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Overcoming the Fear of Making Mistakes
If you want to make a difference, then don’t fear mistakes.

Someone once said, "The biggest mistake you can make is continually fearing you will make one." This statement is especially relevant to leaders, because of its potential to limit effectiveness. How so?

The fear of making a mistake can … hinder us from welcoming change…

For starters, the fear of making a mistake can prevent us from expressing our opinions especially when they involve sensitive issues. We don't want to appear uninformed by saying the wrong thing, so we remain silent when we ought to speak up.

The fear of making a mistake can also hinder us from welcoming change or trying new programs lest they fail. Doubts fill our minds: What if volunteers don't step forward? What if we don't have enough money? What if it fizzles? Maybe I'm assuming this idea is heaven-sent when, in reality, it's just my own fleeting fancy. Maybe I should play it safe and stick with what I know will work.

If you've wrestled with this type of fear, remember that mistakes don't signal the end of the world. Neither do they lessen our worth in God's eyes. Mistakes do, however, provide learning opportunities that teach us how to attempt new projects more effectively next time.

Gary Thomas writes, "Many people choose safe lives in which failure (and, therefore, real success) is highly unlikely. They never take risks, and they never fail; but they also die without any real service. They may never make a mistake, but they'll also never make a difference." Effective leaders are those who blaze new territory, rather than choosing the safe route. Sometimes, this means failure by human standards; sometimes it means whopping success. It always requires the willingness and courage to make mistakes. How can you find this courage?

  • Be honest with God and others about your fear.
  • Ask several mature believers to pray for you in this regard.
  • Ask God to show Himself strong in your weakness.
  • Move forward, do your best, and let God do the rest.

As a leader, be bold and don't allow the fear of making a mistake hinder your effectiveness. Try new ideas, remembering that the One who has called you will also guide your decisions as you seek to honour Him.

Grace Fox lives in Abbotsford, B.C. She and her husband direct International Messengers Canada, an organization that offers creative short-term and career ministry opportunities in Eastern Europe. The mother of three children, Grace has chronicled her journey of trust in three devotional books entitled 10-Minute Time Outs for Moms; 10-Minute Time Outs for Busy Women; 10-Minute Time Outs for You & Your Kids and also her latest, Moving from Fear to Freedom. Her website is:


Originally published in the newsletter, Growing with Grace, Fall 2007.

Used with permission. Copyright © 2009





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