It really isn’t scary at all, but many people are petrified when they are called upon to give an announcement, give a little speech, or sing a song in front of a group of people.
The other day I was contacted with a request for help. Let me change her name and call her Linda, to protect her identity.
“I need help and I need prayer,” Linda started. “I am speaking, sharing and singing at a conference, tomorrow, and I have not sung in many years, it’s such a hard song. I am scared I forget what I’m going to say when I speak in front of them .... I normally look at the wall behind the people when I sing .... well, please just pray that GOD will possess me tomorrow and flow.. and for me to be obedient .... I wish you could go instead of me!”
It is true that I do not think twice about speaking in front of large groups of people, in fact I get a buzz out of it. I love connecting with my audience. I hate being stuck behind a podium with an immovable microphone, I love to walk about, into the audience and connect with them. I guess, after more than 28 years in the ministry that is probably to be expected. There was a time in my life, however, when I felt just like Linda, actually worse.
Nothing of the sort was planned by me, I literally stumbled into ministry when I inadvertently pioneered and pastored a small multicultural church in my living room in Hong Kong. I had no intentions for that to happen; yes, I was passionate about God and His Word, and especially about the Holy Spirit.
All I did was share what I had learnt with a few friends, then they told their friends, who told their friends, etc.
Then there came a time when we had actually out grown our very spacious living room and had to hire a hall.
Thankfully, I had befriended a minister from the Kenneth Copeland Ministries who decided to help me. He clearly saw that I was called into ministry, but he also saw that I completely froze with fear standing in front of a growing congregation, now transitioning into a hall. I was in such a bad shape at that time! When I walked up to the pulpit my brain turned into mush and the information supposedly to be shared looked more like a grey fuzzy TV screen without a signal, my body would shake and somehow I forgot how to walk or stand. I could not even remember the names of my closest friends .....
My dear friend from KCM connected me to the “Dale Carnegie Course: Effective Communications & Human Relations”. I very highly recommend this course. It made a huge difference; I even wound up assisting on the Course after graduating from mine. I must say, I personally even preferred this Dale Carnegy course to the “Zig Ziglar ‘Effective Presentations’ Course”, also a most excellent and highly recommendable course, which I took at a later point.
None-the-less, there came a time when I truly freaked out again, close to fainting .... no exaggeration.
Reason? One, I was thrust a microphone into my hands by an international keynote speaker at a packed out conference with rows of ministers and bishops sitting on the platform, and two, I was to speak in front of the seasoned minister who had ordained me into ministry.
I felt totally pitifully inadequate in front of people who I admired and respected, way senior to me, experienced, seasoned, not only in presenting the Gospel message but also in their walk with Christ.
Who was I? They’d look at me and think, ‘where’s the anointing?’ I woud never be good enough or even acceptable. The fear of rejection raised its ugly head again ... a fear I was well experienced to.
I grew up in a family where just about everyone was an academic, with lawyers, doctors, etc. My own father was a scientist, published author, who was used to speaking at symposiums, and of course to the students at his university. My mother was a very ambitious pharmacist, and in her eyes, I had always been an embarrassment to the family, a failure, never good enough for anything really.
So, now this was haunting me again, as I was to speak in front of those dignified men and women in ministry. I felt like I had nothing to give.
But God turned it into a ‘Moses Moment’. Just like He asked Moses, “What do you have in your hands?” I felt that He was inquiring, “What have I wrought in your life? What seeds, whatever small you perceive them to be, do you have that you can now sow? What gift is in your life which you can now give away, that would meet the needs of those before you?”
That was the very turning point in my life. I looked at those in front of me through a different set of eyes, eyes of compassion, seeing needs that only God through me could meet.
“Share from your heart,” I said to Linda, “connect with just one person at a time, then it all flows out naturally like you're talking to a friend. Imagine that they are the only person in the room and you really want to share something that will so bless them.
“See, You are not important, but the ones you want to bless, are. So, take the focus completely off you. When you forget about yourself, all of a sudden the others become important and you're no longer self-conscious and scared.
“When you defocus from you, when you stop being self-conscious and focus on the others and their needs instead, when it does not matter any longer if you croak instead of sing, but when you have a message that you are passionate to give, surrendered to Him, then He can fill that with Himself, and it will meet the needs of others.”
Linda was still on some sort of a “scaredy-cat-rollercoaster” when she blurted out, “Yeah, but the original artist who sung that song, her voice and everything is just so amazing and so much better than me ..... I, just want to be perfect in order to bless them! ....”
“Well, she is a trained singer, for starters,” I replied, “I applaud anyone who pays the price for rigorous training and becoming the best they can be. Yes, she is a singer of highest calibre, but she won’t be there, she will not reach the people tomorrow, you will! When you connect with the hearts of people, when you connect with their needs, you only need to say one word, sing one tone, and it is explosive.
“Rather than needing to be perfect with your song, close your eyes and imagining reaching out to one or several people through your song. Think why they are there. They’ll come, not to hear a great singer, performer, speaker (... in life there will always be someone perceived to be 'better' than you ...), the people, your audience, are there because there are needs in their hearts and life, and they are hoping that God through you will meet that need.
“See, it's all about connecting with the heart. If you really connect and minister to their needs, then people are so concerned with what’s going on inside of them, that they won't even notice if your tone and pitch is not perfect or whatever.
Now, I am not saying that this gives you licence to be awful and distract those listening from hearing the Spirit of God. The Bible does say,
“Be diligent and study to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
Do what it takes to be the best you can be at any specific time in your life, but then lay aside the need for perfection, which so often comes from a motivation of avoiding perceived rejection, which leaves the spotlight on You, how you come across, and how you are perceived, it’s feeding on your need to be loved and accepted by the audience, on your insecurities. When you thus focus on yourself whilst attempting to minister to others, you actually rob them of a heart connection and blessing.
So, let’s talk about some practicals, how do you connect with your audience?
Do your home work first. Know your audience and their needs. Pray, study, research, pray, practice, oh ... did I say pray?
Close your eyes, and become still.
Then with your closed eyes, by faith, allow His Love for them to rise up in you; intensify that love like it was a matter of life and death (it just may be, you never know!).
Enter into His rest whilst stirring up His Love for them in you.
Feel His heart for the precious people in front of you. It does not matter how big and ugly they are, they have wounds and needs that only His love can reach. Let His passion and love for them burn inside of you.
When you're in that space, open your eyes and let it flow and pour out, and enjoy the ride as He touches the innermost hidden crevices of the hearts of the ones He so loves.
In His Love,
© Copyright Angelika Regina Heimann. 2009. All Rights Reserved
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