When the fog inside my head becomes so thick I walk in to walls everywhere I turn, I stop, sit down, and quietly try to listen to whatever it is that is bugging me. Give the fog time to coalesce into beads of thought – concern over a project I’m working on, or perhaps problems with a co-worker, or a close friend. But don’t grasp that first thing that pops up and think that’s the problem. Take time. Pray. Invite the Spirit to go deeper in revealing to you what is going on inside.
Fear is normal in our line of work. From Moses to Joshua to Gideon to Jeremiah to Peter – they all asked God for “an out” to get someone else. Ask any business leader. Lee Iacocca shares, The good news about fear is that we have plenty of company. We all fear failing. Before taking a risk or tackling a challenging situation, everyone is afraid. Nobody lives without fear. In fact, if you tell me you have no fears, I will assume one of two things: Either you are playing it much too safe and not taking any risks, or you are totally out of touch with your feelings.
But Barry’s problem wasn’t fear. Fear is often the smoke that creates the fog, but fire is often something even deeper. That something deeper, as was true for Barry, is SELF-doubt.
There are no shortage of unknowns, tradeoffs and risks in B4T. You pray, study the key factors, and then you make the best call, trusting God for the results. If it works, you keep doing it. If not, you recalibrate; pray more, research more, and seek Him for a different plan. But when it’s your own business, when you’re committed to doing something you’ve never done before – challenging your own comfort zone and taking risks with your family’s money and the one and only reputation you worked decades to build – there at times can be SELF-doubt.
How did I advise Barry to deal with his own SELF-doubt?
The worst thing you can do is give in to the powerful urge to distract yourself. Don’t pick up your phone, write an email, or read todays sports news. SELF-doubt is important. It’s not something you want to sweep under the rug. You want to pay attention to it and discern what God is teaching you through it. This leads to three questions.
1. Am I on track?
We do everything for a reason. We moved overseas for a reason – to glorify God. Notice the emphasis in SELF-doubt. Have my spiritual reasons become worldly reasons? Have I gotten off the path He put me on? Our goals should be aligned with the vision He gave us. If those goals drive us to challenge the status quo or risk failure – that’s fine, IF (and that’s a big if) they are His goals and if the task is something you know you have to do to fulfill His assignment for you, then that’s one aspect of doubt you can put to rest. If not, you probably have some more praying and thinking to do.
2. Am I capable?
Only you know if you’re capable of accomplishing what God has given you to do. If you believe you are, then you should be reasonably confident God will work the situation for good. Some doubt is normal. If you do not believe you are capable, but you know this is God’s assignment for you, then get connected with coaches and friends who can help you in His work. Too often apostles and entrepreneurs have an “I can do it all” attitude that robs God of His glory and hinders the work of the body. God often gives us tasks for the purpose of engaging His wider body. He is not looking for Lone Rangers. And if you doubt that, read the biography of any successful entrepreneur, or revisit the lives of Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Jeremiah or Peter. Who has God got waiting in the wings who can work with you in fulfilling His assignment?
3. What’s the worst that can happen?
Usually when this is put in financial terms or terms of my own reputation it is clear that the SELF-doubt comes from SELF being on the throne. If God is on the throne – meaning He’s led me into this assignment – then the outcome, whatever it is will bring Him glory. There have been times I felt he led me into projects that failed. But what I’ve learned that even failure in the world’s eyes and my eyes, can bring Him glory. And the lessons He taught me through those failures was part of His equipping me for bigger future tasks. We are not alone in such experiences.
The insights you will gain by answering these questions will help determine if you’re on the right path or perhaps need pivot or change direction. Be honest with God, be honest with yourself. Deal with it head-on, there’s nothing to fear from self-doubt. It actually may be God’s way of rekindling His fire within you and keeping you on His right track.
PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.