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Fear of Failure

Reading: Hebrews 10:1-25

1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’ ”

8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:

16 “This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”

17 Then he adds:

“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.”

18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Introduction: David Warner tries to rebuild

I wonder if you caught the news in recent weeks of Australian cricketer David holding a women’s coaching clinic in the Northern Terority?1

The panel on Gruen discussed the publicity with mixed reactions. After the ball-tampering incident in South Africa and the 1 year ban most seemed to think he needed some ‘image control’. He needed to work hard to restore his personal ‘brand’ in the eyes of the public. One panel member thought he would be best getting on with playing lower level cricket and demonstrating integrity and skill on the field rather than P.R. stunts in the media.

But it does raise the question, how does an individual respond to personal failure?

Responses to personal failure

Last week, I mentioned the idea of each of us having our own personal ‘brand’. I wonder how your sense of who you are and who you want to be is impacted by what you see as your own failures?

I think we tend to move in one of two directions:

  1. “I can beat this!” Whenever we see something as a possible failure—something that might tarnish our image. We go into win/lose mode. We may be driven by a deep desire for success and a fear of failure but we’re barely conscious of it all. It’s so terrifying we’ve buried it deep inside. OR
  2. “I’m such a failure!” When we see a potential failure we’re our own worst critic. We see things as right/wrong and have a tendency to be crushed by our own inadequacy. We have the same desire for success and fear of failure but it’s expressed differently. We’re acutely aware of it.

Does one of those resonate with you?

Let me develop them a bit further.

“I can beat this” unpacked

The “I can beat this” person is typically self-confident. They throw themselves at risks. “I’m competent. I can handle anything.”

It can go with impatience, a short-temper and the sense that we can do things better than others. We don’t have much time for people who make mistakes (“We wouldn’t have done that”).

We tend to dominate others. We talk more than we listen. When we listen we don’t listen carefully. We assume we already know what someone’s saying. We have something to say about everything. It’s hard to accept ignorance. We jump into conversation about something we don’t really know much about.

A person in this mould can be described as not resolving conflict, but winning conflict. Our desire is to come out on top. We need to win arguments. So we cut others down. We lack sensitivity.

Life is like a leaderboard. Success is all about being on top. You’re always comparing yourself to others. Average is never good enough. We need to be competent, at the top of our game.

So criticism is a threat. We need to rise to the occasion and smash it down.

Much of this is happening at the subconcious level so we may not see it all.

In it’s more extreme form I think of a high school principal labelled as a ‘corporate psychopath’. He was known for his compulsive lies to cover his tracks and protect his image at all costs. But he was completely blind to the fact he was lying.

The self-deception of this approach is scary.

Buried deep within is a fear of failure that operates pretty close to the core of one’s being. But we’re largely unaware of it.

We’re still living to prove ourselves though we look cool, calm and collected on the outside.

It’s threatening to look at ourselves too much so we keep busy. We want to drown out any gnawing thoughts of inadequacy and worthlessness.

“I’m such a failure” unpacked

On the other hand, if we’re prone to thinking, “I’m such a failure” we tend to be risk adverse. We’re less likely to try something new.

We tend to be obsessive and preoccupied about our performance in whatever we put our hand to. It’s driven by a negative goal: “How will this reflect on me?” Perhaps we fear what others think of us (fear of man) or perhaps we don’t measure up to our own standards.

When we come face to face with our own failure we practice penance or self-punishment. We have our own unacheivably high standards.

Typically our inner self-critic has been shaped in responses to shame. We’ve been treated badly by others. Perhaps we’ve been the target of our parent’s anger or criticism. Or others have treated us as an object more than a human being.

If others start at with a neutral self-assessment (0) or positive (+5) we tend to start with a negative self-assessment (-5). Life is exhausting as we’re endlessly working to get ourselves into the positive.

We tend to be sensitive to the impact of our sin on others. We fear how our sin impacts on anyone close to us. “How will I cope if I screw up my children? If cause my best friend deep hurt?”

