Just when you think you’ve got it all together… failure sneaks up on you.
Just when you think you’ve got your nerves conquered… they ambush you and beat you up.
For four years now I’ve been coaching you, speakers who are growing your communication skills. I’ve written articles about overcoming your nerves, talked clients and friends off the ledge, and had countless conversations with my music major son about performance anxiety.
And most of the time, I’m not so nervous anymore.
Late last week, my worship pastor asked me to do the greeting at my church. Easy peasy. I’ve done it before, and it’s two minutes on stage telling everybody you’re glad they’re there, making a couple of announcements, and asking people to greet each other. No big deal. I’m a professional speaker. This is what I do, so I was happy my church staff felt free to ask me.
I launched into planning… my cute outfit. The other was going to be easy, so my outfit seemed like the most important aspect of preparation.
And it was all fine until we started singing. I was going to follow the first song, and I should have been fine. But I wasn’t. My heart was pounding. My breathing became labored gasps. My hands were dripping.
What in the world?
I wish I could tell you I pulled it together and overcame. But I didn’t. It was awful. I was a mess. I’ll leave the details to your imagination.
Our church has three services, so I still had two to go. I retreated to the silence of the library to lick my hurt pride and reflect.
Here’s the thing. I really didn’t want to write this today because my mind keeps saying, “Are you CRAZY?! Don’t confess this. No one will ever hire your again. How can anyone trust you to help them if you can’t even help yourself?”
But my heart wants to share with you because I learned/re-learned some important lessons yesterday. Since I think the heart lessons are the most important thing even if some of you count me out as pitiful :), here I am baring my soul.
As I sat in the library and prayed, I asked God, “What happened? What went wrong?” He gently showed me:
- I moved into this assignment in my own confidence. I had an “I’ve got this” attitude.
- I saw it as a small assignment. (Small but not insignificant. I LOVE my church!)
- I spent more time on my outfit than on my knees.
- I was worried about proving myself. My pastor was in the room for the first time when I spoke from the stage. I think very highly of him, and I wanted to impress him. (ps. This is entirely my issue, not a reflection on who he is.)
So what did I learn?
- My confidence is to be in Christ alone. I know that confidence is important for anything we do, but focus on self is one of my particular areas of sinfulness and weakness. Self-righteousness. Self-confidence. Self-ishness. God didn’t cause my flop, but He definitely has used it to renew a sense of dependence on Him and a deep knowledge that my only lasting confidence flows from Him.
- There is no small assignment. I need to approach every opportunity as important and sacred since I’m trusting God to open every door.
- Prayer is essential. As I’ve often quoted–It’s not just preparation for the work. It is the work.
- The best lesson for messed up motives is from scripture: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col. 3:17)
So there it is. Up through last night, I really just wanted to throw in the towel, but quitting isn’t an option. We’re called, friends, so we’ve just got to fail, learn, and move forward. I’ve been speaking for 10 years. I’ve spoken to large crowds and small groups. I’ve loved it all, but I can’t forget the simple lessons. God is the source. Motives are everything.