I sat with a group of beautiful women in the historic Hilltop House Restaurant in Fayetteville, NC. I was a visitor at the “Fayetteville Women’s Connection,” an outreach of Stonecroft Ministries. For the last nine months, I have been preparing to become a speaker for Stonecroft Ministries. During this time, I have written and rewritten my testimony – my story of how I came to know Jesus – to share with Stonecroft groups in the future.
The time we had all been waiting for arrived. The speaker stepped up to the podium. I was excited to hear her speak and to learn more about what a Stonecroft meeting was like. I began the meeting sitting on the edge of my seat, eager to learn.
She began her talk by engaging the audience by asking them their favorite Disney movies. Pretty soon she had us saying, when cued, “Once upon a time…” She smiled and nodded as she drew us in with her story. She was a dynamic speaker who had her thirty minute presentation completely memorized.
She had the audience wrapped around her little finger as she told the heartbreaking story of her childhood and how she came to know Jesus.
But as she told her story, all I could do was think about me, my speaking ability, and the presentation that I had written for when I would soon speak at Stonecroft meetings. And the more I thought about it and compared myself to her, the more discouraged I became. I felt woefully inadequate. I thought…
My presentation doesn’t have an audience-engaging opening.
My story is dull and boring compared to hers.
I can’t memorize my whole talk like she can.
I can’t look as professional as her.
The audience won’t like me as much as they like her.
I’m going to put my audience to sleep.
By the time she had finished speaking, I was ready to quit before I had even begun.
After her talk, as I mingled with the guests, they kindly told me that they couldn’t wait to hear me speak at one of their meetings. And I was embarrassed because I knew that my talk would never compare to the flawless, moving presentation they had just seen. Compared to what looked like perfection, I knew I would be a disappointment.
As I pondered my feelings over the next few days, I recognized that my insecurity was trying to shut me down, discourage me, and make me quit. Doesn’t this happen to all of us?
We have a creative idea at work and we are afraid to share it.
Our dream is to open a coffee shop but we are sure we would fail.
We want to tell our neighbor about Jesus but we are sure we would not use the right words.
We want to start a ministry but we lack the skills.
We desire to homeschool our children but we are sure we would fail.
We feel less than, not good enough, and sure to be a disappointment.
If God has given you a desire, a dream, or a ministry, the enemy is sure to shut it down. Fast. He will lie, cheat, and steal to keep you from doing it. He will make you feel inadequate and unable and insecure. He will use comparison to make everyone else seem like the best and that you are definitely the worst.
But what’s the truth? Ephesians 2:10 says that we are God’s workmanship, created for good works in Christ. If God has put within you a desire, dream, or ministry, He doesn’t leave you empty-handed. He helps you. He gives you creative ideas, strategies, and wisdom. He directs your steps and connects you with those who can assist you. He empowers you with the ability to do what He has called you to do.
He gives you courage to present your idea at work.
He gives you divine favor to open up your coffee shop.
He shows you how to share Jesus with your neighbor.
He leads you in how to start a ministry.
He speaks through you when you give your talk.
He helps you to homeschool your children.
He’s behind you, propelling you, supporting you, strengthening you, and making you successful. God doesn’t set you up for failure but prepares you for success.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jer. 29:11 NIV
At the end of the Stonecroft meeting, I found the speaker alone and approached her. Awestruck, I told her what an amazing job she did. Then, I asked how long she had been speaking for Stonecroft.
Relief rushed into my discouraged soul that maybe there was hope for me after all! In twelve years, I could be that polished, too!
I know that when my turn to speak comes, I won’t be standing up at the front alone, but God will be standing with me, engaging my audience, telling my story, and bringing glory not to me, but to Him.
I can’t wait.
Note: The picture is of my beautiful friend and fellow Stonecroft speaker Susan Ely, not the actual speaker at the Fayetteville meeting. Thanks, Susan, for letting me use your picture, and for being a wonderful Stonecroft trainer!