What’s common to both responses?

What’s common across both responses to failure?

Both have this element of comparison whether it’s having to be at the top of the leaderboard or this gnawing sense that our resume is substandard. We’re either winning and at the top. Or we’re acutely aware of all the people around us who do things better than us. We imagine people have it more together than us. They’re more capable at work, better parents, better at keeping up friendships.

Both tie worth and identity to what we do. One appears more confident in self assessment because of perceived competence. The other seems to lack self-confidence because it’s sensitive to failure and weakness.

Ultimately both are rooted in a trust in ourselves. What we define success and failure as may be different. But this is what motivates us.

And I think both are an attempt at self-covering. We feel the same shame of Adam and Eve before a holy God. Sin leaves us with a shame that haunts us.

Some of us have to deal with the way others have shamed us too.

If only we could be successful we could cover our deep sense of worthlessness. Our sense that we could never amount to anything.

So we fear failure.

What’s at stake if we don’t address our fear of failure?

What’s at stake if we don’t address our fear of failure?

  • God will be small.
  • The most powerful anditode to the fear of failure is the fear of Lord. God must be bigger to us than our failures are.2

  • We’ll struggle to love others.
  • Our problem is that we use people for our success more than we love them for the glory of God. God calls us to use others less and love them more.3

    If you and continue to be crippled by a fear of people we’ll be limited in our ability to see God’s greatness and to love others well.

    We have a message and a hope that is robust enough to face our failure head on. There is an alternative story to live by.

    When we face our failures we model an attractive and winsome life to others. Our culture is hungry for authenticity. People are tired of pretending we have it all together. They want something real. And that’s where God wants to take us.

    Let me illustrate by an example in another culture. A missionary tells the story of travelling rough terrain on a motorbike. Muddy were slippery with deep corrugations. But it was made harder by local kids throwing rocks at him.

    One day a large rock came down. It narrowly missed his head. It could have done serious damage.

    Angry and fed up this missionary parked the bike deciding it was time to confront them. When he reached the village kids had scattered. He picked up a bush-knife lying around. In his anger he bashed it into a timber rail.

    Later he was taken to a local court over his display of anger. His trust in the finished work of Jesus was such that he could take full responsibility for what he done. It became quite a talking point in the village. It’s a culture where covering up sin and failure is rife. And it drew attention to the outworking of the Christian message.

    It’s the content of that message that lets us face failure that we’re going to turn to now in Hebrews 10.

    1. Jesus has perfected us; He’s our covering

    This section is towards the conclusion of what the writer to the Hebrews has been saying. The Hebrews readers were facing the temptation of turning back to follow the Old Testament law with its sacrifices. But the writer’s been at pains to show them there is nothing to go back to.

    We’ll spend most of our time in verse 11-14 and verse 19-25.

    Let’s re-read verse 11-14:

    11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

    Under the Old Testament pattern of sacrifices every priest would stand up and do his religious duties every day. Notice how much repetition there is. ‘Day after day’, ‘again and again’, ‘the same sacrifices’.

    What for? Their sacrifices were unable to take away sins. They were useless for actually making people right with God.

    Contrast that with ‘this priest’ (Jesus) who offered this once ‘for all time’ sacrifice of sins. It’s speaking about his body. Jesus is both priest and the sacrifice.

    What does he do afterwards? ‘He sat down at the right hand of God’ (v12). The priests who came before stood and day after day did the same things. Not so with Jesus. His sacrificial work is done, finished. He’s now ruling. He’s God’s right hand man. He’s looking forward to the time all his enemies submit to him.

    Verse 14 is key to understanding Jesus’ work. He’s finished this work because his one sacrifice of himself has made his people perfect forever. The same people who are now being made holy.

    Isn’t this an obscure passage? Why are we looking at it to speak to our fear of failure?

    Let’s think about the impact of v14 for it’s original readers and then for us.

