Fear…and Popcorn

By Cathy Spangler

“God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).

Fear is a pretty built-in thing.  We teach our kids to “fear” a hot stove or traffic.  Fear protects us from danger sometimes; in other words, it’s quite often healthy to be afraid.

So why does the Bible say, “Fear not” a jillion times?

Moments ago, I let my horse, Popcorn, out to pasture.  When I opened the gate, he looked at me like I was threatening him.  He snorted and backed up.  I realized then that my jacket was flopping in the wind and it was scaring him.  None of the other horses even noticed my jacket…they were just excited at the freedom of getting out.  After I softly encouraged him, my horse finally got the nerve to pass me and gallop away as fast as he could.

Popcorn is a 21-year old quarter horse gelding that I bought about 6 years ago.  He had “trust” issues when I first started riding him; he was always scared of something.  Once when my husband and I were on a trail ride, an automatic sprinkler came on near us – the kind that goes back and forth.  Popcorn was terrified and spun in a circle because I would not let him run away.  He tripped, fell, and pinned my leg under him.

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After an overnight hospital stay, I recovered.  But I realized that now I also had a problem with fear.  When I rode Popcorn and he got scared, I became scared, too.  A year later, Popcorn got spooked and fell down with me again!  I wasn’t hurt this time, but fear was something I had to master to even get on him. 

When I brought this whole issue to the LORD, He pointed out that my fear was not just relegated to riding Popcorn.  In fact, my fear was keeping Him from using me in different areas of my life.

I’m afraid to drive in cities.

I’m afraid I won’t be liked or effective.

I’m afraid to get up in front of people.

I’m afraid of conflict or confrontation.

It seemed like God was saying, “I tell you to ‘fear not’ because fear comes between us.  Your fear needs to be replaced by trust quickly or this spirit of fear will get a foothold.  It is robbing you of your power, your love, and your sound mind!  Get rid of your fear by stirring up your faith!”

Because of his continued fear, I can no longer ride Popcorn.  It is so disappointing!  That horse is a beautiful, sweet, little guy that I cannot use at all.  May it never be said of me that God loves me, but He can’t use me because of my overwhelming fear.  No – I’m repenting and renouncing my fears.  I am replacing fear with faith, and saying to myself every day, “I DO NOT HAVE a spirit of fear, but of POWER, LOVE and a SOUND MIND!”   

How about you?

Leading Difficult People

By Dan Reiland

It’s probably true that the most difficult person I lead is me. 

That might be true about you too. 

But beyond that reality, there are those who seem to be genuinely unaware of the negative impact they have on others around them. And there are a few who appear to get a strange sense of satisfaction from creating problems and getting reactions from people. 

These difficult people might be a volunteer leader, a coworker, a staff member, even a family member. It can be almost anyone you are responsible for leading.

When you allow difficult people to “get away with it,” any environment can become toxic. 

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So how can we better lead difficult people and survive to tell the stories?

Let’s start with what doesn’t work.

5 common responses to difficult people that do not work:

  1. Avoid the person and the situation.
  2. Give in and surrender. Give them what they want, let them have their way.
  3. Allow the behavior to continue. You don’t give them what they want, but you allow the person to continue with negativity, gossip, etc.
  4. Pass the responsibility to deal with the person to someone else to handle the situation.
  5. Power up and conquer.

Scripture gives us insight to a better way:

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

The context in this chapter starting with verse 9 is loving people. Verse 17 says “don’t repay evil for evil,” and vs. 19 says “don’t take revenge.” 

The passage provides in principle, the practical insight we need to deal with difficult people according to God’s heart.

It tells us how we should see people. Especially when you read verse 17, “be careful to do the right thing.”

Here’s a great practical summary:

  • • I am responsible for how I treat others.
  • • I may not be responsible for how they treat me.
  • • I am responsible for how I react to those who are difficult.

Set your heart first:

A) Difficult isn’t a disease.
Don’t run from difficult people you need to lead. It’s natural to recoil from difficult people, but it doesn’t help.

While it may be counter-intuitive to move toward difficult people, it’s important to accept that it’s part of your responsibility as a leader. 

It’s easy to love your friends and followers, but the real test of your leadership is how you influence those who test you. 

B) Forgive and let it go.
One of the most disheartening situations in ministry are leaders who become hurt, bitter and live with regret. 

This may primarily relate to the more extreme situations, but it still happens all too often. Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it’s always the best path.

This article will continue in the next post.