Psychologists make a distinction between healthy and unhealthy fear. Healthy fear helps us make wise decisions such as preparing for a test or wearing a seatbelt. Unhealthy fear can paralyze a leader from making decisions or cause someone to be untrusting of others.
Below are the four common and unhealthy fears I have seen. I am not suggesting this is an exhaustive list, but these are four fears I regularly saw as an executive leader who often heard from other leaders and as a pastor who has been among people. I also see them in my own personal struggles.
- Fear of failure
- Fear of not being enough
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of not providing
Healthy Fear vs Unhealthy Fear
The Scripture also makes a distinction between healthy and unhealthy fear. Look at these two verses in Proverbs:
The fear of mankind is a snare, but the one who trusts in the Lord is protected.
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning people away from the snares of death.
Both passages mention fear and snares. When I lived in Miami and went lobstering in the ocean with friends, we would use fear and a snare—a net—to catch lobster. We placed a net behind the lobster and simply tapped on the ground with a stick in front of the lobster. The lobster, afraid of the stick, would back into the net and in a few hours it would be a delicious dinner. If we fear mankind, we are backing into a snare of death. But if we fear God, we enjoy real life and are saved from the snares of death. Fearing God and having awe, wonder, and respect for God, bring life. Fearing other things only hurts us.