How to Identify Fear

We all want to take Jesus seriously when He says “be not afraid” but we may not be fully aware of what scares us. Here are 13 questions to help.

Fear and anxiety tend to be loud and dominating. They accompany your morning coffee and keep you awake at night. No matter where you are, they seem to find you. So there would seem to be no need to hunt for them.

But we avoid our fears. To linger on them makes matters worse, or so we think. Everyone has them and there is not much we can do. So why bother trying?


When we name our fears, we can bring them to Jesus.

The usual suspects are (a) fear of others, their critical opinions and the threats to our reputation, (b) fear of financial uncertainty, and (c) fear of death. Here are ways that these can exert themselves.

  • Do you have “stress” in your life?  Stress is often another word for a bundle of fears that we can’t identify at first.

  • Would anyone call you a type A personality, busy, or driven? What would happen if you slowed down? Fear is probably fueling the pace of your life.

  • Are you generous with your money? Do you tithe? Fear desires control, and money is one thing that we think we can control.

  • Are you always on a diet? Check to see if this is more a result of your fear of people’s opinions than about personal health.

  • Look at your anger—whether it is occasionally explosive or quiet impatience and coldness. Fear and anger share a common concern: something important to you is at risk. Look for fear in your anger.

  • To linger on our fears makes matters worse, or so we think.

  • Do you have any superstitions? These usually suggest that we are trying to get control of a world that feels out of control.

  • Are you a glass-half-empty “realist”? Are you always scanning the world for old and new threats? Your fears about the evening news might say more about you than about world events.

  • Have you experienced depression? Fear is so often a contributor. While anger is fear that still has some fight left, depression might be fear that is giving up.

  • Are you are a hovering, overprotective parent? Of course you want to protect the ones you love, but if you don’t identify your concerns as fears, you miss the opportunity to bring them to Jesus.

  • Do you show favorites? Do you flatter those who you think can enhance your reputation? In our fear, we try to manipulate to get what we think we need.

  • Are you critical of particular groups of people even though you don’t really know those people? Fear always looks for an enemy, whether real or not. It gives a small sense of control.

  • Do you avoid being alone with your thoughts? Fears become more apparent when there is less noise.

  • Do you cover up, lie, or hide? If so, do you live with low-level fear that wonders when you will be found out? Are you trying to hide your sins from God and other people? If so, your fears will come out as defensiveness, isolation, lies, and fear of death. Are you trying to hide your mistakes or failures from other people? Your fear that you could lose reputation, work, or money is right below the surface.

Let’s assume that looking more carefully would reveal our fears are everywhere. It is imperative we name them—this is how we grow. We name fears, we bring them to Jesus, and then we listen to how He speaks to us in Scripture about our fears.

Related Topics:  Fear

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