The Fear of Man

PARANOIA - The Unreasoning Curse of Suspiciousness

God's Word says, "The fear of man brings a snare: but whoso puts his trust in the Lord shall be safe." Prov. 29:15
The kind of person this paper refers to has a "chip on their shoulder;" and are convinced that others are "out to get them." They are constantly looking for and interpreting threats. When we approach them about their unreasoning fears, they turn on us and see us as a part of them who are "against them." Their suspiciousness will cause their conversations to be full of terminology like: "them. . ."; "they. . ."; or, "people are talking. .".
They are incapable of real, genuine intimacy. To your face they will have words "smooth as butter," but behind your back, they will cut you down. Information is very valuable to them. They use it to obtain the illusion (delusion) of power and/or control. Mental health workers in the region will tell you that we have a greater than average number of people with this way of looking at and perceiving the world.
Understand that people with these traits are medically called paranoids. We are not interested in labeling, and name-calling. Our interest here is to have what Solomon called an "understanding heart."
Paranoia is a mental-health (DSM IV) term and occurs in two states. In one state it is an extension of deep psychiatric problems that have terrible, on-going symptoms. In the other state, it is often mis-diagnosed, and subsequently never treated. If a person's character is mis-formed as a result of poor postnatal care, then the person will have a paranoia-type way of looking at the world. I am listing below some of the traits, which constitute the curse of paranoia (suspiciousness):

1. AUTHORITY - Paranoids gravitate toward positions involving perceived power and authority. They are authority obsessed. They have been described as "authoritarian/anti-authoritarian." The will instinctively attack anyone whom they perceive to be an authority figure. Ministry people are very threatening to paranoids. The higher the perceived power in the pastor the more vociferously they will attack him.

2. TRUST - The "fear of man people" have trouble trusting others. The love and friendship that that happen with peer (intimate/close) relationships is impossible for them. They will approach you from a "top dog" [They feel good about this!] / "under dog" [They feel bad about this!] perspective. They cannot approach you as an equal.

3. COMPULSIVE - Paranoids are neat and orderly. To be less that organized and orderly would invite criticism, which they cannot handle. They do everything well, but they overdo orderliness. Others are compared against their high standards.

4. NO SELF-DISCLOSURE - Those with the curse of suspiciousness cannot reveal anything about themselves. They are too afraid you will use it against them. Personal information equals power in their minds. All exchanges with people are interpreted on a power and control basis.

5. UP TIGHT - Constant wariness keeps them vigilant, apprehensive. They cannot relax, take criticism or laugh at themselves. They take themselves seriously; too seriously.

6. GATHER TROOPS - Those with the fear of man have few friendships. When they take a friend, it is usually someone who sees the world through the same lens of fear through which they look. Generally, these friendships are subordinate from a power point of view. They will often swing from one ally to another, because over a period of time their conviction that others cannot be trusted, will be acted out by others.

7. R E B U K E - They cannot take rebuke or criticism. You have the problem, not they. In a confrontation they will "get in your face," and sometimes get physical. They have characteristically poor impulse control.

8. PERFECTIONISTIC - This is a natural follow-up to the other traits. Paranoids will even see God as perfectionistic. They set high standards for themselves and others. They are always comparing themselves with others (This is warned about in the commandment against covetousness!). When comparing themselves with others,, they will either see themselves as "top-dog", or "under-dog."

9. PERFORMANCE ORIENTED - The fear of man persons will feel that God's acceptance is on the basis of works. They take very literally the apostle Paul's command to "work out your own salvation." (Phil 2:12)
They become "human doings," rather than "human beings."

10. NOT WELL - All of these people described above are torn by fear, anger and depression. They have a chronic problem with depression.

11. ALL ARE EXTRINSIC - They are "letter of the law" people. They are excellent at "proof-texting" scripture, but poor in applying the "spirit of the law."

12. OVER-STRICT/UNDER-STRICT CONSCIENCES - What their consciences will and will not allow them to do is arbitrary. Positions on issues are chosen arbitrarily by whim and caprice.

13. POOR LEADERSHIP MATERIAL - Paranoids make poor leaders. Any position you give them will be interpreted from a power perspective and abused. They ultimately destroy the job they are asked to do, especially if the job involves getting close to and cooperating with others.



Romans 14


1. A C C E P T - Accept and love one another on the basis that Christ has accepted and loved us all. He has commanded us to love one another.

2. JUDGING - Do not judge. God alone is the final judge. Judgment implies being judge, jury and executioner of someone. That is not for us, it is God's job. Instead, let us use the gift of discernment to understand and know one another.

3. OFFENCES - See that you do not deliberately offend a "weaker brother." And see that none of you become "weaker brother" tyrants, either!

4. PERSPECTIVE - Get a Kingdom of God perspective about these conflicts. See vs. 17, "For the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. . .'"

5. PRIVACY - Keep to yourself what your conscience does or does not allow. (See vs. 22)

6. CONSCIENCE - Do not destroy the work of God's Kingdom over a matter of individual conscience.
Courtesy of Sheepfold Ministries
Pastoral Counselor Rev. Phil Roland, 724-981-5683