Thursday, May 29, 2014

Public Speaking? I Think I'd Rather Die

“O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” (Exodus 4:10-11)

     Last week, I traveled to Las Vegas to attend my company’s first annual Spring Symposium for Today’s Dietitian magazine, a two-day event that included several continuing education sessions presented by highly acclaimed nutrition professionals in the dietetics field. I was asked to introduce some of these presenters each day and host a panel discussion of prominent RDs about the value of speaking and writing in their field. My first reaction was “Oh no, I don’t like public speaking. I get too nervous; I stumble and stammer over my words. Oh my goodness!”
     Then I remembered the panel discussion I participated in last year at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in Houston. I was just as nervous of the thought of speaking in front of an audience, but once I started talking I was fine and I really enjoyed the experience. So I said to myself, “OK, if I enjoyed last year’s panel discussion maybe I’ll enjoy introducing some of the speakers and hosting the panel discussion.
     Here I was again relating to how Moses felt when the Lord commanded him to confront Pharaoh and demand he set the Israelites free from slavery. Moses was concerned about the very same thing I was concerned about. He was afraid of speaking to Pharaoh and what the Egyptians would think of him just as I was afraid of speaking in front of 275-plus nutrition professionals. Yikes! I was afraid of stuttering and worrying what they might think of me.
     Some people aren’t afraid of public speaking. They can stand in front of an audience with ease and give a wonderful presentation. But I’m not one of those people. So I prayed and asked God to take away my fear and give me a deep sense of peace that transcends all understanding and to guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. He promised to be with me and give me the words to speak, so I trusted Him in that and everything went well. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be, and I didn’t stumble and stammer over my words. In fact, the presenters liked how I introduced them, and one of them invited me to speak with her on another panel discussion she wants to host next year at a national nutrition conference. I said “I’d love to.”
     I’ve come to learn that whenever you ask for the Lord’s presence and His peace, he answers pretty much immediately. He promises to keep you in perfect peace if you believe Him and your mind is focused on Him. So whatever you may be facing that you’re deathly afraid of, just bow your head, ask for His presence, power, strength, peace, and Holy Spirit to be poured out on you. Meditate on scripture about fear and a promise that speaks to your situation. And believe me, God will answer—and people will take notice. They’ll notice there’s something special about you. They won’t be able to put their finger on it, but you’ll know it’s the Lord’s favor, a display of His glory.
     I’m not sure what God is doing in my professional career, but He’s surely stretching me and my faith in ways I’m not expecting. He seems to be elevating me by thrusting me into the spotlight. He knows I’m nervous about being in the spotlight, but He has me doing it anyway, and He’s right there with me. He assures me there’s no reason to be afraid, and He’s right. May I praise His holy name!
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