Fear of Success: The Plague of What-ifs


Have you ever been afraid of success? I know that question my seem odd at first glance, but as wonderful as success sounds and feels, many times it arrives with a whole new set of challenges to be conquered and/or skills to master.

I recently returned from a top-notch writers conference—the Maranatha Christian Writers Conference in Muskegon, Michigan—where I took a few important steps toward success. While there, I got to meet individually with several publishing professionals. A few were very interested in my book project and asked me to send them either the proposal and sample chapters or the manuscript. Yay, right?!

As exciting as these steps forward are, the what-ifs of actual success—and the steps getting there—also scare me a bit. What if those who requested my materials end up saying no after taking a closer look? Is more rejection ahead?

If someone does offer representation or a book contract, what if I make the wrong decision about that particular agent or publishing house? After signing a contract, what if I’m not able to meet the deadlines for edits or future books? What if I’m not able to do the edits to their satisfaction?

And it doesn’t stop there. The what-ifs keep coming. What if I’m called upon to use new skills while getting the book ready for publication or while marketing it? What if I have to go way beyond my comfort zone to market the book? What if my efforts aren’t enough? What if the book fails to sell as well as the publisher wants? Bottom line—what  if I fail?

In order to stop the runaway what-if train and keep my fears at bay, I must remind myself that if God opens the door for success, he will equip me to do the work. He will direct me and help me each step of the way. The same God who has faithfully walked with me to this point will continue to walk with me in the future. And he is enough for whatever comes.

How about you? Are what-ifs plaguing you today? Yours may not even be related to success, but the principle still applies. God will be with us come what may. And yes, he is enough.

“. . . ‘Be strong and courageous and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you . . .’” 1 Chronicles 28:20

*When have you been afraid of success? Did things work out okay?

*Flickr photo by Trekking Rinjani


  1. Rachel Davidson Skatvold says

    I enjoyed reading your post, Cheryl. I find myself feeling the same way sometimes. Last year at the HACWN conference I had a few publishers interested and ask for writing samples. I was so excited, until I got home and let my fear get in the way. It took me about 6 months before I mustered up the courage to send out my first book proposal. I was full of what ifs and scared of rejection. I am still waiting to hear back, but I know God is in control.
    I will be praying for you and for success for your book project. Are you coming to the HACWN conference this year? Blessings on your writing. :)

    • Rachel, so good to hear from you — and thanks so much for your prayers. You know exactly what I’m talking about. So glad you conquered your fear and sent your proposal out. It’s so good to know that we can trust God to bring about what’s best for us, isn’t it? I would love to see you at the HACWN conference again this year, but I doubt I’ll be there since I went to the conference in Michigan in late Sept. If I decide to come, I’ll let you know. Blessings on your writing, too!

  2. Cheryl – As God opens these wonderful doors of opportunity for you, I pray you will march right on through them, knowing He is right there with you. Wishing you every success as you travel on your personal journey towards success.

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