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Seven Fears Athletes Face; Seven Truths God Gives

Published on February 25, 2020

Sarah Freymuth
Fears can consume us like an opponent taunting us to give in. But we are built for more than that.

We are built to stand strong, faces turned towards our challenges and take them head on. God gives us the strength to hold truth over fear.

Below, we’ve taken seven common fears competitors face and replaced them with seven truths from God’s Word to focus on instead.


Fear of Not Being Good Enough

The fear of not being “good enough” follows us around like a pestering cold that won’t leave. We’re assailed with impossible standards, created by our own perceptions, or the rules of others. We want to know that we measure up, fit in, and are accepted and deemed worthy. We set our sights high on success, tumbling down to disappointment if we fall short in what we perceive that success to be.


Truth: You are enough. Just as you are.

Thank You for making me so
wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how
well I know it.

-Psalm 139:14

You are purposefully and wonderfully created by a kind and purposeful God, and what He says is absolute. Understanding our identity in Him who formed all things aligns us with a certainty that we are already worthy in His eyes. He does not love us any less when the score or our performance doesn’t go the way we’d like. When we keep our eyes fixed on Him and who He says we are, there’s a solid foundation that solidifies inside us and we take this truth into our game.


Fear of Failure

Oftentimes, we let our emotions rule our play. Ideal playing conditions tell us to be loose, peel away our expectations and let all the hours of preparation work with what our bodies know to do and compete. But this is easier said than done. We can compete as if we are weighed down by worry of losing, especially when we seem to be the favorites going into a game or match.


Truth: You will not fail because God never fails you.

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”  -Deuteronomy 31:6

God sticks with us because He loves us, because we have been identified with Christ through His death and resurrection and now approach our heavenly Father with confidence. He is always faithful and true, and we can rest knowing that however we play, if we play as praise and worship to Him, that’s what matters. The game is won or lost, we hit a personal best or blunder, but ultimately, we rest in who He says we are and can know that our efforts please our Father.


YouVersion-7Fears-SmFear of the Unknown

We like to know what’s going to happen next. We like to be prepared, to focus on what we know and what to expect. In an ideal world, everything is mapped out for us and every outcome is revealed to us before they happen. Rarely does life announce itself beforehand. You want to know if all the hours of sweat and sacrifice will be worth it, and an unseen worry consumes you.


Truth: Trust in the God of the unknown.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” – Hebrews 13:8

He who formed the end from the beginning has everything under control. Nothing is hidden from His sight, and nothing that happens in our day-to-day lives surprises Him. He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. God sees how it all will unfold, and He is unchanging. We can trust the One who holds the stars to hold our fears. Whatever it is that keeps us back from a full, abundant life no longer has a hold when we fix our eyes on firm foundation.


Fear of Being Judged

We wonder how we measure up, if all our effort is making a difference, and if those whom we hold in high regard are pleased. Whether we are aware or not, our parents, coaches, teammates, and friends impact our assessment of talent and play. We can get caught up in what our coach is thinking as we’re in the middle of the game, distracting us from being 100% in the moment, and tightening us up rather than allowing us freedom to have fun while playing.


Truth: God’s approval is the only approval you need.

 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.”  -Luke 6:37

The great news is that God already approves! You are the apple of His eye and are hidden in the shadow of His wing. He looks upon you with favor and gives you peace. You are His beloved, you are chosen, and you are set apart. Believe it. Rest in His words. There’s no need to have our eyes stray off His face and get ourselves tangled in false notions of what others say.


Fear of Not Meeting Expectations

We’ve all been there. A coach either expecting too much or too little of us. Parents with unrealistic expectations to live up to an older sibling or their own playing days. It can crush us, squeeze us with pressure and put us in an unending struggle to live up to what wasn’t meant for us in the first place. Sometimes the weightiest expectations are the ones we put on ourselves. We set goals for where we’d like to be by the end of the season, how much we want to lift, and awards we want. When we don’t reach them, it can be crushing, and we label ourselves as failures.


Trust in the God of the UnknownTruth: Christ has no heavy expectations for you, only care.

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”   - Jeremiah 29:11

You were dreamed of before the world began, and this included all your talents, interests, and how to serve your corner of the world. There are things God has for us to do, but there shouldn’t be pressure to it. The way God sees us creates an ease and confidence to go out and give our best, and to not analyze every little aspect about our days. We are free in Him and free to compete for love of the game and glory to God.


Fear of Success

Sure, we want to be successful and do well, but in a corner of our minds, we wonder what we might do if this success goes to our heads. We can get caught up in the spotlight, on our talents, on all the championships we’ve won, and all that may not be good enough. Maybe there will never be enough of the accolades, and we will always need another win, another record, or another word of praise. We become too fixed on getting too far.


Truth: We are already winners in Christ.

“I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”           
- Philippians 4:13

Christ went to the cross to guarantee our victory. He came out on top, scorning death and sin, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. We can rejoice that He has won, and we are on His team! As heirs to God’s kingdom, we have more eternal success than we can ever garner here on Earth. And we can take this mentality to the playing field and come out from a perspective that the biggest game has already been won.


Fear of Injury or Reinjury

Setback and injury do a number on our psyche. If it’s been a painful blow, we wonder if we’ll ever get back on the court or field. We watch from the sidelines as our teammates run around and practice, we cheer them on from the bench during games, all the while going through the weeks and months of rehab in hopes to get back out there. And when we finally have clearance, we tend to play more gingerly, afraid of reinjuring what we spent so much time and energy on to heal.


Truth: God gives us the healing we really need.

“He heals the brokenhearted
and bandages their wounds.”  

- Psalm 147:3

Yes, He watches over our bodies, and sometimes we must come back from a twisted ankle or snapped ACL. But ultimately, He is after our heart, wanting to cut beneath the physical pain to reach what’s emotionally and spiritually strangling us. He cares about us too much to leave us in our pain, so if something is going on that forces us into rest and healing, we can be assured He is also doing deep work to form us into the image of His Son.


When we fix our eyes on faith instead of fear, more of God’s strength and grace come into focus.

We are filled with freedom to compete without pressure. In Christ, we are enough, and He provides everything we need to play and live out of the fullness He offers.



Want to dig deeper into this fear vs. truth battle? Download and read our new YouVersion plan! Download the app and search for Seven Fears Athletes Face.


Consider: Which fear most resonates with you? How can you focus on the truth God offers for it?

Action: Determine that anytime you feel fear this week, you will hand it over to God and trust that He is bigger than your circumstances or fear.