Lesson 1 - Choosing Against Fear
Living as a Person of Influence
“The biggest thing that keeps us from living as a person of blessing in the world is fear,” says Cari. And she’s right. Even those of us who are generally confident or successful people are beset by all kinds of fear every day: fear of failure, fear of risk, fear of others’ opinions of us, fear of rejection.
But when we live in fear, according to Cari, it’s impossible for us to live the kinds of lives that bless other people, since “perfect love casts out all fear” (1 John 4:18).
Name a time when you felt the Holy Spirit prompting you to do something, but you didn’t do it because of fear. What fear or fears, in particular, kept you from using your gifts to bless others? Was it a fear that you weren’t enough? That you would seem incapable or incompetent? Or, maybe it was that you felt unvalued or ashamed. What was it?
Now think of your present life. Where are you letting fear creep into your life above and beyond your identity as perfectly loved?
Catapulters of Good
What Does it Mean to Bless?
To live as someone who blesses other people, Cari argues, is to be a “catapulter of good”—to lavish another person with unexpected love and grace. And, as Cari illustrates with her story of baking for her neighbors after a crisis in her community, this doesn’t have to be anything dramatic.
In fact, a life of faithfulness and blessing is made up of small, ordinary acts. But here again, we have to reckon with fear, which can paralyze us. Of course, we can’t do everything, but fear will prevent us from doing anything:
We have to choose against our fear, and it’s really hard to choose against our fear when our identity has been placed in the hands of the people around us.
And fear, Cari says, is a symptom of a more serious problem: misplaced identity.
Cari suggests that fear is a symptom of a misplaced identity. Why, ultimately, do you think we are so fearful of what other people will think of us?
The Importance of Identity
Before we can bless others—before we can help them become who God intends for them to be—we need to understand who we really are. This is easier said than done in a culture that constantly tells us lies about who we are and where our value comes from.
Now, identities matter because they set the trajectory of our lives: everything we do and say is somehow rooted in our sense of identity. “We are who we pretend to be,” wrote the American novelist Kurt Vonnegut in Mother Night, “so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” In other words, our understanding of who we are—even if it is a false one—inevitably shapes the way that we live and act in the world. This means that if we’re trying to inhabit a malformed view of ourselves, our behaviors will reflect it: we’ll be living a story of ourselves that isn’t true. And when we’re not living in the right story, we won’t be a blessing to others:
What are some of the false or misleading stories our culture tries to tell us about where to find our sense of identity?
Why is it so damaging and dangerous to live out of a false identity?