Welcome back to the What’s holding you back? series. Last week we talked about knowing your goal and picking one you can commit to. You can check it out here. Today we’re going to think about one reason we might be afraid to reach a goal: what other people may say.
Most people have insecurities, some more deep than others. Especially if your goal reaches into one of these, what people do, or even might, say can be terrifying. Enough criticism, even if it’s about something we aren’t particularly unsettled about to begin with, can become impairing. So I tend to try to avoid situations where I’m likely to be criticized. The problem with that is it limits what I’m willing to do or try. I’ve missed a lot of experiences because of it.
It’s something I think about with my writing. It hasn’t stopped me from doing it, but there are things I would have done or would have done differently if it hadn’t been for this fear. Sometimes people ask me about my writing, and I’m embarrassed to talk about it. I’ve tried to figure out why this is. I don’t write things I’m ashamed of. The only thing I keep coming back to is that writing is totally optional, and it’s something I took it upon myself to do. It puts something personal out into the world for criticism or praise. And if it turns out horribly, I alone am completely responsible.
So how do we deal with this fear? First, we can keep our focus on why we’re doing what we’re doing. If we have good reasons behind our goals, let’s remember those. We can think too about Who we are working for. As Christians, anything we do ultimately reflects back to God.
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men – Colossians 3:23
At the end of the day, as long as God is pleased with us, that’s all we really need to be concerned with.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31
In a way, we can take negativity as a good sign. Jesus told us we would be talked about badly. And sadly, this will happen. As long as it’s for doing something good, then we don’t need to feel guilty.
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. – Matthew 5:11
We need to be ready for criticism whether we fail or succeed. The apostles were persecuted and killed because they were teaching their faith well. It’s easy to get in a mindset of trying to do good at something so nobody will bother us. Sometimes that works, but the brightest objects in the night sky are noticed first. With success comes more visibility, so negative criticism may even get worse. We can’t stop it; we just need to be prepared for it.
Even if we fail, and we’ll likely hear about it if we do, we can still hold our heads up because we tried. Maybe my story that I’m querying right now will never get published. In a way, that would be a failure. But it’s been a good learning experience, and I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people because of it. So I don’t regret it.
What about good attention, though? It’s not all bad. There will be people (hopefully) along the way who encourage us. Accept it. Look for a few people who will support you whether things are going well or not. Listen to them. If your goal takes you on to bigger things, weigh the good feedback. Enjoying it is good, but never let it be what completely drives you.
Good or bad, we need to keep our focus from becoming what people say to or about us. If your goal is worth it to you, and if you’re doing something God would be pleased with, then keep working away. Find your cheerleaders, and maybe we can even encourage each other.
What about you? How do you handle negative, or positive, attention? Let me know!
Next week we will be talking about how fearing ourselves can hold us back.
May the Lord bless and keep you,