All eyes are on you. Staring. Waiting for you to say something. Many people are sweating just thinking about it. It’s worse than a horror movie. Speaking in front of people is still one of the most common fears for people. You may not go so far as to say that you are afraid to speak in front of people, but it’s likely that you do get nervous before preaching. Is there any remedy for this? I believe so.
I think its natural to get butterflies before you preach. But nervous? I don’t know that nervousness has to be a part of it. I think there are some remedies you can implement that will help you overcome the nervousness you experience before preaching. Here they are…
1. Prepare Well
When you’re prepared and you’ve done the hard work of knowing your material, your level of nervousness should go down. We’ve talked about the importance of this when talking about connecting with the audience, because if you’ve done the hard work of preparation, you won’t have to focus as much on your notes.
When you are prepared well, you are focused not on your notes, but on the people you are preaching to. As Andy Stanley often reminds us, we should “teach people the Bible” not “teach the Bible to people.” What’s the difference? The focus of each phrase.
I’m sure you know the feeling of being unprepared. It’s stressful. On one hand you’re depending on God even more than normal, on the other hand you’re staring at your notes extra or getting off track.
Want to get rid of nervousness? It begins with preparing well. Do the work. Struggling with being in a creative funk? Try these 5 things and get out of the funk.
2. Modify Your Focus
When you get nervous before you preach, your focus is on yourself. You’re focused on what you will say, what people will think of you, and whether or not you will deliver the goods. It’s easy to become nervous and full of anxiety when your focus is all on you. None of us are capable of doing this preaching endeavor. We are jars of clay. We are fragile. We can’t do this on our own.
So modify your focus. Instead of focusing on what you will say, begin to focus on the people you are about to preach to. Think about their faith (or lack thereof), their circumstances, their struggles, their prayer requests, their families, their friends, the community they (and you) are a part of.
Begin to focus on the unending connections the Word of God will make within the minds and hearts of the hearers in that moment of preaching. God’s Word connects to each person’s circumstance and speaks to their heart. That’s the amazing thing about preaching. No matter the specifics, the Word of God connects.
Don’t just focus on the people, but also focus on the message. Not the specific words or points, but the spirit of the message. What are the implications of the message for the people? What is the burden you have developed for the text and the people?
Get excited. You’re about to present God’s Word!
3. Pray Specifically
Before I preach, I pray specifically for the message that God’s Word is springing forth within me and will spring forth to the people that day. I ask God to bless His word and to do what only He can do – cause the seeds to grow.
I pray specifically for the people who will be receiving the Word that morning. I ask God to open their hearts to what He wants them to hear. I ask Him to convict them, change them, to bring about a revolution in their hearts.
I pray specifically for myself. I ask God to push me to the side and to take over. I ask Him to lead and I’ll follow. I never want to preach in my own strength, but only in His.
What do you think? Do these remedies actually remedy your nervousness? If not, I would encourage you to ask God to search your heart and to examine it yourself also. What is causing you to get nervous? Again, I’m not simply talking about butterflies, but something more. What are you worried about, exactly? Is it the pure weight of the endeavor of preaching? I get it, I do. But maybe you’re depending too much on yourself.
I’d love to hear from you. Do you still get nervous? What about? What do you do to remedy the nervousness?