn’t He see you through that moment? If you can focus on God’s goodness in any situation, then those tough decisions don’t seem quite so tough after all. And the fear of failure seems far less terrifying.

So, when you’re called to step out in faith but fear comes knocking, telling you all the million ways that everything could go wrong and how you could walk away from this choice with injuries and scars, just remember that God can use even the ashes from our worst choices to make something GOOD. Just recount all the times you have made the wrong choice (because we all have!) and He was still able to turn it around into something that demonstrates His grace, mercy, and goodness.

Here is the final thing I want you to store away in your memory and pull out every time that fear of failure comes creeping in: Even if you fail, even if you fail BIG TIME, even if you completely change the direction of your life with one single decision….you can NEVER change how God feels about you. And you can never get yourself into so much trouble that He can’t bring you out stronger than you were before. This is not permission to go out and make reckless choices. This is an invitation to live with complete faith in God’s power to change our lives, to point us in the right direction when we seek His counsel, and to use our lives and every decision we make to further His Kingdom. All we have to do is TRUST.

Difficult decisions will always come in this life. There is no way around it. But, we can be better equipped to handle them if we live a life of faith and cover all of those decisions in prayer. So, if you are struggling with a choice that may require you to step out in faith, I would like to invite you to send me a message and let me help you pray for this choice. My inbox is always open and I will try to respond as quickly as I can. We all need a good friend to lift us up in prayer.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Juanita says:

    Hi Sidney,

    Your article lifted me up in my current situation. I had to give up my job due shift and weekend work timings to take care of my daughter. This was a major decision I had to take. I have been praying and waiting for the right job and it can be frustrating at times. But I trust God Will care of me and my needs.

    1. Kerri says:

      I love this!! I’m going through a season and have been in it for a few years. Prayer would be appreciated!

  2. Sharney says:

    Hi Sidney!
    I want to tell you that I appreciate you pushing through the hard changes to write this blog. I recently started following you on Pinterest and I so enjoy your blog posts, they’re so helpful to me! I keep coming back to this post because it’s right where I’m at in this season. I am have a difficult time trusting God to lead me into a greater season of using the potential He’s created in me. It scares me, some of the things that will be impressed on my heart to do, and I’m not quite sure how to push through and just do it. But I’m learning little by little! Thank you so much for your words!

  3. Shawn says:

    This is where I am right now in my life! This blog post is conformation of what God is leading me too. I am stepping out, I have stepped out in big ways by the leading of the spirit and I am trusting God for what’s next! For a few days I have been fearful that I have heard wrong. Then I come across your blog post and it is another gentle reminder, The best is yet to come!

  4. Kathryn MacKorell says:

    Thank you for your post. Even two years after you wrote it, it encouraged me this morning. I’m at the crossroads of a decision to lead women in worship when I’ve never been that person before. It scares me to death! I am praying for clear direction and simply want to be obedient.

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