FEAR IN DECISION MAKING
By DANNY MINTON
March 4, 1933, opened with a mostly cloudy sky, the sun peeking through at times then disappearing behind the gray fluff overhead. The temperature was a chilly 42 degrees. The nation was in the midst of one of the lowest economic times in history. Jobs were scarce, and families were desperately seeking ways to make ends meet.
It was on this day that Franklin D. Roosevelt took the podium for the first time to accept the office of president of the United States, beginning with the words, “I am certain that on this day my fellow Americans…” He would speak about the needs of the nation and the end ask for God’s blessing on our country and God’s guidance for himself and decision making. There are probably few if any people who remember first-hand the twenty-minute speech he gave that day 85 years ago. However, most of us, believe it or not, can quote one part of his inaugural address. The line comes a little over a minute into his address, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”
Fear is a strong motivator. Politicians use it to rally people around their beliefs and against those they oppose. Fear often causes us to do things we wouldn’t normally do as well as keeping us from doing things we should. Preachers may use fear to invoke people to act, not out of love and a change of heart but because of the consequences that may come about. People fear people because of the color of their skin or their nationality. People fear things they cannot see and do not understand. Many fear death, not comfortable with what lies ahead for us after we die. Fear of making a wrong decision often looms over us.
There are times that fear is good. If you’re in a pasture and a bull starts charging after you, fear takes over, and you run. When we know the consequences of our actions will bring disaster, fear keeps us from going further.
However, when it comes to serving the Lord and making decisions, fear is something we should learn to put aside. When we trust in God, he helps our fears. The great ballplayer, Babe Ruth, once called “The King of Strikeouts” said, “Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.”
Decisions can be hard to make. Decisions dealing with our family, our job, our schooling, our health, and our future can take a lot of serious thought. It is then that fear can come in, making us second guess our decisions. Maybe we’re afraid we’ll make the wrong decision and be worse off than we are at present. Fortunately, most of these decisions will turn out fine. Then of course, sometimes we will strike out.
In the parable of the talents, the one that the master was most disappointed in was the man who hid his talent. It wasn’t that he struck out. It was because he didn’t even swing that upset his master. He didn’t try. I often wondered what if he had tried and failed? What if he had made an investment and lost the talent? What if he had made just one-half talent more? We’ll never know. We do know that he was considered unworthy because he didn’t even swing. He was afraid that he’d strike out. He was afraid that he’d make the wrong decision.
Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times in his career and another 30 times in the World Series. He struck out almost twice as many times as he had home runs, yet he is known for his great hitting ability. He was not afraid to strike out because he knew he was also going to hit a home run somewhere in between.
We all have to make decisions every day, but we should never let the fear of making a wrong decision keep us from making decisions. Sure, we’ll make some bad choices and mistakes. Sure, that will disappoint us and others. But on the other hand, in between will come the home runs. Babe Ruth is still the standard that hitters are measured against even today, but not because of his strikeouts, because of his power.
We should never let the fear of making a mistake get in the way of moving forward for God. After all, he is our strength and power.
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. Psalm 56:4
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