Those who know me well, know that I have a stutter in my speech.
Moreover, those who knew me high school know how much I dreaded oral presentations for the simple fact that I would turn a 7 minute presentation into a 15 minute one due to my stuttering.
I would often try and persuade classmates into giving me less things to say in order to avoid speaking as much as possible. Conveniently leaving the classroom to use the bathroom whenever the teacher would ask us to publicly read aloud during English class.
Due to this fear/ anxiety, you would understand my initial reaction when I was approached by one of my church leaders to preach a couple years ago.
For 2 reasons.
I didn’t feel qualified to preach due to the lack of growth I often felt in my faith.
But more than anything, I was terrified to speak in front of people due to fear of making a fool of myself whiles stuttering.
So I always found ways to finesse myself out of the situation by telling them I was busy.
However, I eventually caved and agreed to preach during a Friday night service.
Immediately after the preaching, I began asking myself questions like:
- How many times did I stutter?
- Did I take too long?
- Will they ask me to preach again?
- How do I convince them I’m a Bible genius the next time I get asked to preach?
Although the technicalities of some of these questions in itself were not entirely wrong, the underlying nature of them were very clear.
When I preached, I was solely focused on one person.
Protecting my reputation out of fear of possibly looking stupid.
So concerned about protecting this reputation that I “humbly” refused to do anything that could jeopardize my pride.
This fear, often disguised as “humility” is what caused me to lie my way out of preaching the first few times I was approached.
This fear often disguised as “humility” is what almost caused me to not even share this blog post.
Once I understood this mindset, I made an effort to shift the focus away from me.
The scripture below began to slowly but surely change my perspective.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15 ESV
Originally, my intent was to present myself to man as one approved instead of God.
Once God became my primary focus, my fear was slowly replaced with gratitude for even having the opportunity to speak, let alone share his word.
My attention was now geared toward God’s approval of the truths I was sharing.
So I now found myself asking questions like
- Would God approve of my word?
- Was the word truthful?
- Have I left out any hard truths to simply protect my reputation?
- Did I preach out of love or pride?
Ironically, the less focus I placed on myself, the more effective my preparation became.
Even more ironic,
This caused me to actively begin working on my stutter (rather than being anxious about it), specifically for when I was given opportunities to preach.
Naturally, the fear of man was slowly but surely being replaced with the fear of God.
And I’m still a work in progress.
……………….Now why in the world should any of this matter to you?
Well other than getting me more views for my blog 😉 (love yall), here’s the moral of the story:
There are a number of legitimate factors to consider before utilizing your various gifts for God’s kingdom.
Fear should never be one of them.
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV
Many times, we often use the phrase “I’m not ready yet”, when the basis of our readiness is the level of fear or our obsession to be accepted by people.
But if you’re child of God, that fear ain’t in you fam. Issa lie! (hence 2 Timothy 1:7 ^^)
And when fear tries to finesse its way back into your heart (because it will), reject it like Lebron did to Andre Iguodala during last year’s NBA finals. Give absolutely no life to it.
Moses dealt with a similar scenario when fear almost fully crippled him from being used by God to deliver His people from Egypt. Similar to many of us, he was quick to give every possible excuse in the book to prevent him from being obedient (Exodus 4:10-17).
But God reassured him by saying that He would be with Moses’ mouth and teach him what to do (Exodus 4:11-12).
Imagine if Moses had disobeyed.
Not only would he have not delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, but he would of missed the opportunity to be with God.
There is nothing more comforting than knowing that God is with you, and this is the promise He gives to people who are working to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20)
And if God is for us, whom do we have to fear other than God himself? (Romans 8:31-33)
Maybe the ministry God has called you into might not seem as “big” as Moses’. It may not involve standing behind a pulpit, healing the sick or raising the dead.
But who knows exactly what God can do through the “small” things He’s asked of you?
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Romans 12:6-8 ESV
There might have been scenarios in your life where you’ve been given opportunities to advance the God’s kingdom…but out of fear, we often paralyze ourselves from going forward with it.
Whether that be feeding the homeless, evangelizing in downtown Ottawa during Canada Day, or using the full-potential of your talents to minister at your local church.
We might be praised for it
We might be ridiculed for it.
But our challenge is to always seek the approval of God above all things whiles walking in love.
Never allow fear to paralyze you, you might be the vessel for someone’s joy.
Soli Deo Gloria