I’ve heard pastors of 30+ years say they’ve never outgrown their fear of preaching. I’ve heard them say that even now, after preaching to tens of thousands, they still get uncomfortably nervous every single time they step onto that stage. As a young Christian, this used to frighten me beyond words. I would stand before my high school English class of less than twenty individuals, completely confident yet unable to calm my nerves or steady the frustrating quiver in my voice. I knew I was called to preach, so the thought of enduring through this psychological torment for the rest of my life was a daunting one indeed.
But that was then. As of this moment, my fear of taking the stage is completely non-existent. I can speak without fear, free from debilitating nervousness and without a trace of the dreaded quivers that use to hijack my vocal chords. While I can’t say how much of my story is transferable, I can tell you what I did to lose the nerves and get where I am today.
1) Embrace The Call
I knew as early as elementary school that I was called to preach. I never even considered anything else until I was much, much older. In my young eyes, there was no higher calling than the preaching of the Word, and why on Earth would I pursue anything but the highest calling? Accordingly, as I began to notice my issues with public speaking, it was simply a given, in my mind, that this deficiency would ultimately have to bow before my destiny. I didn’t see myself speaking timidly in my visions. Oh no! I saw myself proclaiming the Word with authority, backed by power from on High.
I embraced the call. There was no question that I was made for such a time as this. There was no question that God would make me into what was needed to fulfill the call. When I failed to successfully orate my speaking assignments time and time again throughout my high school years, instead of assuming that speaking was not my gifting, I instead assumed that my present skill set must simply represent an inferior reality. So I declared what I believed to be my actual reality.
2) Declare The Call
For six years, I declared myself to be a preacher. Anytime I was asked about my future, my response was the exact same: “I’m going to lead worship, preach, and write books.” It was a given. That was the simple reality of it in my mind. I was called to do these things, and these things were precisely what I was going to do. I pictured myself preaching and I spoke about myself as a preacher, even though I had not preached once in my entire life.
It wasn’t until the fifth year that I noticed a change. In high school, the mere thought of speaking resulted in nausea filling up the pit of my stomach. I couldn’t even imagine being on a stage without a wave of relief flooding over me that it was only a thought. But now, suddenly, I was excited at the thought of preaching. My spirit would quicken, my soul would catch fire, and even my body would awaken as visions of proclaiming Jesus captivated my soul. I had no clue if this would translate the first time I spoke, but I expected that it would, because I could no longer even fathom being nervous with the Word of God burning inside me.
3) Receive The Anointing
My first opportunity to preach came in front of about 150 youth. I had volunteered to preach at the conclusion of the service, and I was ready to go. After a brief time of preparation, the Holy Spirit had instructed me on how to engage with that night’s audience, and I felt ready as I drove to the service. When I walked through the doors, my heart sank. These were youth – as in… young people … as in high schoolers! I didn’t want to speak to youth! My visions had always been of preaching before adults. You can reason with adults. You can use your intelligence to appeal to their intellect. But you can’t reason with youth. I suddenly felt powerless as I contemplated my first time on the stage.
In that moment, the Holy Spirit spoke to me. He showed me how I had placed my confidence in my ability to connect with an audience intellectually, rather than in His Spirit to move and encounter as I spoke. I realized that my hope was not in convincing these kids of the Father, but in the confidence that my presence ushered in Father Himself, who’s Spirit will not return void. At that moment, I invited His Presence to come and saturate me, and I felt His Word burning within me. I took the stage, and I had a blast.
Over the next week, I had the privilege of speaking to around 1,500 youth and praying with over half of them to invite the Father into their lives. Every time I took the stage, I had more fun than I had previously thought possible as I spoke the Word under the Spirit’s anointing. I knew undoubtedly that I was born for this.
While I can’t assume that my experience will be uniformly transferable to everyone, I do know this: If you embrace your call, declare it, and receive the anointing to fulfill it, nothing, not even a fear of preaching, can stand in the way of your destiny.