- Do you care more about what people think of you than how God views your sin?
- Are your actions motivated by what others will think?
- Does fear of shame or embarrassment guide what you say and do?
- Do you desire the good opinion of others?
- Do you avoid telling people the gospel because of what they will think of you?
Well perhaps you (like me!) tend to fear man more than you fear God. In this excellent book, Ed Welch shows that our self-esteem issues, competition, peer-pressure and dependence on others are all the same thing – a fear of man, where other people are the driving force behind our thoughts and actions.
Welch explores three themes in this book:
- We must determine how and why we fear others – it is a fear of shame or rejection or because we feel threatened. All of these are real drivers which explain our fear of man, but until we realise which factors guide us, we cannot respond to them properly.
- We must realise that God is bigger than people. The person who truly fears God will fear nothing else. We must grow in our knowledge and love of God.
- We must love people more, but need people less. Therefore people’s opinions and reactions to me will no longer guide me, for I live in the fear of the Lord. Yet in truly loving God I am free to and serve people more.
Through this process, Welch interacts with current counselling methods and critiques them. He particularly focuses on the risk of talking to people about their felt needs, such as their need to be loved and their need for healthy self-esteem. In the end it is all driven by a fear of man – to be loved, to be liked, to feel my needs met. Instead he says:
“The most basic question of human existence becomes “How can I bring glory to God?” – not “How will God meet my psychological longings?” These create very different tugs on our hearts: one constantly pulls us outward toward God, the others pulls us inward toward ourselves.” (p158)
When I reviewed Compared to Her earlier this year, I noted how helpful it was in identifying the issues of comparison among people (mainly women), yet in the comments I did agree that I wanted more detail on how to live in a more godly way with the temptations that comparison brings. I feel this book has given me more tools to do that, it is longer and more comprehensive.
I personally found this book quite challenging. I read it with certain issues of my own fear of man in mind and so when I purposely did some of the exercises at the end of the chapters, I found them helpful in making me work through things in detail where I fail in this area and how I could move forward.
As I can’t imagine anyone out there not struggling with these issues in some way, it is recommended reading for everyone!