Healthy Self
June 3, 2022

The Secret War Within: A Christian Man's Journey In Overcoming The Fear Of Failure

Brett Snodgrass & Michael Stansbury enlighten the path with their wisdom for Christian men to overcome the fear of failure that can cause us to sin.

The fear of failure is the greatest roadblock to our life’s journey. It can cause you to do things you don’t want to do that will make you sin. In this episode, Brett Snodgrass & Michael Stansbury enlighten the path for a Christian man to overcome the fear of failure. Brett and Michael share stories of how this fear of failure drives a man to sin. As we dive deeper into the conversation, we will capture the power of faith in today’s topic. So, sit back and tune in to this reflective episode. Find the light against the fear of failure with Brett Snodgrass & Michael Stansbury today.

The Secret War Within: A Christian Man's Journey In Overcoming The Fear Of Failure With Brett Snodgrass & Michael Stansbury

In this episode, I got my good buddy and co-host, Mr. Michael Stansbury with me. What's going on, Michael?

I’m living the dream. How are you?

I'm doing good. We had a conversation. Things are a little chaotic in the Snodgrass home with the kids running around. I got some sick kids. There’s also car breaking down, business cranking up, and doing some deals real estate-wise. We got a lot of moving pieces but God's good. He's still faithful. I'm excited to rock and roll with you on this particular episode as we dive into this topic of men. We're talking to men. That's what we love to talk to, especially Christian businessmen, faithful businessmen, and men who are having the struggle with the fear of failure.

We've talked about a book that I wrote. I'll put a quick plug in here. If you haven't gotten the book, The Secret War Within, we're talking about some topics that we talk about in this particular book. We're not going to dive into this particular book but with the main character, Nolan Banks, these are some of the things that he is facing. We're going to give some practical feedback, tips, biblical principles, and advice on these topics.

We're talking about men facing the fear of failure. What does that look like? What does that feel like? What do we do about it? I shot this topic over to you and said, “I want to talk about this topic because I'm facing this.” This fear of failure is something that I've been challenged and have been struggling with. I sought to you that this would be a good topic to talk about because a lot of men are facing this. What were your first thoughts on this topic in facing fear, maybe even your personal life?

As you mature through life or go through life, you overcome certain fears and then they creep back up again. You're wondering, “Why is this back again?” Sometimes, you don't even realize it came back until you go, “I have this mentality of being afraid that this is going to happen or this is going to ruin me.” I thought through all the times in my life when I was motivated by the fear of failure, not necessarily in a good way.

Honestly, fear, if we're thinking about it in the human mindset, can keep you up at night, cause you to do things that you don't want to do, and cause you to sin. There's a healthy fear that the Bible talks about and it's the fear of the Lord. That is a subject that you dive in and can never get enough of. You can never understand that perfectly.

There are the things that happen in your life with your business, family, and marriage. There is fear of failure within the context of those things. How do you deal with those? How do you overcome those fears? How do you recognize that that is something that is there? Don't ignore it but how do you overcome it? What does the Bible talk about ways to overcome it?

What are some stories in our culture and news that we can look at and say, “This person was motivated by fear of failure. Look at what happened?” How can we look at their lives and go, “That's the path I don't want to choose. How do I recognize when that's happening in my life?” That's what came to mind when you sent it over. Here we are talking about it. It's a great topic.

We're going to talk about a story that brought to my mind. This shows the results of the fear of failure. It's the story of Bernie Madoff. If you remember Bernie Madoff, he was a very successful man. He was a mastermind behind one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history. If you dive into this story, a lot of this stemmed from his fear of failure, which committed him to sin, lie, and deceit.

A quick story about Bernie Madoff if you haven't heard of Bernie, he was born in 1938. He started his Wall Street firm, Bernie Madoff Investment Securities, in 1960. Over the years, he established himself as a very respectable figure and respectful person in the finance industry. He even served as Chairman of the NASDAQ Stock Exchange. His reputation was impeccable. Everyone loved Bernie Madoff. He was trusted by individual investors, even celebrities, and charitable organizations.  He was a very respected person in this community and within the world.

This is where sometimes, this fear of failure, men don't talk about it. It's a secret fear of failure and a secret battle within. Behind the scenes, Bernie Madoff was having a different story. In his investment business, he was promising these investors consistent, unusual, high returns and it ended up being nothing but a Ponzi scheme. He was investing other clients' funds to pay out returns to other investors. You get the story. He was creating the illusion of genuine profits.

