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Facing Your Fear of Commitment

Mountain Lake

In more than 50 years of ministry, I’ve encountered many fears that threaten to derail what God wants to do through his followers. But there’s one fear that stands out among all the rest: the fear of commitment. 

It’s what keeps the men and women in your church from joining a small group, sharing their faith, and participating in a mission trip. For many pastors, it’s what keeps us from taking new ministry assignments that God is clearly calling us toward. 

But none of us can grow without making commitments and pushing past the excuses that hold us back. Every time you make a commitment, you grow. 

During the time I led Saddleback Church, I faced many moments when I was scared of taking the step I needed to. Even several decades into ministry, the fear of stepping into the unknown never completely vanishes.

I remember praying through decisions involving purchasing property or significant shifts in our church’s direction, feeling a weight that could easily crush any sense of certainty I had. But here’s the truth I’ve clung to: Being controlled by fear or by the fluctuating tides of our emotions is not an option. The call to do the right thing—to follow through on God’s guidance—doesn’t wait for fear to subside. That’s what courage is all about. 

Courage isn’t about the absence of fear. It’s about moving forward despite the fear. It’s about having faith in God’s guidance, even when you feel like doing the opposite. 

At Saddleback, we made it a practice not to let fear dictate our decisions. Instead, we learned to lean into the guidance of the Holy Spirit, allowing faith to navigate through the uncertainties. This principle of pressing forward, not in the absence of fear but in the middle of it, is crucial for any pastor or leader. 

You can see this principle in the life of Moses. When God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery in Exodus 3, Moses kept giving excuses. 

  • But what if I’m not important enough to get a hearing before Pharaoh?
  • But what if I’m not a good enough speaker?
  • But what if I don’t know what to say?
  • But what if they reject me?

These excuses should sound familiar. We’ve heard them before in our own churches. Notice the first word of each of them: but

But is a very versatile word. We can use it as a conjunction, a preposition, an adverb, and even a noun. We can use it to show contrast or to state an objection. Or, like Moses, we can use the word but to form a pathetic excuse.

What “but” has been in the way of what God wants to do through your life and the lives of those you lead?

If you’re still hanging on to an excuse for not doing what God is calling you to do, you need to take a long look at what the Bible says in Exodus 4:14—“The LORD’s anger burned against Moses” (CSB).

Pastor, God is long-suffering; he’s patient. But his patience will run out. When you make excuses for why you’re not doing what he is leading you to do, you’re testing his patience. You don’t want to do that.

Moses ended up stepping past his fear and following God’s call to lead his people out of bondage. It wasn’t easy. But Moses kept pushing past the excuses until the Israelites were free. 

A few years later, the Israelites had a similar choice before them. This time they chose wrong. When the Israelites came out of Egypt, they became comfortable with where they were. But God said, in effect, “I want you to move on. It’s time to go to the Promised Land.” 

The Israelites wouldn’t do it. Instead, they basically said, “But God, we like it here.” 

God said, “Fine. You all can die in the desert.” Of course, that’s exactly what happened. An entire generation died in the desert. 

Pastor, God will not force you to go into the Promised Land. 

God has so much more in store for your ministry than you could ever possibly imagine. But if you’re afraid to commit to what God wants to do through you, he will not force his best on you.

Are you ready to push past the excuses?

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