Courageous Cowards: Fighting Fear with Humility

Updated: Dec 1, 2019

By Ben #NoPlaceLeftOKC Church Planting Resident

via pixabay

When I started the No Place Left residency over a month ago, I was filled with pride. Luckily, I am super humble now… just kidding. The first time I tried to go prayer walking, I ran into one person; they said something to me, and I said something back. Then I just kept walking. No mention of prayer or Jesus. I spent the rest of my walk confessing fear, feeling terrible and ashamed. A few days later, my mentor sent me the Desiring God article “The Most Subtle Form of Pride.” This article helped shift my perspective and opened my eyes to the depth of pride in my life.


The next day Jessica (the other NPL resident) and I went to the house of some Dao Buddhists. Instead of praying for courage and removal of fear, I decided to pray for humility instead. There was still fear and nervousness, but something was different. My heart pounded less and I was more determined to just go.


Later the same week, I woke up with a weird feeling. I thought that if I did not go out and pray with somebody or attempt to tell them about Jesus, I would descend into a dark abyss of shame and probably self-implode. So, I left the house to go walk around the city. I spoke with 8 people that day, and prayed with 7 of them on the spot. I was nailing most of those 10 steps to being afraidthe whole time, though I did have cough drops to counter the mouth dryness. I kept praying for humility and I was able to talk to people.


Thanks Andrew Murray

In the last article, I mentioned how Jesus said the disciples’ fear was rooted in their lack of faith. According to Andrew Murray, true faith is really just humility before God. So here is a super-long quote to help explain more:

“We need only think for a moment what faith is. Is it not the confession of nothingness and helplessness, the surrender and the waiting to let God work? Is it not in itself the most humbling thing there can be,—the acceptance of our place as dependents, who can claim or get or do nothing but what grace bestows? Humility is simply the disposition which prepares the soul for living on trust. And every, even the most secret breathing of pride, in self-seeking, self-will, self-confidence, or self-exaltation, is just the strengthening of that self which cannot enter the kingdom, or possess the things of the kingdom, because it refuses to allow God to be what He is and must be there—the All in All.” [1]

As long as I was trying to conjure up enough courage on my own to go out and share the gospel, I was rejecting my need to rely on God. I was rejecting my place as someone dependent on Him. I was rejecting Him for who He is—the All in All. And I failed miserably.


Become the Least

Jesus told His followers not to fear, but He also told them that if anyone wanted to become greatest in the kingdom of God, he must become a servant or slave—he must take the lowest position. Multiple times Jesus reminded the disciples if they want to follow Him, they basically have to die and leave everything behind. [2]


Why does following Jesus require such drastic measures? “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.”

You can do nothing without Him.

We have to leave ourselves behind because it is “ourselves” which gets in the way of advancing the kingdom. My efforts to become courageous prevent God from working through me.


When I acknowledge my fear for what it is, when I stop trying to become courageous or something else which I am not, I have nowhere else to turn but God. And this is exactly what He wants from me. I can’t do this on my own, which is what He has been trying to tell me for years. Humility is accepting my fear and taking it to God in faith that He will overcome my weakness. Again, Paul boasted in his weakness because he knew it revealed just how powerful God is.


My Paradoxical Life

Since my mentor sent me the article on pride, God has been busy shattering my existence and everything I thought I knew how to do. I realized I was not drowning in fear, but pride. Continuing to pray for humility and the removal of pride, I have grown more spiritually in the last month and a half than I have in the last two years.


I’ve gone on multiple prayer walks since that first one, and two weeks ago went for the first time without my heart pounding in my chest the whole time. My prayer as I went was simply,

God, I have no idea what I am doing. There is nothing I can say or do to save people. So if You want to save them, You have to do something Yourself.

This has remained my basic prayer since.


I am socially awkward. I am fearful. I get anxiety often. I don’t know what to say to people. I usually have no idea what I’m doing. And I still trust myself too much.

Jesus expected as much from His followers, so He sent us the Helper, the Holy Spirit to guide us and embolden us in the work He gave us to do. So I will go to Him, because I cannot do this on my own.


[1]From Humility, by Andrew Murray

[2]Matt. 16:24-27, 19:16-21; Mark 8:34, 10:17-22; Luke 9:23, 14:25-33, 18:18-22; John 12:24-26

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