The story unfolds. Why did Bernie Madoff who was already successful by many standards lie and deceive people? What was his motivator behind that? If you dig in, his intense fear of failure was the motivation. He was trapped in this web of this scheme, the pressure to maintain this illusion of success, and this perception of the figure that he had created. Emitting failure would mean not only personal and professional ruin but also letting down thousands of investors and people. This is one of the biggest Ponzi schemes. There was an estimated loss of about $65 billion. He ended up getting sentenced to 150 years in prison. He died in 2021.

What a story. This was a man who was very successful, respected, and trusted but behind the scenes had this immense fear of failure. What can this drive men to do? That's an amazing story. Michael, I want to bounce it off of you. You hear stories like that. That's one story. There have been countless stories of people in the news and things like that. In our personal life, we've seen stories like this as well. What's your take on some of the results of what the fear of failure to the extreme can move guys to do?

One of the things that I always like to think that puts me in check is for the grace of God, I could be Bernie Madoff. I could do those things that Bernie did. I have done those things that Bernie Madoff did in a microcosm way. Let me explain. Bernie had to market himself. He had to get other people to put money into the scheme. He had to lie about the trappings of success about the returns on the investment.

He got other people who had gotten the returns and they weren't really returns. They were other people's money they were investing in to go out there and talk about him. They weren't lying about their returns. They were getting the returns but they didn't know the system or his Ponzi scheme. They didn't know what was going on. I think about me as an entrepreneur or a business person.

For the longest time, the allure of success made me want to be around people, try to elevate myself higher than I was or make myself seem like I was something that I was not. Maybe the business was running poorly but I wasn't vulnerable enough. I wasn't somebody that maybe reached out to maybe a mentor or a business person that knew what they were doing. I kept doing the same thing. I could see myself going down a similar path if I didn't check myself or if I didn't have somebody in my life that I could go to and say, “All that stuff you see on social media is not true. I'm struggling here.”

Bernie had such a sense of failure that most of the people closest to him didn't know about it. One of the things that we have to do for this fear of failure is to keep the main thing, which is to repent of it. When it comes up and if it's not a healthy thing and it's a sinful thing, the one thing that we need to do is repent of it and go to God with it. It's tough with guys because guys aren't usually vulnerable with each other. Sometimes, we don't have that trusted friend or mentor.

We don’t have maybe an elder at church that runs a business that we can go, commiserate with, and say, “This is what I'm struggling with.” That would be something that if I was going down that path, I would hope that I would have access to it. I have access to it but for those guys that maybe you see a little bit of Bernie in you because we all got a little bit of it, those are some things that I would think through. The first is, “Let's go to God with it and give it to him.” If you're going to make a mess of it, he's going to clean it up.

It goes to show we all have that in us. At first, it starts small. Not to the extent of Bernie but I've even seen a lot of guys get in trouble in the real estate business. I see certain things coming and I'm like, “Certain things seem off.” Eventually, twelve months later or a couple of years later, things blow up. Maybe bankruptcy is involved. I saw them start to take money from Peter to pay Paul. They're trying to figure it out. It starts small but ends up as this explosion.

I heard a metaphor that it's like a kid in a swimming pool sitting on a beach ball, a soccer ball, or something like that. It's under the water. You can't even see what it is but when it blows up, it shoots out of the water. That was a great metaphor for guys that keep things in. They don't pray about it, talk to God about it, lean on Him about it, or talk to other guys about it. They keep it a secret.

There's a quote that I wanted to mention from Henry David Thoreau. He wrote a book called Walden in 1854. He said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” I want to reflect that most men have certain challenges, struggles, or fears that they never talk about. They never let it out. They live in this quiet secret desperation, which I'm like, “That’s no way to live. That's not what God's calling us to live. He's calling us to live with a purpose with our fullness, talents, and gifts.” It's so hard to use those when you're living in this fearful, quiet desperation. Michael, I'll knock that off you. What do you think?

It's a subtle thing too. Sometimes, it starts small and then it becomes something bigger. You don't think you can handle it. I honestly think that within the church, the best way to handle this for guys is to drop our pride but it is very hard to do if you don't have that in the context of other guys and other people who can mentor you.

Scripture is sufficient. God is sufficient but you do need other people. God puts other men in your lives. He does this consistently with me. If I drop my pride and the fact that I know everything, it's hard. Humility is the root word for humiliation. It's sometimes hard to tell your son, “I don't know that much about this subject.” Your kids look at you like you know everything and you don't. When they realize that, they’re like, “He’s as dumb as I am,” which is not true.

