The Secret Fear That Holds Pastors Back From Making Our Greatest Impact

Jan 16, 2020

OK, I'm embarrassed to admit this...but I've let something hold me back for far too long, and it's kept me from pursuing one of my biggest dreams.

A dream I believe God gave me.

And that other trusted friends had affirmed and confirmed for me.

Yeah, even with that kind of clarity and affirmation from God and others...I second-guessed my big dream, and felt paralyzed from taking the action I knew I was supposed to take.

So, what was it that held me back? And how did I finally decide to kick it's King James Version word for a donkey?

My Dream

You see, for years I’ve had a dream of launching a blog and podcast to help pastors “at a crossroads.” Pastors who are at a point of decision and change in their lives. Pastors who...

  • Desperately know something has to change. They’re tired of running on the ministry hamster wheel and sacrificing their personal health or family life for ministry.
  • Can't make ends meet on their church salary, so they need to earn extra income through a business or side hustle - but they’re not sure what kind of business is right for them.
  • Have always dreamed of launching a side hustle, business, or separate ministry, but aren't sure if now’s the right time, or even how to get started.
  • Feel like it’s time to make a move to another position within their church, like from youth pastor to lead pastor, move to another church, or move into a different type of ministry role - like a chaplaincy.
  • Question whether vocational ministry is right for them any more. Maybe it’s time to move into a totally different career field? But how do they know for sure?

Maybe it's a pastor just like you…with whatever it is that you’re dreaming or wondering about.

This passion came out of my own observations, struggles, and frustrations from 20+ years in ministry, and conversations with dozens of pastors from churches of all shapes and sizes.

What I’ve found, and you probably have too, is...

There are hundreds of books, blogs, podcasts, and conferences out there to help pastors preach better sermons, improve as a leader, grow your church, and reach more people. 

But where can pastors turn for help with the “personal side” of our lives? Where can we find a safe person who totally gets where we’re coming from as a pastor? Someone we can trust to share our biggest frustrations dreams with? And who can help us sort out those frustrations, and pursue and achieve those dreams?

As a pastor with a strong bent toward entrepreneurship, I didn’t always know how to reconcile my entrepreneurial dreams with full-time vocational ministry.

And sometimes, I had supervisors who didn’t know what to do with me and those dreams, or understand how pursuing them could actually help me be a better pastor.

Early-on in my ministry, I wish I could have found a...

  • Safe person to talk with about the struggles of balancing ministry and personal life…
  • Trusted guide who would help me navigate my entrepreneurial “crossroads” moments better, instead of feeling guilty for pursuing entrepreneurial ideas...
  • Curator who could share helpful tools and resources to help me grow as a person and develop more of my potential…

My Mission

Well, since I couldn’t find that person, I’ve made it my mission to become that person. And help other pastors clarify their dreams and create more freedom and fulfillment in their life and work.

The problem was...Despite having a clear dream, a sense of calling by God, and affirmation by others...I still questioned it. Held back. Dabbled. Started. Then stalled.


It's a question I keep asking myself, over and over and...It would be easy for me to blame a lack of time. Because I have travel internationally 60+ days a year. Or blame a lack of focus. Because I know I let other things take priority over my dream.

These things are factors for sure...but they're not the real reason I didn't succeed. I think the real reason...the biggest thing that held me back...was...

My Fear

Yeah, fear. The fear of not being "expert enough" because I don't have all the answers. The fear that no one would really want to listen to anything I had to say. The fear that I'd fail...and that others would see me as a failure.

And surprisingly, I think my greatest fear of all was this...

The fear that I actually WOULD succeed!

To be honest, I hadn't ever considered that the fear of success could be holding me back. Until I read a fascinating book by Gay Hendricks called, The Big Leap.

In it, Hendricks explains how many of us subconsciously give up on pursuing our goals and dreams, and end up missing out on making our biggest impact in the world, due to something he calls...The Upper Limit Problem

Hendricks describes it this way:

"Each of us has an inner thermostat setting that determines how much love, success, and creativity we allow ourselves to enjoy. That thermostat setting usually gets programmed in early childhood. And, once programmed, our Upper-Limit thermostat setting holds us back from enjoying all the love, financial abundance and creativity that's rightfully ours."

In other words, we subconsciously believe we’re not worthy of pursuing the dream we feel we were made for, or achieving the kind of success we are capable of achieving. We're programmed to play it safe, and not take the big leap into our greatest calling and purpose in life - something Hendricks calls our "zone of genius."

So we place an upper limit, or lid, on how much we'll achieve, how successful we will be, how much money we should earn, etc.

And when we get close to that limit, we hold ourselves back so we don't exceed it, thereby sabotaging our chance at success in achieving the very thing we've wanted all along.

I think that's exactly what I've been doing - letting the fear of success keep me from succeeding - and why I haven't launched by blog until now. 

My Strategies for Success

Is the fear of success keeping you from achieving your dreams too? 

If so, how can we let go of our fears and reprogram ourselves to succeed in pursuing and achieving our biggest goals and dreams?

Here are some success strategies I'm working on in my own life right now - maybe they can help you too...

  1. Ask yourself, "Why am I afraid of success?" And "Where are these limiting thoughts coming from?" For me, it's been super helpful to process these thoughts and feelings in my journal. 
  2. Focus on the thing you want to be true (your goal or dream), and remind yourself of your "Why" -- why do you want it and why would God want that for you? Because these will give us clarity and keep our goal in front of us.
  3. Replace the limiting thoughts with positive affirmations that speak to what we want, and create in your mind's eye a vision of successfully achieving your goal or dream. Because our mind is a powerful tool that can be programmed for our success.
  4. Just take the next step...the next thing you know you need to do right now. Because nothing happens until something moves...until we take action.

Have you felt the fear of success, or faced the upper limit problem in your own life? What's the big dream or goal you'd pursue if you could overcome these obstacles in your life?

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