Public speaking is terrifying. To express this more strongly: anything that puts me at the center of attention in a room full of people makes my stomach literally sick, leaves my mouth dry and my brain void of logical thought. If you’ve seen me and think I handled it just fine, don’t be fooled! It was a charade!
I have a vivid memory of participating in a public speaking contest when I was in 4th grade. The memory is so traumatic that I can close my eyes and remember the little details – I can see the podium with my awkwardly tall self behind it; newly permed hair, big glasses and flowery purple dress. (Funny story – though filled with terror, I actually won the contest! I must have practiced enough to hide my fear from the judges!)
My 7-year-old sang in church last Sunday. He sang a sweet version of Jesus of Loves Me with his Daddy playing guitar and his Aunt singing backup. It was so beautiful and I was so very proud of him. He stood there with such confidence and sang these words that are truth for him. I don’t think he was nervous – though I was actually nervous for him. (Not sure what I was nervous about – it’s not like those in attendance at church that morning made a threatening audience!)
My son seems quite comfortable to simply say what he believes to be true, not worrying what others might think. Maybe he gets nervous but is able to hide it? Maybe he’s not old enough to be so sensitive to the reactions of others? I desperately hope that my irrational, inhibiting fear does not pass to him or his sister!
My husband received an email from my son’s kindergarten PE teacher last Spring. The teacher wanted to share with us a short story about what my son had said in PE that day. They were talking about the heart. The teacher asked the kids, “What are some things that are not good for your heart?” He was looking for answers like eating greasy food, not exercising, smoking.
But my dear son raised his hand and answered, “Not loving Jesus.”
I love this kid so much.
Without a second thought or concern for what his classmates might think, he spoke his truth!
It will become more difficult. Kids are mean; adults are mean! After you’ve been judged or ridiculed for what you say or do, you start to think twice before opening your mouth. At least I do. I pray my kids can be immune to that! I pray my kids trust God to be present and develop a thick skin – and continue to speak (or sing!) their truth without fear!!
Jesus said: “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” Luke 12:8-12