For years public speaking has had me on edge. I have preached entire services before, but fear and nervousness still always engulfs me beforehand. This time, that wasn’t the case. Why? Because it was my choice.
My whole life up until a few weeks ago was filled with dreading being up in the front of attention where everyone is looking. I even went out of my way to stay in the back by getting an Audio Engineering degree so I could sit behind the soundboard all service. In recent years, God has since birthed a passion for missions inside of me, but I still did all I could to avoid being front-and-center. However, in the past year or two, my passion for missions has slowly turned my heart to be an Evangelist. But if I want to be an Evangelist, things have to change. So I started working my way up. This evolved from me speaking five minutes on a Sunday morning to speaking at a small youth group and now preaching an entire service. The change was great, and I even remember speaking at the service thinking, “I sure am not the same man I used to be.” That was all great in theory; however, there was still this fear inside holding me back. There was something deep down in the pit of me, but it hadn’t come out yet, it was stirring deep within waiting. Courage was holding itself in there, and I just couldn’t seem to muster myself to bring it out. I could speak all service, but inside of me, there was a raging lion waiting to show people exactly how passionate I am.
A few weeks ago I was asked to speak at an event the organization I work for was holding. They wanted me to fully memorize a page and a half of words that was giving someone else’s testimony. This was going to show how Go To Nations is raising up millennials such as the man in the story and myself to reach the unreached world. To me, that was a daunting task. Not only that, but the script wasn’t given to me until a few days before the actual event. I stunned myself on the phone called as the man on the other line asked me if I would accept the part and replied, “Sure!” Nothing inside of me wanted to take such a task. Fast forward to the week of the event. I was given the script Monday, and the event was Friday. I also had to travel from Tampa to Jacksonville during that Tuesday and had just arrived from Birmingham on that Monday. To me, that was not a lot of time to memorize with all the traveling. Still, I never quit. The day of the event came. The closer to the time it got, the more nervous I had gotten. This was the first time I had to nail something completely from memory. In front of 250 people nonetheless! We went over the whole event from beginning to end to see how things rolled on through. As I said my given speech, I didn’t even miss a word. As I stepped off the stage, fear hit me again as I realized that was just a practice run-through. The real thing hadn’t come yet. A few more hours rolled by and now the event had started. It was only a few minutes before my part of the event was about to happen, along with two other people giving memorized speeches as well. As I stood behind the scenes waiting to go up, I decided for myself that enough was enough. I had spent years being nervous beforehand only to be held back in my messages and speeches because of fear and intimidation. I stopped pacing for a moment, breathed in deeply, and told myself, “I’m done with fear.” Suddenly, I no longer felt any fear or thought any negative thoughts inside of me. I was filled with courage. I felt like I could tear a lion in half! It was time. I stepped up onto the stage, and the lights dimmed. One of the others gave their speech first. After a few minutes of staring into the darkness, the spotlight hit me. Then without any spec of doubt inside of me, every word rolled right off my tongue. Passion was flowing. Confidence had planted, sprouted, and rooted itself inside of me. I could have taken on a crusade of 5,000,000 people. I hit every word and gave it all of my heart. I stepped backward, and the last person started to give her speech. It was finished.
People often say “I bet you feel so relieved now that it’s over!” but I wasn’t relieved. I wanted to do this again. It was almost as if God had used that situation to prepare me for my heart’s deepest desire, standing in front of millions of people to preach the Gospel of Jesus all over the world. After the event was over, people came up to me one right after the other to tell me how I did such a great job on my part. It felt refreshing to hear everyone’s experience. But it didn’t even stop there. Someone came up to me saying “While you were standing there beginning to speak, God told me that the man standing there was a great Man of God. As you uttered word after word, God just kept telling me all about how someday you would be in such a bigger position than you are today. God is going to expand your ministry. I just wanted to tell you that.” He then began praying for me. As he did, tears started to well up in my eyes as I began to realize that this was all real. This wasn’t a dream. God was telling me that the desire inside me to preach the Gospel to millions and crusades like the great Reinhard Bonnke wasn’t fake, it was a passion on the inside of me that God Himself wanted to bring to pass. Even as I type this right now, I can still feel that fire burning inside of me as it was on the stage that day.
You may be sitting here reading this, telling yourself all about the big dreams you have too. My friend, never let fear get in the way of what you truly desire in your heart and never tell yourself that you’re too small to do anything great. You were born to do amazing things. Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Set aside that fear that will weigh you down and run your race with full stamina, never quitting. For we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9). You’re greater than fear and you were meant for big things!