I’m not an overly fearful person. I’ve mastered the art of staying home alone at night without turning on every light in the house.
I’m not fond of snakes, but I’ve held my share of them.
And dying isn’t a fear because I know where I’m going–heaven waits.
But put me in front of a crowd with the assignment of speaking, and I become a limpid noodle, wanting to shrivel up and drop through the cracks in the floor.
Don’t get me wrong–I have a lot of things to say. I’m highly opinionated and will air my thoughts quite easily with friends when we talk. Or with strangers in line at the checkout.
I do not, however, enjoy being the center of attention. Having people looking at me with the expectation that I’ll say something worth thinking about. Or worse. That I’ll say something that proves I have no idea of what I’m talking about.
I appreciate Abraham Lincoln’s perspective on speaking out. “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” My great fear is that I’ll be found out as someone masquerading as a thinking human being.
This ruminating comes after having given a talk this past weekend. The crowd wasn’t huge. It was all women. But as far as I’m concerned, anything more than three people is too many eyes on me.
I’m not confident that I’m worth listening to. I know my content is valid–anytime you talk about the power, purpose and love of Jesus, you can’t help but have winning content. But when I watch speakers who are engaging and fun and obviously love the crowds, I feel like the last one picked for the school baseball team.
They don’t see me as a strong player.
Let me make a correction there. It’s not how I think people see me.
Fear does that. It creeps into my mind like a thief, quietly absconding with confidence, assurance and truth so that what’s left is doubt, worry and paralysis. Fear undermines what I know is right, making me question what I know to be true.
I know I’m neither perfect nor do I know all there is to know. Questions about my competence come naturally. Will I be able to do what I said I’d do?
If the sum total of who I am is the basis for my achievements, that foundation will be shaky at best. But if I rely on Someone who is perfect in power and purpose, I gain perspective on what He sees are my capabilities.
God puts it simply.
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with My victorious right hand.” Isaiah 40:10
If I can remember I’m not alone, that I represent and reflect the God who made me, I have the capacity for confidence in Him. I won’t always do it right. And there will always be those who do it better. But I’ll be the best I can be in Him.
I guess those are the only eyes on me I need to care about.