When a person lives in their emotions, and their sense of self-worth is very important to them. They must be well thought of, and live for the approval of people. What develops from there is often known of as fear of man issues.
Fear of man is not easy to detect, because those who struggle with it often have the best attitudes about everything! They are the go-to women who are everywhere doing everything in your churches. Their homes are a beehive of activity, and they are the self-sacrificing wives of busy men. These women rarely say “no ” to anything, and they determine not to let anyone down.
Women who struggle with fear of man issues appear to be so happy and content, especially while they are serving others. In reality, many are prisoners of the good opinions of those people they serve. Ed Welch, in his fantastic book When People Are Big and God is Small says this about fear of man: “It includes being afraid of someone, but it extends to holding someone in awe, being controlled or mastered by people, worshiping other people, putting your trust in people, or needing people” (p. 14). People become “our idol of choice.”
Those with fear of man issues describe themselves as being “shy,” having “love or approval needs,” “People-pleasers,” having an “empty love tank/cup,” or may have picked up the term “co-dependent” somewhere along the way. They truly do not understand that what they have been living is grossly sinful before God.
When people are big their opinions are so very important to us. We have to “fit in” and believe we have to “belong.” I struggled with this whole area so much as I was growing up! I desperately wanted to fit in with those I perceived to be the popular kids. I literally agonized before my clothes closet each morning trying to divine what the girls would be wearing that day- would it be pants or skirts? And when I would get it wrong I was crushed, and my day would be ruined. This constant approval seeking led me to do things I had been raised to know were wrong. I was constantly seeking the positive strokes the approval of others would bring me. The fear of rejection was so great, I constantly adapted to whoever and whatever would bring me the praise of my peers. Fear of man is also known as “peer pressure” so be sure your teens understand that truth!
If you recognize yourself as this kind of idolater rejoice! There is hope for you in Christ to change from one who has an overly high view of man to someone who has a high view of God. Having a proper view of God comes from seeing Him the way the Bible describes Him to be.
“There is no one holy like the LORD, indeed, there is no one besides You” (1 Sam. 2:2)
“…give thanks to Your holy name” (1 Chron. 16:35)
“…I will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.” (Job 36:3)
Even a quick study of the names of God reveals His nature and His character, and all speak of His goodness, righteousness, justice, holiness, mightiness, and love. When we elevate the opinions of people over the Person of God we are headed for disastrous waters. Our focus is to be on the worship of God, and living to reveal Him to others that they might also be drawn to Him through our lives and witness.
Having a “fear of God” meaning reverence and awe of Him becomes our life’s passion. It becomes more important to do what is honorable in God’s eyes despite how others think of us or our decisions and opinions. In our day and age, this may mean taking a stand against a politically correct position or admitting you actually read and believe the Bible. Having a high view of God puts what the Bible says above the opinion of man and government.
Developing a reverence for God over a fear of man requires a commitment to God that goes beyond the superficial. If you are really in the mood for change, pick up Ed Welch’s book, When People Are Big and God is Small. It will open your eyes!