    Those being written to were likely a small local gathering of God’s people.4 Possibly a house church in a city. Christians with a background as Jews.

    They were in danger of turning their back on the Christian message. Life following Jesus seemed too hard. It brought persecution. Some had been imprisoned and had property taken away. Some were becoming apathetic. Some were spiritually lethargic. They’re worn out.

    Perhaps turning back to life as a practicing Jew would be better.

    But the writer is screaming, “No! Stick with Jesus. To turn away from him is to bring yourself to utter destruction.”

    There’s a lot at stake for the whole community. So the writer has been preparing them for living faithfully for Jesus. He’s writing to strengthen them to endure suffering with courage. He highlights their privilege in Jesus.

    To them Jesus’ once for all sacrifice showed them there was no other message to turn to. Jesus has made them perfect forever. They have approval with God that can be found nowhere else.

    This is our first point: Jesus has made us perfect; He’s our covering.

    Yes, they are facing weighty troubles. But God is shaping their character in the midst of it all. Their final goal is Christlike character already a reality by his sacrifice of his own life.

    “Life was a lot easier as a Jew. No persecution from Rome. I knew what to do. Keep the rules. Attend synagogue. Besides don’t the temple sacrifices bring forgiveness?”

    The temptation was to return to a story they used to live by. A story that made them feel safe, comfortable, competent.

    It’s the same temptation for us—just a different story. We have all have stories we’ve lived by before trusting in Christ. Something that has been our attempt at success. Something that was built on trust in self. Another way of covering ourselves.

    This raises some questions for us:5

    1. What good things were we trusting in before we knew Jesus?
    2. Where did we rest for personal reputation?
    3. Was there any accomplishment or personal characteristic in which we took special pride?

    It’s these thing that make up our personal brands. They’re key to our story before we met Jesus. They’re our attempts at self-covering.

    It’s worth identifying them as they’re probably ‘props to our identity’ that still linger. ‘They were ways that we were (and still are) looking for … [right standing] in ourselves.’6

    To the extent that we still live for success in these areas is the extent to which we fear failure.

    If my trust was in securing other’s opinions of me, convincing them of my ability to be, do and say all the right things of me, then I’m likely to fear opinions coming under threat. As I get up and here and speak I’m not just aiming for excellence. My personal worth is at stake. You criticise me and my strategy for worth and success is at stake.

    If I’ve based my self-worth in being at the top of my game in the strength areas I’ve defined this is where my win/lose pattern comes out most strongly. I might have rarely put my finger on a fear of failure. But if someone threatens my competence at work I’ve got to make sure they’re crushed. For the most part there aren’t holes in my strategy. I really do seem at the top of the ladder. But big unforeseen life events just might bring me undone and give me the chance to re-evaluate.

    Whatever our history is—whether it’s marked by success or littered with failure—God’s call is to leave the past from memory. Jesus’ finished work as priest for us is now our story.

    Hebrews 10:14 says to us we already have perfection. But it has come from outside of ourselves. It is God’s full stamp of approval of us in the finished work of Christ.

    We have full forgiveness and clean consciences before God. It’s not just now but forever. It’s complete forgiveness and cleansing past, present and future.

    We have the only covering for sin there is. The blood of Jesus.

    Instead of our attempts to brand ourselves God has branded us. ‘By one sacrifice he has made perfect those who are being made holy.’

    Of course we do have real pressures and standards to meet. Our workplaces have demands that can be inflexible. We may have set performance goals to meet. Improving work practices and efficiency has a place.

    But in our attempt to meet these standards we need to place them in the bigger picture. Yes, they may be related to our income and ability hold down our job. But ultimately they do not define us.

    My performance isn’t my covering. Jesus has made us perfect; He’s our covering.

    2. Jesus has perfected us, now we’re works-in-progress

    This brings us to our second point: Jesus has perfected us, now we’re works-in-progress.

