Never Take Counsel From Your Fears

Never Take Counsel From Your Fears

Excerpt from the talk titled: Fear Not, I am With Thee by David A. Bednar


Stonewall Jackson was a general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War.  Many military historians consider General Jackson to be one of the most gifted tactical commanders in U.S. history.  As a young man he fought in the Mexican American war, and during the Civil War he served with General Robert E. Lee and commanded confederate troops in a number of key battles with Union forces.

Once as General Jackson was discussing strategic options with his associates, a commander began his recommendation with the statement, “I fear we will not find our wagons tonight.”

Stonewall responded to the words, “I fear,” in his colleague’s observation with a penetrating truth that ultimately became the general’s trademark: “Never take counsel from your fears” (Mary Anna Jackson, Memoirs of “Stonewall” Jackson, 1895, 264).  That is the simple principle I want to discuss with you today: never taking counsel from your fears.  …

To not take counsel from our fears simply means that we do not permit fear and uncertainty to determine our course in life, to affect negatively our attitudes and behavior, to influence improperly our important decisions, or to divert or distract us from all in this world that is virtuous, lovely, or of good report.  To not take counsel from our fears means that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ overrules our fears and that we press forward with a steadfastness in Him.  To not take counsel from our fears means that we trust in God’s guidance, assurance, and timing in our lives.  I promise each of us can and will be blessed with direction, protection, and lasting joy as we learn to not take counsel from our fears.

As we exercise faith in Christ and trust in His promises, we can walk into the dark with the absolute assurance that our pathway will be illuminated—at least far enough to take the next step—and then the next step—and the next step.   One of the great lessons of my life came as I served as the president of BYU–Idaho and faced significant challenges and obstacles during the transition of Ricks College into a four-year university.   I recall listening to President Hinckley on several occasions counsel doubters, cynics, and critics that “everything will work out.”   And he was right.   Everything worked out—even though we did not know at the time all of the details and specifics.  …

Prophets repeatedly have emphasized the truth that our faith in the Lord can and will replace our fears.

Joseph Smith declared, “We have nothing to fear if we are faithful.”  I want to repeat this simple teaching for emphasis, “We have nothing to fear if we are faithful” (Joseph Smith, The Personal Writing of Joseph Smith, 319).

President Howard W. Hunter explained, “If our lives are centered in Christ, nothing can go permanently wrong.  I am aware that life presents many challenges, but with the help of the Lord, we need not fear.  If our lives and our faith are centered on Jesus Christ and his restored gospel, nothing can ever go permanently wrong.  On the other hand, if our lives are not centered on the Savior and his teachings, no other success can ever be permanently right” (Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams, 40).

President Gordon B. Hinckley testified, “We suffer from the fear of ridicule, the fear of failure, the fear of loneliness, the fear of ignorance.  Some fear the present, some the future.  Some carry a burden of sin and would give almost anything to unshackle themselves from that burden, but fear to change their lives. Let us recognize that fear comes not of God, but rather that this gnawing, destructive element comes from the adversary of truth and righteousness.  Fear is the antithesis of faith.  It is corrosive in its effects, even deadly.

“‘For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind’ (2 Timothy 1:7).  These principles are the great antidotes to the fears that rob us of our strength and sometimes knock us down to defeat. They give us power.  “What power? The power of the gospel, the power of truth, the power of faith, the power of the priesthood” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Faith: The Essence of True Religion, 13-14).

Our living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, counseled, “Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments.  There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us…Fear not.  Be of good cheer.  The future is as bright as your faith” (“Be of Good Cheer,” Ensign, May 2009, 92).