Too scared to preach

When I was a student at TCU I developed an intense fear of public speaking. You may find that hard to believe. But I got light headed and felt like passing out when I had to speak in front of people. When my minister asked me to preach on college Sunday I accepted immediately. But as that Sunday got closer I was overwhelmed with fear. I could not sleep. What if I look stupid? What if I forget to wear pants? What if I pass out?

So, a few days before Sunday, I picked up the phone to back out. But before I could finish dialing, my roommate grabbed the phone out of my hand. He slammed it down and told me I was going to preach on Sunday. “If you don’t preach on Sunday you might never preach.  That’s what God wants you to do. Just do it.”

Well I did preach that Sunday. I did not pass out. I did not forget my pants. I was a wreck on the inside.  But somehow I got through it. It wasn’t half bad either, and I learned a big lesson that day. When God calls us to do something for him we’ve got to expect that he’s going to stretch us. He’s going to push us out beyond our comfort zones. He’s going to ask us to do things that will scare us.

What scares me now is thinking about what would have happened if I backed out.  I don’t think I would have become a minister if I had made that call. The decision to grow always involves a choice between risk and comfort. What is God asking you to say “yes” to that’s making your head light and your palms sweaty? Those risking taking moments are thin places when God becomes real too.

Sunday I’m preaching on Matthew 14:25-32.  It’s about a scary moment when Peter takes a huge risk and almost drowns.

See you Sunday,


PS. Everybody needs a friend that hangs up the phone and says “you can do this.” This morning my heart is filled with affection and gratitude for my college roommate and life-long friend Jeff Howell.