“By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you-I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" when away!” (2 Corinthians 10:1)
“Janet, please come to the platform.”
I got up out of my seat; my knees felt like overcooked spaghetti noodles—limp and mushy. Carefully walking to the front, a sweat broke out on my brow and my chest began to tighten…I couldn’t catch my breath. Dropping my notes on the way up the steps, I leaned over to pick them up and passed out cold.
That ugly emotion literally paralyzed me—fear of being in front of a group of people, fear of every eye in the room on me, fear of being judged, fear of making a mistake, fear of people laughing at me, fear of stumbling over my words, fear of failing to accomplish the task, fear of the sound of my own voice. Fear literally choked me that morning over 40 years ago.
But, put a pen in my hand and a piece of paper in front of me and I was in my element. Better yet, bring me a typewriter and I could whip out an article or story or letter to anyone in a matter of minutes. Communication with the written word was as natural for me as talking was for most others.
Years have come and gone. Fear looms and lurks around corners waiting to trap me, but I’m wise to that old device. In an effort to defy old man fear, I have purposely allowed myself to be put in situations where I had to speak, not only in front of a ninth grade class, but in front of thousands.
When I came across 2 Corinthians 10:1, I understood all too well what Paul was saying. Today it is still much easier for me to communicate through writing. But I won’t let the enemy intimidate me with fear when it comes to speaking. As with Paul, sometimes I may appear “timid” when speaking face-to-face, now it is the meekness and gentleness of Christ speaking through me, not fearful timidity. My newfound “boldness” to speak openly is based on the authority I have as a believer communicating the Word of God.
Do I still struggle with fear before a crowd? Only if I take my eyes off Christ and put them on the circumstance. But when I’m speaking to one or thousands, if my eyes are on Christ and I am acting as His spokesperson, what have I to fear?
The life of Paul continues to amaze me as I study. He’s such a “normal” man with real issues that were overcome as Christ in him become more and he became less. I’d be willing to admit I’d like to be like Paul, but my true goal is to be like Jesus who is the reason Paul became such a powerful influence in the early church.
Nope … I don’t want to emulate Paul, I choose to be a reflection of Christ as His image is perfected in me for His glory and His alone.
Jan, I enjoyed your article. It caused me to remember how (many years ago) my legs used to shake when I stood before the church to sing, but my desire to sing to the Lord was greater than the spirit of fear! Blessings, Barb.
My son is experiencing this kind of fear--he plays guitar and sings. Now, mind you, he isn't a great singer or guitarist yet, but as time goes on, he gets better and better. His church calls upon him monthly, his youth group also calls upon him weekly, to perform in front of people. He is scared witless every time. Until he gets going. Then he says the fear leaves, especially when others begin to clap hands and sing with him. A friend of his who just graduated high school is a preacher, and he told him that he still is afraid every time he stands before a congregation and begins to speak. But, he said, as soon as the first word is spoken, the fear falls away and the Lord steps in and something beautiful happens. Great article and thanks! I'm going to share this with my son. Beth