    This is what ‘being made holy’ is about. It shapes our expectations now. Sometimes we can get the order wrong. We’re perfect in status now. But we’ll be perfect in practice then.

    We’re works-in-progress now. We’re being made holy.

    God is the Craftsmen continuing to shape our character. Jesus says He’s the Gardener who prunes us as vines to make us more fruitful.

    I like this quote from Martin Luther:

    This life, therefore, is not righteousness but growth
    in righteousness,
    not health but healing,
    not being but becoming,
    not rest but exercise.
    We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing
    toward it;
    the process is not yet finished but it is going on;
    this is not the end but it is the road.
    All does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified.

    Jesus’ sacrifice of himself for us is sufficient for you and I to accept we’re not okay. We can be okay about not being okay.

    We can face imperfection. We can see brokenness. We don’t have to cover ourselves up as if we have it altogether. We can separate our sense of identity and worth from our particular failure.

    I think of Peter Hughes. He worked with students in uni ministry. He left that to start a church plant. Seven years in the church plant closed it’s doors.

    He’s blogged about God doing good things through that time. But since it didn’t meet its goal he’s okay with calling it a failure. He’s not a failure because he’s not just the sum total of what he does.

    I think of the image of a broken clay jar. That’s how the Bible pictures us.

    Paul spoke of having the treasure of the gospel in us as jars of clay. We’re weak, frail vessels. God’s purpose is to show that his saving power is his and not from us. (See 2 Corinthians 4:7.)

    It’s the cracks in the jar that let God’s light stream in. And it’s the cracks in the jar that let God’s light stream out from us to others.7 We’re not the focus. We never have been and we never will be.

    Are you and I content with being a clay jar in the hands of our Maker? Are we content with having his treasure within us though we are weakness and frail?

    Or does it offend us?

    The problem with sin is that it makes us glory-thieves.8 In our pride we try and make of ourselves something we were never meant to be.

    Our old stories were about raising ourselves up in the eyes of others. But not any more. That’s not who we are.

    We are God’s children, perfected in Christ. We are God’s children, his works-in-progress. We are being made holy but we’re not there yet. We haven’t arrived.

    When we are raised to glory we’ll be like Christ in our character. But we won’t be centre stage. We won’t be in the spotlight. It will all be God. It will be Jesus, our great priest. It will be his sacrifice of himself for us. It will all be his grace.

    3. Jesus has perfected us, now we’re aiming for faithfulness

    If we’re going to move forward living out our new stories in Christ then we had better redefine success and failure.

    What was your definition of success?

    Take that definition and discard it. Throw it in the bin. The new definition is faithfulness.

    This is our third point: Jesus has perfected us, now we’re aiming for faithfulness.

    It’s co-operating with God’s Spirit as he shapes us in the likeness of Christ. And it shapes every sphere of life, every attitude, every word we speak and everything we do.

    It’s very different to sinless perfection. That’s future. That’s to come. But it’s not now.

    Faithfulness is an all-encompassing way to talk about our response to Jesus finished work. I think we can equate it with fearing God. It’s living by ‘worship-fear’ before him in light of his holiness and love.

    Let’s see what shape faithfulness has in Hebrews 10:19-25:

    19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

    Entering the Most Holy Place is temple language for going into God’s very presence. We approach through Jesus, the new and living way. We trust his blood spilt and his body broken as our means of getting in. He is our great priest.

    Faithfulness means drawing near to God with the assurance of trusting Jesus’ work. It’s drawing near to God individually but also together as his people.

    What Jesus has done renovates our hearts. Within our conscience is clean. Our bodies are washed. We have covering that’s as deep as our problem.

    Faithfulness means holding firmly to the hope we have in Jesus. God who has made these promises to us is faithful.

    God is sturdy. Reliable. He’s the rock that stands firm beneath our feet.

    He’s not finished with us yet. He’ll carry us through to glory.

    To put this negatively faithfulness means turning our back on false hopes—any other means to deal with our sin, failure and shame.

