Three words describe this season as I sort through all that makes me who I am. Safe. Strong. Brave.
“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”
― Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)
My first year in youth ministry our pastor asked me to preach my first sermon. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to do that. After doing that, I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to do it again. Fear. It tastes like soured milk. When it hits our stomachs we want to hurl it out and never taste it again. But fear wasn’t meant for us.
Now, I get to speak often and for all sorts of audiences I realize the potential our words and presence have when they’re handed over to Jesus in humility. Wow does it take humility. Because even after preaching hundreds of sermons and delivering messages in front of thousands. We can miss it. That’s why fear is tempting, because we aren’t sure if this next talk will be our last or our great unveiling. Fear feels like comfort in those moments except it’s mask is a lie. Fear doesn’t help us keep going.
- I fell off a stage once. The lights went dark for the band to enter, the stairs weren’t taped and I missed them, completely.
- I preached a funeral once and then immediately traveled to speak at a youth camp where I said “I’ve got this.” But I didn’t have it, at all.
- I started coughing once at a junior high event and couldn’t stop. Thankfully, they all coughed with me in solidarity.
- I’ve mixed up my words and my football teams. Both can be humorous or disastrous, depending.
I’ve learned something in all of these experiences and in the moment I wished that they didn’t happen. But I’m thankful that every day is a new one to practice what we’ve learned along the way.
I’ve never regretted trying.
I’ve never felt timid about sharing the hope I’ve found in Jesus.
I’ve never wondered if God could communicate through me, I know God can.
I’ve always traded in this confidence for fear when I’m weak and tired. So I work on that too. Getting sleep, being fed, letting others serve me and care for me for some moments. These are the things you learn when you fall off stages and cough your way though a message.
I’m thankful that me being me–me saying yes–opens the door a little wider for other leaders (and women) in churches and on stages.
My influence is intricately wrapped and strengthened in yours. But my influence doesn’t keep you from having yours and yours doesn’t keep my from having mine. Because our roots are Jesus.
And, I know that my less shining moments don’t determine the future for the rest of us.
I love hearing feedback and growing every single time I speak.
I love having the opportunity to say what needs to be said.
It’s a beautiful place to be.
Without fear, I enter into another season of wild trust.
Here’s where I’ll be speaking this spring.
I can’t wait to connect with more of you about the movement that’s forming and about the passion for churches and families to love kids together.
It’s going to be fun.