Early in my speaking ministry, I did an event with an unexpected outcome. It started like any other with a room full of warm, chatty women. After I spoke, though, the atmosphere was subdued. Women hardly looked at me as they left. The previously enthusiastic coordinator didn’t have much to say.
“What just happened?!” I thought.
I went back through the evening trying to figure it out. While I was speaking, I didn’t think it was bad. Did I step over a theological line? Had I unknowingly said something offensive? Were the women disappointed to come hear such a green speaker? I picked apart, I agonized, and I fretted, but I never did find out what had happened that night.
Doubt crept in.
“Maybe I’m not cut out for this.” “Maybe I thought I was called but I’m not.” “Maybe I’m too inexperienced, or maybe my skin just isn’t thick enough.” Those were some of the thoughts that ran through my head and settled in my heart.
How do we battle misgivings? What do we do when we’re drowning in doubt? Here are a few ways to fight doubt and win:
Study the craft. One important way to build (or rebuild!) your confidence is to hone your craft. Speaking is a craft to be learned like any other. Just because we can talk doesn’t mean we can speak, but everyone can learn to be a better speaker. That’s right. I said everyone. I truly believe that someone who has little gifting can become a good speaker. Those with gifting can become great.
There are resources for speakers in every stage of ministry and at every price point. Free–search for free webinars, read blogs, and watch TED Talks for excellent examples of speaking. Inexpensive–Read books. Two of my favorite are Resonate by Nancy Duarte and Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley. An investment–Go to a conference and/or hire a speaking coach.
Surround yourself with the right people. You need 3 types of people on the ministry journey with you. You need encouragers, those who love you and will always find the best in you. You need pushers, those who see more in you than you see in yourself and will shove you into the uncomfortable places (more on this person in another post. They may not be your favorite folks at times, but I’m convinced they’re necessary!!). And you need truth-tellers, those who love you madly but will tell you in a skinny minute when you’re wrong, in sin, or off base.
Surrender to not being enough. The root of doubt is often self-sufficiency. When I love God and the women in the room, God shows Himself sufficient, and His presence erases doubt.
What do you do when you struggle with doubt? Do you have a secret I’ve left out?