How to Overcome the Fear of Failure

INSIDE: Does the fear of failure paralyze you? It doesn’t have to! We can learn from Joshua how to overcome this fear by relying on the Lord. (Adapted from the 60 Day Journey through the Bible Challenge: Day 17)

Have you taken the Enneagram personailty test? I did and the results crushed me. It’s not that it told me anything I didn’t already know. I am a 3, an Achiever. This came as no surprise. However, the way the report laid out my personality with such black & white certainty made me feel so “pegged.”   

It’s not everything it said about my personality was bad.

The hard part was when the report revealed my biggest fear…the FEAR OF FAILURE. 


Actually, the truth is that I wasn’t always afraid of failure. In my 20’s and 30’s, I didn’t even think it was an option. I was constantly setting goals and working towards them. I overcame obstacles with youthful, and perhaps foolish, resilience. There was no mountain too high that I didn’t think I could climb!

Now I am in my 40’s and I’m finding that I am much more afraid to fail than I ever was before. But why?

It is because I now understand that God has a purpose for me and each step that I take that is not in the right direction will lead me away from His plans for me.

I want to be careful to follow the right path, make the right choices, and pursue the right calling so that I can bring God glory in all that do.

Do you feel this way too? If so, you are in good company (and I don’t just mean me!).

After 40 years of wandering in the Wilderness and then mourning the death of Moses, it is finally time for the Israelites to head into the Promised Land.

But first, Israel needed a new leader.

You may recall a man named Joshua.

In Ex 17, he “did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek.” God specifically tells Moses to write down the results of that battle “in the ears of Joshua.”

Then, Ex 32, Joshua is with Moses when he comes down the mountain and discovers the people worshiping the golden calf.

In Num 13, we discover Joshua was among the 12 spies that Moses originally sent into the Promised Land. 10 of the men report back that the land is full of giants that cannot be defeated. It is Joshua and Caleb who encourage the people to obey God and go into the land.

Clearly, Joshua has been shadowing Moses’s leadership and has been watching him closely for a long time. So it really isn’t a surprise that in Deut 31, God tells Moses to commission Joshua as his successor.

And though Joshua doesn’t shrink away from this honor and accepts this new responsibility willingly, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t afraid he might fail.

Think about what Joshua has witnessed Moses go through for the past 40 years. The fickle moods of the people along with their complaints and their rebellion, not to mention the level of personal obedience Moses was held to.

Leading the nation of Israel was not an easy job!

The good news here for Joshua is that God makes the same promise to him that He gave to Moses.

“Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.” 

Joshua 1:3 English Standard Version

The fact that God is declaring this land will belong to the people does not negate Joshua’s responsibility to lead them well!

In the next 15 verses, we hear God tell Joshua to be “strong and courageous” three different times and then the people say it to him as well. If we jump back to Moses’s conversation with Joshua when he is commissioned, we see that Moses says the same thing in Deut 31:6.

That is 5 times that Joshua is told to be strong and courageous!

When something is repeated over and over in the Bible, we should take notice and ask why. In this case, leading the nation of Israel in the Promised Land was going to be a daunting, if not a terrifying task.

Remember, Joshua was a real man with real insecurities and fears. Even if he does not expose them as Moses did, Joshua needed this reminder!

Joshua is no more capable of success than any other man without the Lord’s instructions and promises to help him!

What exactly are the promises God makes?

  • “I will be with you.”
  • “I will not leave you or forsake you.”
  • “I am with you where ever you go.”

Joshua prepares the nation of Israel, which is roughly 2.5 million people, to cross the Jordon River, following the Lord’s specific instructions. And again, when the Israelites face Jericho, Joshua does not attack without first asking God what the people should do.

Joshua believes in God’s promises and seeks His will before moving forward.

How do you overcome the fear of failing?

Friend, when you go to God seeking wisdom and courage in humility, He will be there. You constantly put yourself before the Lord and ask, “What is the next step? You lead me! I won’t move until You tell me what to do.”

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You do not have to be controlled or paralyzed by your fear of failure! It is not a question of IF God will be there for you when you need Him, but will you go to Him in your time of need?

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