It wasn’t always so easy for me to stand in front of a large room full of people with their eyes on me.
I remember a very pivotal moment that was a major turning point in my being absolutely terrified, to being not so scared. It’s been more than a decade since then.
It was late at night. My heart was pounding ferociously. The rhythms of my breath were inconsistent and short. My thoughts were racing. My stomach was in knots. I wanted to cry.
I. was. so. scared.
Lying in bed with dragon-sized butterflies galavanting around my insides, I found myself wide awake. No matter how much I tried, my nerves were keeping my mind alert and my eyes were wide open. The fear was beginning to overtake me as I tossed and turned, wrestling with the blankets and trying desperately to stop thinking about this seemingly enormous task I was faced with.
The reality was starting to hit me smack dab in the face that a few hours earlier I was asked to start preparing. In less than a week I would stand in front of a huge room full of people with their eyes on me and actually open my mouth and let something escape. I couldn’t believe I had been asked to lead an entire worship set in front of all those people. Something I had never ever done.
Here I was, fresh out of high school and seriously SERIOUSLY shy. Unlike most teen girls, I hated being the center of attention, and definitely did not know how to lead hundreds of people in worship on my own. Why in the heavens above were they asking me to lead an entire worship set?!
Do you know how many worship leaders there are in the world? Can you imagine how many singers there were in that room? And I can tell you firsthand—any of them would have been more eager to lead than I was. Don’t get me wrong—worship was my passion. It is my passion. But those first steps brought much more anxiety than they did life.
And let’s not forget about the organization that this leadership took. Songs, and words, and musicians—oh my. There was lot to consider. What if I bomb? What if I forget the words? Oh Lord—what if I trip and fall? What if I walk up on this stage as the girl who wanted to, but exit as the girl that couldn’t?
No way. I needed a plan.
What if instead of “couldn’t” I just … didn’t?
I wasn’t “THE” leader, after all. Basically this is just a “volunteer” effort. I mean, what if I got sick? They’d have to find someone else! If my car stalled? They’d be fine! So surely THE leader would understand that
I was sick, my car broke down, I just couldn’t.
I would simply let the worship leader know that I was not ready for something like this yet. He’d understand. Simple. Done. Not doing it. And that was that. All the butterflies scurried away. My heartbeat went back to normal. I could finally start to breathe again. And at 2:00 a.m. I was finally calm enough to go to sleep.
The next morning, all was well. I had my plan in place. I knew exactly the time and place I’d break the news to the worship leader, who believed in me enough to ask me to do this in the first place. I had it all figured out.
In the middle of my confident decision to be responsible, and tell the leader that I couldn’t do it, there seemed to be this quiet, kind, loving, gentle prompting that kept whispering to my heart. It didn’t seem angry at me. It didn’t seem disappointed. It wasn’t smothering me with guilt. It was just this little… thing.
A thing that gently, and somehow without words, reminded me that even though I had made a confident decision not to fulfill this great task, there was still something uniquely special on the inside of me. And someone needed it.
No matter how badly I didn’t want to do it, the pull to give God my absolute best just kept growing.
Deep down inside of me was a relentless tug to utilize the spirit of worship that was almost overwhelmingly placed in my heart. It’s like there was an enormous, Mt. Everest-sized mountain telling me there was no way I could do it, but next to that was a tiny little ant hill telling me “Yes you can. And you will.” And though that ant hill was small and seemingly insignificant, quite the opposite was true. Because that tiny little hill was quietly strong enough to keep the sense of urgency alive in my heart.
Literally about an hour before I planned to tell the worship leader that I would not be fulfilling the assignment he had placed in my hands, I was stopped in my tracks.
A prompt that I had not really experienced before.
In that moment, a light bulb switched on.
“Stop letting what people will think, keep you in a box” I heard Him gently hum in my heart.
There were so many voices telling me not to, but I decided to press on instead of backing out. The fear had not gone away. I was still scared. But I made a decision in that moment that if I was ever going to step out and answer the call, I was going to have to do it even though it meant doing it afraid.
Maybe my voice would shake. Maybe I’d say something crazy. Maybe I’d give the wrong signal to the musicians and everything would come to a crashing halt like a bowling ball in a glass room.
But maybe it wouldn’t. Only time would tell, and if I’d never do it, then I’d never find out.
The day came. The moment arrived.
There was no reconsidering. I had said YES to this task, committed it to the Lord, and all that was left to do, after all of that, was just…. doing it.
In that little flicker of a moment, just before I opened my mouth, something happened. The weight of fear sort of, lifted. The why behind what I was doing, began to overshadow the actual logistics of the “task” itself. And in that moment, almost effortlessly, I just began to walk out this amazingly beautiful assignment that God had entrusted to me. I could sense His hand guiding me. I could sense His grace covering me. And I could sense His power flowing through me.
I didn’t fall on my face, or stumble over my words, or do anything crazy that would have warranted total regret of this decision. Everything just, flowed.
Words cannot describe what took place in that service that day. The atmosphere was electric, lives were changed, and hearts were touched. From the first word that left my lips, there was a boldness in my heart that I had never experienced before. It was like a little sneak peek from God, saying that He knew exactly what He was doing, and He was not limited by the people I was ministering to, nor was He be limited by my fears.
Because while fear was happening on the inside, boldness like a lion was manifesting on the outside.
Everything wasn’t perfect, but it sure was amazing, and that one act of stepping out positioned me to walk in many more life-changing moments of worship leadership in the many years that have followed.
Nowadays I can stand before 5 or 5,000 and do whatever is being asked of me. Nervous flutters may be present, but never strong enough to make me shrink back in fear. All it takes is courage enough to do it. Even if that means doing it afraid.
Have you ever had to do something even though you were terribly afraid? What was the outcome?? Comment below!
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PS. These photos are recent, as I really don’t have any from way back then on hand. That was before we took fifty-thousand pictures a day on our smart phones!!