When you don’t know what to say.

public speaking

How do you feel about public speaking?  My full time job is managing up to 100 volunteers at a time, I have spoken and taught in front of thousands, and for some reason getting up in front of people is no big deal to me.  My husband, however, feels the exact opposite.  He is the outgoing, social butterfly of the two of us, but anytime there are more than eight or so people gathered, he gets uncomfortable.  If I were going to share the Gospel, I would prefer a crowd.  He would prefer one-on-one.  God truly makes unique individuals!

Interestingly enough, we both have comfort zones – specifically in sharing our personal faith – and we both feel uncomfortable when out of them.  I get so nervous anytime I get the opportunity to share the Gospel one-on-one, but share it twice a day with fifty people at a time.  He would rather do anything else than speak to a large group, but he is quite possibly the most bold person I know in small settings.

What is your comfort zone?  And what is your go-to excuse when trying to stay in it?  Do you remember Moses?  His mother spared his life when the Egyptians were forcing all male babies to be murdered (an his brother’s as well), but when she could not hide him anymore, she put him in a basket and Pharaoh’s daughter found him and raised him as her own.  He knew he was a Hebrew, he killed an Egyptian for abusing Hebrews and then fled for his life when the matter became known.  While he was in hiding, 40 years later, God came and called him to be His mouthpiece and point person in dealing with Pharaoh.  God had a plan:  He wanted to exemplify His power through plagues and signs, and after killing Pharaoh’s eldest son, the Hebrew people would be released from Egypt.

God told Moses all of this before he ever stepped foot on Egyptian land.  Even so, after seeing the burning bush, after witnessing the first three miracles, and after speaking to God face to face, Moses objected:

Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

– Ex 4.10

Three times Moses objected.  God’s response is beautiful:

The Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth?  Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind?  Is it not I, the Lord?  Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.”

– Ex 4.11-12

God began with an assertion of His power and sovereignty.  He Himself created man’s mouth.  We each only have mouths and tools for communication because God gave them to us.  He also is sovereign over the ability to speak and the ability to see.  He enables us to utilize our mouths and eyes.  Therefore, since He is the one who created mouths, since He is the one who is sovereign over mankind’s ability to speak, Moses should submit to Him.  And not only that, but He promised to give Moses the very words.  He should also trust God.  Obedience and Faith, in perfect harmony.

Moses, however, still refused:

But he said, “Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will.”

– Ex 4.13

Do you know what the result was?  God became angry at Moses.

“Then the anger of the Lord burned against Moses, and He said, ‘Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know thathe speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.  You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do.  Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him.'”

– Ex 4.14-16

God was angry at Moses, and gave Moses what he wanted – but Moses was the one who suffered for it.  God still chose to use him, and he is still known as a great patriarch, but Aaron got half of the role.  He was the point person to Pharaoh and the Hebrew people.  His staff is the one that was forever saved in the Ark of the Covenant.

Moses considered himself slow and not eloquent of speech.  He did not want to get up in front of Pharaoh or in front of a crowd, even though God promised to give him the very words he would speak, and He gave him the power to work miracles.  Do you think you would be willing to get out of your comfort zone if you could turn your cane into a snake?  Or turn water into blood?  I would think that power would enforce a sense of authority, but I don’t mind public speaking.

This might sound like an interesting story, but what is the application for us?  Thankfully, Jesus gives the same promise to the disciples, church and us when we are in our moment of persecution and need:

“But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.  But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say.  For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”

– Matt 10.17-20

Not only does Jesus promise to tell us that we will have the words, He promises that the Holy Spirit will speak through us in those moments.  He will bring thoughts and verses to mind that we never expected.  He will give us the wisdom in those moments.

The other application is terrifying.  God set Moses apart for a wonderful task, and he rejected it, in part.  God got angry at him, and went about His plan without Moses in that role.  The take home is simple:  God’s plan will not be thwarted.  We can go deeper into the intricacies of God’s sovereign knowledge of our refusal and the fact that He already knew Aaron would be the mouthpiece, but Moses’ refusal still resulted in his missing out.

God is going to take His Gospel to every people group in the world.  He has commanded us all to go, and be a part of it.  If we refuse to go, He will accomplish His goal without us, but we will miss out on the blessing, and not only that but when we stand before Him we will have to give an account for our disobedience.  Are you prepared to give your excuse?

God will ask us to do things that are outside of our comfort zone.  He will ask me to share the Gospel with people in one-on-one settings.  He will ask my husband to speak up in a big group setting.  He will take us across the street, across the city, maybe even across the world.  But He will always go with us, He will never forsake us, and He will give us the words to say through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who indwells us.

So let’s trust Him today.  When you find yourself in a conversation or situation that is outside of your comfort zone, say a prayer.  Ask the Holy Spirit to speak through you.  And trust God to get you through that uncomfortable situation.  You may never adapt to like or enjoy those types of situations.  You may still get nervous every. single. time.  But thankfully, we can rely on the promise that God will do the work through us, and He will bring about the fruit.  All we have to do is obey and have faith!