What I try to do not perfectly is whenever I come up with something that is a struggle, I better have other people in my life that I can go to and go with this. I go to my wife for some things. Something that is business related or if there's a big challenge that has the potential to be a terrible thing, I don't want that fear to stay with me. I got to get it out somehow so I've got to work it out through scripture, meditation on the word, and prayer.

Also, talk to people. Find somebody. I've got guys like you and guys in the Iron Deep team. I've got elders and men at church who will be more than happy to sit down and talk through some things. Those are some guys that are wiser than us. You'll hope people that are going through some things like that would have access to it and then humiliate themselves and say, “This is what's going on,” before it gets to the point where it is like, “I got to go to jail.”

I had a buddy of mine. He’s a good friend. He was working in the pharmaceutical industry. He was working for his boss and his boss gave him a bunch of paperwork to sign. He said, “Put this signature on here.” My friend was like, “That's not my signature. That is the doctor's signature.” What they were doing was they were defrauding Medicare and getting these prescriptions out. My friend knew that this was going on but the boss told him to do it so he did it. He didn't think much of it.

Six months later, the FBI comes and says, “Is this your signature or the doctor's signature?” They knocked on his door one day and said, “We have to talk.” He had no idea this was coming. His first inclination was to go, “That's not mine.” This was on a Friday. Over the weekend, he took his time and thought about it. It wrecked him. He goes, “That was not right. I only signed that but I lied so I need to call them back.” He called them back and said, “Here's everything that was done.” It caused him to go to jail.

He had a fear of, “I don’t want to disappoint my boss but this is not right,” and then he had this fear of, “I don't want to get caught. I'm already caught. I got to figure out what to do here.” Our justice system chewed him up for that one thing. At one moment in time, he chose to lean into the fear of, “I have to do this,” instead of figuring out, “What should I be doing here?” There are countless stories of that.

To piggyback off that a little bit, I've been reading this book by Andy Stanley. I went to this place called DADCAMP, which I highly recommend. They gave us this book called Parenting: Getting It Right. It’s a very good book. I recommend it to anyone who is a parent. He had two rules in his house. One of the rules was the worst thing you can do is tell a lie. He tried to pound that into his kids, “The worst thing you can do is tell a lie. You always honor trust.”

I would want to piggyback on that because this fear of failure can lead us to sin, lie, and deceive people in our workplace, our family, and ourselves. Your friend sat back over the weekend. It sounded like he had time to be still and reflect on what was right. A lot of times, our impulsive reaction is to lie and not to get in trouble.

Our response to, “Did you do that,” is, “I didn't do that. That's not me. That wasn't my signature.” Ask your kids, “Did you pull your sister's hair?” They’d be like, “I didn't do it. It was my brother.” Our immediate response is to lie because our human hearts want to get out of trouble. They're sinful and wicked. If the flesh comes out, it is like, “I'm going to do whatever it takes to get out of the situation and lie.” If we can sit back, reflect, and spend time with the Lord, that's a huge part of it.

IDP 26 | Fear Of Failure

When I am in that rhythm of spending time with the Lord and I'm not cramming, busy, distracted, and trying to push my way through life, cram as much stuff in it, and be distracted, if I'm not like that and I am spending time with the Lord and reading him say, “Do not fear,” over and over again and, “Have faith in me. Lay your burdens down upon me. I will give you rest,” and I'm reading all of the scriptures that tell me that, then I don't fear. I have faith.

When I think about faith, it's the opposite of fear. One of the things that I've struggled with was in 2023 if you heard my story a little bit. I've mentioned it on the show. In 2022, we were in the Rocky Mountains. We were worshiping the Lord at an Iron Deep event. It was awesome. I was sitting in the owner's box of my real estate organization. People had been running it. I was comfortable. Money was coming in. I was doing my passion. It was awesome.

Three months later, we had some transitions within our company. Our CEO took another opportunity, which is awesome for him. His wife also worked with us and there was a transition there. The real estate market was starting to crunch and crumble. I was fearful and losing sleep. I was waking up and having some panic. Nothing was crazy wrong but I was worried that it could go wrong. I was fearful that it could go wrong.

A guy asked me, “How can I pray for you?” My response was, “If you could increase my faith.” I know that if I can increase my faith and spend time with the Lord and He can increase my faith, then my fear will diminish. It's that teeter-totter. When your faith increases, your fear diminishes. That was a story of mine.