    It’s worth asking ourselves: is our false hope for success really delivering? Does it really speak to the depths of our shame and sense of inadequacy?

    Dig deep enough and I suspect you’ll find it’s not as deep as the problem. But Jesus’ work is.

    Faithfulness means continuing to meet with one another as God’s people. This is God’s means of encouraging us. To turn our back on God’s people is a dangerous place to be in. Without others we can easily turning away from Him.

    As we meet together we’re to think about how to provoke one another to love and good deeds. We’re to encourage each other as the great day of Jesus return approaches. The day when his enemies will be judged as enemies and his people will be acquitted.

    I recently heard a very helpful definition of encouragement. Encouragement is helping us to see who Jesus is to us when we’re unable to see him.9

    We’re to have vulnerable friendships with each other where we’re open with our struggles, discouragement and fears. Others can be God’s very means of helping us to see what we’ve been unable to see. His very means of pointing us to himself. His very means of restoring perspective.

    This very means of encouragement that keeps us from being hardened from the blinding power of sin. (See Hebrews 3:12-13.) Left to ourselves we grow cold, we stop seeing spiritual realities clearly and we risk turning way from the living God.

    Can you see how our fear failure might get in the way of this picture of loving community?

    If I’m still pursuing success in some other means I’m likely to be using the people of God for my own ends. I’ll share as much as I need to meet my goals. My vulnerability and interaction will be more about using people and marketing my brand than it will be about loving others.

    It’ll lessen my ability to think specifically about how I may spur another on towards loving others. It’ll lessen my ability to be intentional about pointing out where I see Christ at work in another’s life. It’ll mean I’m not really engaging with another’s pain and discouragement. I’ll be too busy working for my own success.

    How Do We Address Our Fear of Failure?

    So how do we address our fear of failure practically?

    Step 1: Uncover Your Definition of Success

    What is your personal brand? What is your personal definition of success that you live by? In what areas do you fear failure?

    My story outside of Christ has been to try and do everything right. I was on the receiving end of bullying at primary school. I had uncontrollable anger. I felt like I was always in trouble. What I heard from messages at home was, “Why can’t you do anything right?”

    That was the trigger for me to do a complete back flip. I wanted to do everything right. That’s how I’ve tried to prove myself.

    How about you?

    Step 2: Take God’s Story & Rework Your Definition of Success

    We need to see the difference between competing stories—God’s story and our old story of success.

    How does God’s story critique our previous story? How does God provide a solution to our underlying shame or fear of worthlessness? How is this different to our attempts at success?

    What would it look like to discard your previous attempts at success? What would faithfulness look like where you’ve been trusting in self?

    God’s story tells me that I don’t need to get everything right. I have full approval in Jesus. I’m now his work-in-progress. I can face imperfection because I’m no longer trusting in my performance.

    There are many different ways we can speak God’s story to us. We need to grow in speaking to ourselves so it becomes the dominant story.

    Step 3: Workshop a Gospel Response to One Area of Failure

    We need to break the change process down into manageable areas of focus. Pick one specific area of life where you’re prone to failure.

    How do you typically respond to failure in this area of life? Is your pattern a win/lose response? Do you consciously recognise it as a threat? Or is the problem that you don’t even see it? Is your pattern one of self-punishment? Do you beat yourself up, or redouble your efforts to analyse your problems and change?

    God’s change process is not less than behavioural change but it’s so much more. We need the enabling of His Spirit to work out change at the level of the heart. It’s not something we can do on our own.

    Just a couple of weeks ago we the midweek spot I lead went well. By my old performance standards this was ’success’. But Hayley raised concerns for how we’re going in parenting no. 1 afterwards. By old standards this was ‘failure’.

    This prompted us to read at little book together: ’Angry Children: Understanding and Helping Your Children Regain Control’.10 I felt exposed and undone.

    When I see failure I often head down the path of self-punishment. I get lost in self-analysis. I trust self and try harder.

