In all of the men’s groups that I lead, we have been slugging our way through the book of Galatians. One of the verses from Paul’s letter that has meant a great deal to me personally over the years is the question that he poses in Chapter 1, Verse 10;
“For am I now seeking the favor of men or of God? Or, am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”
Life today for most men is all about:
What I do.
And, how successful I am at what I do.
Which then leads me to wonder:
What do you think about me and what I do?
How do you rate what I do?
And this results in the inevitable question:
What if I fail at what I do?
What would you think of me then?
The fear of failure haunts men. It is like a psychological death. I am convinced that most men today are not driven to succeed, they are driven not to fail.
David Sokol clearly was the man in line to succeed Warren Buffett as the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. He had been incredibly successful in the world of business, until he made what many consider unethical stock purchases of a company that he later recommended Berkshire Hathaway should buy. He was forced to resign from the company.
An article about his life in the “Wall Street Journal,” stated that he always worked harder than everyone else because he had “a driving fear of failure.” Though this may be the driving force in a man’s life, generally we are unaware of it.
In order to understand this paralyzing fear, we have to reorganize the underlying thinking that causes it. What we do not recognize is that we are always wondering what are people going to think about us? Paul is challenging the Christians in the churches in Galatia, what are you living for: the approval of men, or the approval of God?
This is where the rubber meets the road in a man’s life. We can live for the approval of men, but then we have to contend with the fear of failure and all the other problems that cascade into our lives (envy, comparison, and shallow relationships).
The alternative is to live for the approval of God. Where Christ is the person whose approval I live for. He is the audience I seek to please. This is the only way for us to be set free from the fear of failure. It is the freedom that will absolutely transform our lives.