Whether it’s just nervous jitters or just thinking about delivering a sermon brings you out in a cold sweat, you’re at the right place.
Today we’re going to tackle the fear of preaching head on. It’s time to beat those pre-preaching palpitations once and for all.
Are you ready?
Let’s start by defining our enemy.
The fear of preaching or public speaking more generally can be a type of phobia in extreme cases that goes by the name Glossophobia.
According to Wikipedia Glossophobia is:
“A speech anxiety, stage fright or fear of public speaking. The word glossophobia derives from the Greek γλῶσσα glōssa, meaning tongue, and φόβος phobos, fear or dread. “
The fear of preaching affects more people than you might think…
Research suggests up to 7% of people in the US Americans have a fear of public speaking; that’s about 27 million Americans!
The idea of standing on that stage up, front and centre with every eye ball staring at you there in front of everyone is enough to make your palms sweat and your knees quiver.
It’s enough to shoot a million negative thoughts through your mind a 100 miles per hour like:
- What if I’m just not good enough?”
- They’re going to judge me
- What if I fail miserably?
- I don’t want to disappoint the people who have made the effort to come
- What if people laugh and ridicule me?
- What if they fall asleep half way through the sermon?
- I have nothing new to say – haven’t they heard it all before?
But what causes this nervous fear? Where does this anxiety come from?
I believe at the root, the fear of preaching can be broken down into two categories; the fear of not being good enough and the fear of what people might think.
Let’s look at these two types of fear in more depth and talk about how you can overcome them.
1. Fear of not being good enough
This is the feeling of insecurity, of comparing yourself to others and being inadequate. It’s that little voice that tells you you haven’t got what it takes.
It’s easy to watch other preachers sharing deep biblical truths from the pulpit so skillfully and effortlessly and think you could never speak like that.
If this is something you suffer from, keep reading because I have great news…
How you overcome it
What you haven’t seen is the hours of planning and preparation they’ve had to put in. They’ve paid a price to get to that level of skill and proficiency.
It’s a complete myth that some people are just born better preachers or great sermons happen by accident.
The better you prepare, the better you present. Period.
Isn’t this empowering?
It means there’s a way you can preach great sermons with confidence every time.
By turning the fear of preaching into an advantage.
You can channel what I like to call that ‘happily-terrified’ feeling and all that nervous energy into your sermon preparation.
Use it to fuel your study, prayer and write your sermon outline.
Imagine that feeling of not being good enough simply evaporating as you head up to the pulpit because you’ve taken the time to study, you have a clear sermon outline, you’ve practiced and prepared well and know that God is going to speak through you.
2 Timothy 2:15 promises if we study well, we need not feel ashamed:
“Study to show yourself approved by God, a workman who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
I believe every preacher should have 1 Timothy 4:13-15 taped to their wall:
“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. . . . Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them so that everyone may see your progress.”
Did you catch that?
I love it – God is calling you to study and develop yourself as a preacher, in order to show progress in front of the church, not perfection.
Now you don’t need to worry about not being good enough – perfection is not required.
Doesn’t that help take the pressure off?!
But if you’re serious about learning how to preach great sermons definitely check out Preaching Rocket.
It’s a full online step-by-step training course and community of 1000’s of other preachers who help each other become the best preachers they can be.
2. Fear of what people think
Nothing paralyses faster than the confidence-zapping idea that everyone in the church is going to be sitting there judging you, critiquing your every word.
Deep down you know in reality, the vast majority of people listening to your sermon are on your side; they’re cheering you on, wanting you to do well, but that does little to snuff out the little fear monsters.
How you overcome it
In How to Preach a Sermon For Beginners I talk about how the prospect of preaching for the first time can be nerve racking and what helped me massively when I was starting out was when I heard someone say:
“The message is more important than you are.”
This always stuck with me. I anchor myself to this statement whenever I feel anxiety trying to get a foothold in my mind.
You see, you are not the focus here. When you are nervous about what people think of you as you deliver your sermon it means you’re thinking too much about yourself.
That’s a bit harsh right? But honestly that’s what’s happening.
You’re thinking about what people will think or say about you.
You’re worried people won’t like you.
You’re scared they won’t think you are interesting enough.
You see? You are too focused on what others think of you.
Preaching has become all about you.
The best solution to overcome this kind of fear is to take the focus off of yourself and instead look to God. That way you’ll have the proper perspective.
Listen to how Paul puts it in Galatians 1:10:
“Am I now trying to win the favor and approval of men, or of God? Or am I seeking to please someone? If I were still trying to be popular with men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”
It’s not about being a people-pleaser, desperately scrambling around trying to get everyone to like you. Not at all. It’s about being more concerned with that God thinks.
What is the message God wants to get across through the sermon?
What does God want to say to his children?
This is God’s Word (which never comes back void by the way) and God’s people; it’s not about you, it’s all about God.
So find your strength and confidence in the knowledge that the Word of God is more than enough to accomplish the work of God in the people of God.
This truth will free you up to worry less and preach fear-free.
Want a simple sermon system that will help you preach with confidence?
The truth is sermon prep is one of most stressful things we do as church leaders…
We spend countless hours alone struggling to come up with original and inspiring messages week after week and if we’re honest are sermons are hit and miss at best.
Because even though preaching is the biggest determining factor for church growth, we’ve never actually taken the time to learn how to effectively plan and present sermons.
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