    But by God’s grace I was able to pray. I moved towards God. I confessed my sin and failure as a father in specific ways. But I also thanked God for the gospel story. I thanked him for a solution as deep as my problem. I thanked him for grace in Jesus that meant I could see my imperfection not as a threat but as opportunity to grow. I asked for help along the lines of particular obedience I needed to act on from reading. I moved forward in a constructive direction with a renewed sense of God’s enabling for faithfulness as a parent.

    Step 4: Involve Christian Community

    Change is a community project.11

    How can you involve Christian brothers and sisters in addressing your fear of failure? How can they be means of encouraging you when you’re discouraged? How can you give them permission to speak into your fear of failure when you might not see it’s flared up again?

    Example of Peter O’Brien

    Before we wrap up with our last scrapbook images I want to give you one more example of owning failure.

    In 2016 the Christian academic world was rocked when a publisher decided to destroy copies of 3 commentaries written by Peter O’Brien. He was a lecturer at Moore College. I’ve heard him speak before. People who know him personally speak highly of his character.

    How would a retired Christian scholar respond to this conclusion that he had plagiarised—though unintentional? Would it destroy his reputation? Wasn’t it his life work? How would he handle such a failure?

    I think Peter knows deeply the approval he has in Christ. He took full responsibility for his failure. These were his words:

    In the… commentaries that I have written, although I have never deliberately misused the work of others, nevertheless I now see that my work processes at times have been faulty and have generated clear-cut, but unintentional, plagiarism. For this I apologize without reservation.

    Scrapbook Images

    What images of God do we have to add to our scrapbook?

    1. Jesus is our great priest: he has perfected us. We are completely forgiven and washed clean. Past, present and future.
    2. Craftsman: our Father is the master craftsmen continuing to shape us so that we bear the likeness of Jesus. he’s the gardener who prunes us so we’re more fruitful. We’re works in progress and he’s not done yet.
    3. Rock: God is 100% reliable, the Faithful One. As we hold to the hope found in Jesus he will stick by his promises to us. Guaranteed. That’s his character.

    Prayer

    Heavenly Father,

    We can be deeply fearful people. But time and time again You’ve shown us that Your solution is as deep as our problem.

    We praise You for the perfection that Jesus gives us as our great priest. Thanks that his sacrifice is a covering for us—past, present and future.

    May we allow this story to reshape our attempts at success. May we allow it to cover our shame. May we gladly accept being Your works-in-progress. You are faithful to us. You’re not finished with us yet. May we grow to embrace weakness knowing it shows Your power that Your light might shine through us.

    May You free us from a crippling fear of failure so we might see Your greatness and love others more.

    In Jesus’ name. Amen.


    1. E.g. see: http://www.ntnews.com.au/sport/cricket/banned-aussie-cricketer-david-warner-holds-womens-coaching-clinic-in-darwin/news-story/5c5cd7c51c06b803909e5839c4fed54c ↩︎

    2. Paraphrase of Ed Welch on the fear of man adapted to the fear of failure. Edward T. Welch, When People are Big and God is Small. ↩︎

    3. Also paraphrasing Welch, When People… ↩︎

    4. Here I am summarising key details from Lane, W. L. Martin, Ralph P. and Peter H. Davids, eds. “Hebrews” in Dictionary of the Later New Testament. ↩︎

    5. Edward T. Welch, Forgetting the Past, https://www.ccef.org/resources/blog/forgetting-past. ↩︎

    6. Welch, Forgetting the Past. ↩︎

    7. See Leonard Cohen’s song Anthem for the theme of cracks (brokenness) letting light in. ↩︎

    8. Paul D. Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands. ↩︎

    9. Timothy S. Lane & Paul D. Tripp, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. ↩︎

    10. CCEF mini-book by Michal R. Emlet. ↩︎

    11. Timothy S. Lane & Paul D. Tripp, How People Change. ↩︎