I love that. That's where we hit the high hat on that one. When you're in scripture and you know God's truth, it says, “Do not fear.” The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom so what does that mean? It is like, “How do I become wise?” Fear the right thing. You have a stack of dominoes and they start all falling. You're looking at it and you're like, “If this person leaves, the market's tanking.” It’s all this stuff. The mind does what the mind does. The mind is wired to have a scarcity mindset. That's hardwired in us.

As you probably saw those dominoes falling, you had whispers of, “Here's the extra scripture. Here's the scripture,” but you still need what you said. You’re like, “I need people praying for me because I'm watching this in real-time. I'm having fear even though I know these things to be true and I know scripture to be true.”

This is where the real work begins for us. What do we do? Develop great habits of prayer and time with the Lord. Seek people out that have those habits and that time with the Lord. Seek wisdom from those people. If we seek wisdom from the world and we're googling stuff, what do we expect? I'm amazed at how sometimes, I google things that I should call somebody up that I know who knows the answer to that rather than rely on artificial intelligence or Google for the answer. I'm amazed that I still do that.

You're not alone. You hit the nail on the head. If you get anything from this episode, it is to be radically honest with yourself. A big question to ask yourself is what is driving you? Many times, when I think, “Do I want to be successful or recognized,” a lot of times, it's not that the driver is the recognition or even the success. It's more of I don't want to fail and let people down. It could even be my family. I don't want to be a loser. I don't want people to see me crumble. It could be all that.

If the fear of failure is driving you, it is developing those habits. Don't be overwhelmed. What's one habit that you can do? Start small which you can do on a daily basis. Most of the time, it's in the morning. What are you starting your day out with? Are you starting your day with the Fox News app or Facebook and seeing what other people are doing or are you starting your day with your time in the stillness of the Lord, reading through scripture, learning about wisdom, and learning about what He says versus what the world says?

See how that goes. Read Proverbs once a day, the New Testament, or whatever it is. Do a devotional. Try it for 30 days. I would encourage you to see where you're at 30 days from developing those habits. See where your fear's at of failure. Thanks for that advice, Michael. I appreciate it. Is there anything else? Do you have any final thoughts for men who are being gripped with the heaviness, especially from what I've seen from other men in their businesses or personal lives of this fear of failure?

The biggest thing is to seek the Lord and other men. The best thing that you can do if you're being overwhelmed is to be alone, go in a closet, and pour yourself out to God. We don't do enough of that. He's there. He's tenderhearted and so kind. He always answers those who come to Him. In His scripture, it says, “Knock and I will answer,” and He does.

IDP 26 | Fear Of Failure

If the fear of all these things is overwhelming you, sometimes you have to step outside of your space and go into another space. Go into a closet. Go for a long walk and talk to Him. Don't bring your phone or anything that distracts you. I find that one of the things that distracts me is this little thing. Everybody has it. This is how humanoid I am. If I bring that thing to church and that buzzes in the back of my pocket, I'm going to reach down and almost check it or check it. My advice would be to unplug. It could take you 10 minutes or 24 hours but go take the time to seek the Lord if the fear is overwhelming.

I'll end with this. You said about finding that place. I was with the Men's Round Table. What is that place that you can go to spend time with the Lord? What is your secret place? The Bible talks about not doing it in front of everyone like the Pharisees do but going to that secret place to spend time and have that conversation with Him. We're talking about the secret war within. Sometimes we have these secrets that we're dealing with but also, where's your secret place with the Lord?

One of mine is I used to go out on the lake, honestly. I had a boat. One of the big reasons why I had a boat was not for all the thrills. It was more of that was one of the places where I could go spend time with the Lord and read the Bible. If that's not you, maybe there's a room in your home, on a long walk, or wherever it is. Find a place that you can go to that is familiar to the Lord so every time you go there, you’re in the presence of the Lord. That’s your and His space.

Michael, thank you so much for being on the show as a co-host with me. I always appreciate it. We were talking about the fear of failure. If this is something that you're reading and you're like, “I'm so resonating with this,” I encourage you. This is something why we wrote the book, The Secret War Within.

It's also Iron Deep. If you're interested in what Iron Deep is doing, I would appreciate it if you went to the Iron Deep website. We are a group of men. We're pretty new. We're getting started. We're having some regional events. We do some Men's Awakening Retreats. More things are coming. This is what we're all about, getting business guys together in a setting that's unplugged so that we can be with God and each other and build that deeper relationship. Thank you guys so much. This is a wrap on the episode. We'll see you guys soon.

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