Public Speaking is Scary: I Don’t Know if I’m Called to Preach
When I was younger I was one of the shyest kids. I was self-conscious, and had a hard time speaking in front of crowds and in groups. In Sunday School, I would listen as others participated and contributed. I was scared to speak up for fear of failure. I thought I would say something stupid. A big step for me in starting to speak in public was vacation Bible school. I did puppets. I would stand behind a screen, and speak for the puppets. This then led me to get involved in Sunday school. I was an assistant teacher, and would occasionally prepare a lesson. I then became the classroom teacher, and by this time I was teaching lessons almost every week in front of children. I was still scared to speak in front of adults, but I was learning and becoming more confident. I started doing theater in high school, and one time I got a very small role in the school play. I then started to do the Christmas plays at church, and started getting roles in the plays. Step-by-step, I was learning how to speak in public and it was getting less scary. I also was in the youth choir, and would occasionally sing a solo. All of these steps in ministry helped me realize speaking in public wasn’t the worst thing in the world! Over the years I have opened services, did one-on-one Bible studies, taught adult Sunday school classes, shared public testimonies, spoke at retreats, been on discussion panels, and preached several times. I still get a little nervous, but I have challenged myself to keep stepping out and taking the risk.
The key to public speaking is to start small, and continue to challenge yourself to step out more and more. Usually, a person doesn’t preach a conference the first week they want to start speaking in public. It takes time. I think five minute sermonettes for those who want to become preachers are the gold mine! Five minute sermonettes challenge the speaker to take a thought, develop it, and communicate it in a brief period of time. Those who can verbally communicate well often can say a lot in a short amount of time. Preaching an hour length sermon does not mean you have said any more than someone who preaches for twenty minutes. Chances are, you have repeated yourself numerous times and have bored people. I wish more pastors would help younger leaders by giving them the opportunity to do five minute sermonettes. Preachers who don’t practice aren’t very good preachers.
Public speaking can be very scary, but if you feel God has called you to preach, start with small steps and build up your confidence. Allow God to build your foundation up, and give you confidence as more doors opens. Sometimes you will have to help those doors open by sharing your dreams and desires with people, but walk through the doors and be willing to learn. You can be a great speaker if you are committed and dedicated to practicing, reflecting, and honing this skill. Great speakers learn the tricks; they don’t just wake up one day and become the best preachers.
I also want to conclude by saying the greatest gift in the Bible is not preaching. Preaching is not the primary and highest calling. The highest calling is to be a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ. Preaching is one gift God gives to the church to help communicate The Word of God. Now all women and men will be preachers. We all have different gifts, and we should use these gifts to help build the body of believers. God is not going to call you to be or do something you don’t want to be or do. If you don’t want to speak in public, you don’t have to, and you can still serve and be what God has called you to be. Some of the quietest spirits have influenced my life. Often a life lived says more than a preacher on a platform. Our words are important, but our actions are equally important.
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