How can I share my testimony if I have a fear of public speaking?
Last year, I was put in charge of games for our cell group’s Christmas gathering.
I was relieved, thinking that since I was already assigned a role, I wouldn’t have to share a testimony.
See, my number one fear and weakness is public speaking. I dislike being in front of an audience and having all the attention on me.
Lo and behold, my pastor asked me to share my testimony during the gathering. My first reaction was to laugh and think: “Good job, Corinna, you thought you could escape!”
But one thing I’ve come to learn in life is that the more I want to escape or avoid something out of fear, the more God leads me to face it head on.
So I accepted it and happily wrote my testimony. After all, I was glad that I’d be sharing it in a conversational manner over lunch.
THE STORY GROWS
Maybe I passed this “test” a little too well, because I received a follow-up text from my pastor asking me to share my testimony on Sunday as well during the Christmas service.
I found I had no choice but to say okay. “No choice” not because I was afraid, but because I wanted to submit to my authority and also because I saw that this was a good thing to do for God.
I didn’t have a valid reason to turn it down. So I said yes, relieved that I would just be reading the same testimony I had already drafted for Saturday.
I figured I would swiftly get it done and be off the stage in a few minutes.
However, the testing didn’t stop there! My pastor called to inform me that I needed to arrive an hour early on Sunday to rehearse my testimony with the interpreter.
Okay, no big deal about that. But then she told me it would be a line-by-line interpretation and I froze. That meant one thing to me – I would be on stage for twice the amount of time.
All I could think about was how awkward it would be to stand there staring at the audience while waiting for the translator.
But I had no say in this because this is the way our English-Chinese combined services are run. So I took a deep breath and accepted it again.
Yet the testing continued.
My pastor returned my edited testimony with feedback. She wanted me to add in a whole bunch of things that I’d deliberately left out as I felt they weren’t that significant in my encounter with God.
But she felt they were impactful and that I should include it anyway. This meant one thing to me: my time on stage in front of everyone would be prolonged again.
Each time before I said yes to my pastor, I found myself wanting to do so in a grudging and spiteful manner until God gave me the peace in my heart to deal with my negative emotions.
This time I really felt like crying. I told God: “Isn’t there enough testing already? I’ve already acceded to everything before and yet it just keeps getting more and more extreme.”
I know you might find my struggle silly or that I’m a drama queen exaggerating things, but for someone with a fear of public speaking, it was honestly a bit much.
Yet in my heart of hearts, I recognised the call that God has for my life is to speak for Him.
And if I could not even manage such a simple testimony, read off a script for ten minutes on stage, how in the world would I speak for Him?
THE BIG DAY
On Saturday night, I prayed and told God about my nervousness. I broke down in tears, baring my heart to Him.
I told Him I couldn’t quite reconcile why I had to “suffer” this uneasiness and anxiety for a whole week even after I’d accepted and willed myself to obey.
I couldn’t be joyful and relaxed the entire week and I didn’t like that (the devil was stealing my peace).
Sunday morning came and I was calm, though the rehearsal triggered my nerves a little when my pastor told me to inject more emotion in my sharing and proceeded to demonstrate in a way that was beyond my ability.
I panicked for a bit, then prayed and told God about it. I then came to a peaceful conclusion that I’d just be myself. I didn’t have to copy her way of speaking but I’d still obey her and try my best to be more emotive.
All through worship I was completely calm and at peace – excited even.
I could feel the nervousness radiating off the uncle standing beside me. He was also going to share his testimony after me.
Then, towards the end of worship, I felt the nerves coming back. But my heart was still at peace, it was just an involuntary bodily response which made my stomach churn.
Once again, I prayed and looked to God. When I was called to go up on stage, I went up excitedly, with the joy of the Lord flowing through my veins. I shared earnestly and coherently. I shared joyfully.
From a face in the crowd to one the crowd faces.
At the end, my pastor affirmed God’s transformational power in my life – shy and timid Corinna would never have been able to speak on stage by her own strength. But God gave her courage.
As I look back on all my struggles, I simply couldn’t have done it without God.
“From a face in the crowd to one the crowd faces.” That was the motto in my secondary school, Singapore Chinese Girls’ School.
For a long time, I loved being just a face in the crowd. But now, when God calls, I am willing to be the one the crowd faces – by God’s joy, peace and strength!
THINK + TALK
- What’s your greatest fear?
- Does that fear hinder you from serving God in any way?
- What is one way you might submit this fear to God and step out in faith this week?