Stage Fright

 


My two little girls love to put on “concerts” at home. They love to sing and dance, usually asking for a judge’s score at the end. It always reminds me of my childhood days when my cousins and I would put on plays for the family to watch as we all gathered at my grandparents’ home. It’s no wonder two of my cousins ended up working professionally in theatre.

As the little girls sang and put on their best dance moves a few nights back it came time for my six-year-old-boy Arli’s turn. He took to “the stage” with a big smile but then as the music started he quickly exited stage left, straight into the laundry. A few minutes later he reappeared and said: “I got stage-fright. I lacked confidence.”

After a big comforting hug, we sat for a time and talked about confidence – a word and concept he is learning about at school. As we chatted my mind went back to my early school days and to similar challenges I had as a result of a lack of self-confidence.

So much of our life is impacted by our confidence or lack of it. Ultimately as adults we are “big kids” and we can all still struggle with “stage-fright” in the midst of the circumstances of life.

We focused on this theme at our Crossway staff meeting this week, reminding ourselves of what I see as a key tipping point when it comes to confidence. Search the topic online and you will find so much material on how to build self-confidence. And yes, while this is very important in all our lives, whatever our age, I don’t think it satisfies our deepest needs.

What I have come to learn is that self-confidence only takes me so far. If I am drawing only upon my own resources, my own capacity, my own self-belief, then as I have experienced many times, my confidence bucket can quickly empty in the midst of the pressures and anxieties of life.

I could easily write a post today on, say, ten keys to building self-confidence (and I would encourage you to read more on such a helpful topic). But I am convinced that for a time such as this, with so much angst and uncertainty in our world, where at times we can feel so stretched, there is a need to dig deeper into the well of confidence.

The Letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament is written to a group of early believers who were being squeezed from all sides. They were facing persecution while trying to find their way in the faith and support each other.

In Hebrews 10 they are encouraged: “So do not throw away confident trust in the Lord” and later they are reminded: “For we are not people who shrink from our faith”.

Here is the deeper well for each of us. A well that we can draw from with confidence, not in our own strength, but with absolute confidence in a strong, loving, faithful and good God who can be trusted in all seasons of life.

We, like the Hebrews Christians 2000 years ago, are reminded to take our eyes off our circumstances and challenges and to refocus our hearts and minds on God who will never leave us; God who is here for us today – in the small and big things of life.

I was speaking to a group of leaders from across Victoria this week and was asked what helped me most to move through difficult and challenging times. Quickly these four things came to mind.
 

Prayer

Not glib words or clichéd prayers, but rather the cry of the soul, knowing that I have a robust and accessible God who is ready to hear from me and who knows better than I what I most need in life. Experience has taught me that when I feel like I can’t keep going, or when life seems uncertain and difficult, the best posture I can assume is a praying one. It may be as simple as “God help me today”, “God I need you today”, “God I can’t do this on my own anymore”. When we pray these prayers we invite God to refocus our attention. We allow the Spirit to bring assurance, peace and confidence in God.
 

People

As I shared with the leadership group this week I reflected on how God had used a small number of significant people to speak confidence, faith, worth and belief into my life, particularly during challenging seasons. Elsewhere in the Letter to the Hebrews the early believers are reminded of the importance of other people in their lives – people who serve as examples, encouragers and inspirers. Who are these people in your life? Do you need to search some more out? Do you need to dare reach out today and let another person support you in your journey? Is there someone today that God’s Spirit may be leading you to as a vessel of His confidence, love and grace?
 

Past

The third “P” that came to mind was the past. By that I mean we all have a past – we all have stories and experiences of how we have made it through tough times. I find that my resilience grows as I look back and remind myself of God’s faithfulness, of the many times that God has turned up when I faced big challenges or was about to step out of my comfort zone. We can all learn from the past. The past also weaves a confidence tapestry. We can look back and see how God has journeyed with us. We can draw on His strength in the present. We can hold onto hope for the future.
 

Perspective

It is worth noting that the writer to the Hebrews says: “Do not throw away confident trust in the Lord”. They have had this confidence. They have had this faith. They know God can be trusted. So now, faced with perhaps even bigger challenges and greater tests, they are challenged to grab their buckets and draw again from God’s well. They are reminded of the importance of perspective.

Today are you experiencing “stage-fright” in the midst of life?
Do you feel overwhelmed with the pressures of life?
Are you yearning to seize a new opportunity, but holding back because of fear?
Have you for too long drawn on your strength and capacity, but your personal well is running dry?

Today we can draw confidence from a well that will never run dry. We can stand confident in a God who is with us every step of the way. Today we can dare to take to the stage of life and play our part, knowing we are enabled by a God who wants to use us to make our unique difference in the world.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16

Scott Pilgrim