Fear Not

I recently watched the movie “Jaws” again for the first time in many years. My Dad took me to the theater to see it when it first came out. I do not remember my Dad as one who was easy to scare or startle, so I had to smile during the scene where Richard Dreyfuss’ character, Matt Hooper, is underwater inspecting the sunken fishing boat. The moment when the corpse of the fisherman came out of the hole in the boat was the only time in my life I really remember my Dad jumping and making a “verbal noise” from being startled.

It is natural for us to put our dads on a pedestal of sorts and think of them as brave and unwavering. My Dad is one of my heroes. I think of him that way because of what he overcame, what he accomplished, and how he treated others. Now, with some maturity and experience of my own, I am pretty sure that watching that scene, in that dark theater, was not the only time he was startled, and I am sure there were times of fear in his life.

Fear can be paralyzing. To stick with “Jaws” for a moment, if Matt Hooper gave into his fear, he would not have gone into the cage to try to kill the giant beast. If Chief Brody gave into his fear, he would not have went on the boat, even if were a “bigger boat.” Quint showed no fear until the end when his pride and arrogance resulted in him being the shark’s last supper.

Some Bible scholars say the Bible contains 365 verses that in one way or the other tells us to “fear not”. I have done some independent study on this and cannot find 365 such verses even using a very liberal definition of God telling us not to fear. But the concept of not fearing is in the Bible often—so we can assume God means it! To me the bottom line is that if God says something even only once, we can put our trust and faith in it being the truth.

One of the most personally meaningful verses to me is Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

The original audience for this message were the exiled Jews suffering through their captivity in Babylon. But since God is timeless His promises apply to us if we are in relationship with Jesus. We are not alone, we need not be saddened, in our weakness He is our strength, He lifts us up against anything and everything.

This does not mean we won’t be startled or even afraid at times; what it does mean is “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

Leadership

I will admit I got a bit spoiled in the military with great leaders. These were men and women who get it. They treated the people under their command with respect, with dignity, with care, and with familiarity.

Unfortunately, in my post-military career endeavors (which have been many more than I will tell) I have only had one supervisor that I would call a “leader” (thank you Barb Bush). I have worked for superior managers and administrators, who in their field are outstanding, but in the line of leadership I have not seen much. This is not a personal attack, or a criticism of their professional abilities, just my observation and opinion of leadership.

The biggest differences I have seen is that the great leaders I encountered in the military compared to the effective managers in the civilian world is that the military leaders were people-focused whereas the civilians are task-focused; the military leaders were mission-oriented whereas the civilians are to-do-sheet-oriented; the military leaders had big-picture vision whereas the civilians are tunnel-vision.

Now understand, my statements are pretty generic and again is not meant as an attack on the character or professionalism of the people I have and do work for. It is really an attempt to get to the root difference of what makes a leader; a person of authority who treats their people with respect, with dignity, with care, and with familiarity.

After much study and contemplation, I found one commonality—the leaders I wanted to follow in the military were upfront and bold in their faith; they led in the model of Jesus!

The book of Mark outlines the traits of Jesus’ leadership style:

– He was not self-promoting (1:11) “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.”

– He proclaimed a vision with clarity, simplicity, and directness (1:15) “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.””

– He was a skillful team builder (1:17) When Jesus called the first four disciples, who were fishermen, to follow him he said, “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” When Jesus began the process of calling his disciples to follow him, he started with men who had something in common.

– He built relationships (1:19) He brought together Matthew, a tax collector, and Simon the Zealot, a Jewish nationalist who despised the idea of paying taxes to Rome.

– He exercised control and authority as appropriate (1:23-25) “Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” When the demon made this statement, Jesus said sternly, “Be quiet and come out of him!”

– He engaged problems first-hand (1:30-31) “Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.”

– He empowered people (1:40-45) “And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.”

If you are a person in a position of authority treat your people with respect, with dignity, with care, and with familiarity. If you are a person in a position with a boss teat them with respect, with dignity, with care, and with familiarity.

Resolution Resolved?

It is already February 2019; how is that New Year’s resolution you made a month ago going? Remember it? You were excited about it and very determined to make it happen. So, a month in, how’s it going?

The gym is not quite as busy now as it was two weeks ago. The night stocker at the grocery store told me that he is back to his regular delivery schedule in the cookie aisle. The stack of cigarette boxes at the convenience store was pretty tall.

I do not make New Year resolutions; I also do not judge people who do—I have known those who make them and kept them and that is fantastic! But the reality is that for the most part resolutions are a wish-list, not a life-style change. U.S. News reports that 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions are dismissed by February and at the end of the year 92 percent are but a distant memory.

Instead of making a resolution once a year, I believe the best way to address issues in our lives we want to change is to make a goal, establish a plan and get a support network. We do not need to go for our goals alone. Family and friends are a great place to start for support. Depending on the goal, sometimes professionals are the ones we need to seek out: doctors, counselors, personal trainers, teachers, the point is there are many people out there well trained, educated, and experienced who are willing to help us achieve our goals.

But, and I am guilty of this, the One who is often not asked for guidance in our goals is God. He created us and desires to give the best for us and we often leave Him out of our plan. In Jeremiah 29:11 God says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This is not a “free pass” from trials and tribulations to fulfill the plans and goals. It is however, assurance that in God nothing is out of our reach and if our goals align with His plans they are blessed and provide a future of prosperity.

Whether you made a New Year’s resolution or not, whether you have kept it or not, maybe it is time to go to God and ask Him what plans He has for me.