The Fear that Keeps You from Speaking

When I was a young man, if you wanted to ignite instant fear in my body, ask me to speak and share my heart in front of a crowd. Although there was a huge part of me that wanted to be able to do it confidently, there was always that nagging anxiety that would swell in my body when the opportunity drew near. I would immediately obsess in fear and chase down racing thoughts of dread.

It is amazing how God has called me to use my voice to impact others, when for so long, speaking was one of my greatest fears. And for so many I work with and help, they’ve had some form of fear that seeks to prevent them from speaking confidently.

Odds are, fear has tried to attack your ability to talk. It may be it public speaking, teaching, sharing your story or praying in front of others, masses of people have a battleground on their hands when it comes to speaking with confidence.

The Assault Against Your Voice

I’ve coached many people with a variety of fear related issues that rise up when they have an opportunity to use their voice. For some, they come under anxiety symptoms. Others feel a tangible pressure in their neck and mouth. Many just retreat and don’t bother speaking. The fear keeps them from opening their mouth.

It makes sense that there is a resistance against your voice being heard. One of the greatest ways that people are impacted for good is through the spoken word. God’s ways were designed to be communicated by words, so that those who hear, are changed. Faith is ignited through words. LIves are encouraged and communities are eternally impacted through words.

With that in mind, you need to know there is a spiritual battle over this potential. Preventing your voice from being heard is one of the enemy’s main targets.

Moses’ Fear of Speaking

The good news is that you are not alone. We all go through this battle at some level, but those who have gone before us have left us foot prints of breakthrough.

We can learn great lessons about fear from Moses, as he struggled with a fear over not being an eloquent speaker.

In Exodus, God appears to him in the burning bush and begins to reveal His divine nature and His plan for Moses. Jehovah laid out the plan to use Moses’ voice to declare freedom for the children of Israel. The encounter with God’s presence was historical, yet the fear that Moses carried still pushed through.  

The Bible quotes him as saying he was “slow of tongue.”

Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” Exodus 4:10 (NKJV)

Some commentators believe he had a stuttering problem. Maybe it was a speech impediment. Regardless of what he had or how he developed this issue, we know that fear was seeking to get an upper hand.

Fear and Overwhelm

God reveals His plan of deliverance, yet Moses was overwhelmed by his shortcomings and weaknesses. This where fear seems to do the most damage: get you focused on all your insecurities and not see the divine invitation that God has set before you.  

When we see our future only through the lens of what we think we can humanly handle, fear can gain an upper hand. We become overwhelmed with the statistics, the past failures, or a list of endless details we think we need to address. Most of all, fear tells us it can be done.

In his mind, Moses felt his speech issues disqualified him from being a mouthpiece for God and leading. Yet in God’s eyes, this was a perfect opportunity to demonstrate His power.

Fear tells you that you are too weak. God says that He is so great, He will even work through your weaknesses.

The Fear of Man

Yet there is one enemy that stands in the way of us speaking with confidence–fear.

The fear of man, the fear of what people think and the fear of failure can produce all kinds of difficulties when it comes to speaking confidently. I have witnessed it in operation where one becomes locked in shyness and passivity because of it.

For some people, they just need practice. They are not used to talking or praying in front of other people. They just need the muscle exercised to develop their confidence. But for many, it is way more than that. It’s a very spiritual battle that works to prevent their voice from flowing.  

God Works with Us in Process

For Moses, it was a hindrance that needed to be broken. The good news is that God did not require him to break through this before He would use Moses. God worked with Moses in His calling to use him and also deliver him from limitations of fear.

I know that God will do the same with you. He works in your process to empower you to overcome.

This battle with fear needs to be shattered in your life if you are going to fulfill your calling. You may not be speaking in front of large crowds, but your voice is still important. Fear knows this and wants to steal your potential.

Just like Moses, you too can overcome the fear and insecurity that keeps you from being free to speak out of who God made you to be. Maybe today, you can have a “burning bush” experience with God’s awesome presence, so that you can take your faith to the next level.

My Personal Battle

The fear and insecurity I carried with speaking impacted me so deeply, I would be nauseated at the very thought of speaking in front of a crowd. During the early days of pastoral work, if asked to preach, I would mull over it in worry every moment of the day leading up to the event. I remember days pacing back and forth in my office, at times being sick to my stomach, because the fear was so intense.

The war was thick, and to be honest, I wasn’t equipped for it. In fact, I had so much shame about it, I didn’t tell anyone.

Thank God that over the years, I became more open about it and sought out how to overcome. I had to see the war that was waging over my voice being heard. I had to see my potential and let the Father’s love fill me with boldness.

This battle over speaking was not just some weird quirk. The enemy did not want me to speak with confidence or live with peace regarding the words God put on my heart.

Our Attempts for Support

It’s amazing how the fear and insecurity Moses carried still rose up in the midst of God’s presence. In his mercy, God temporarily pacifies Moses’ words of fear and doubt by allowing Aaron, his brother and the first high priest of Israel, to be his godly spokesperson.

When fear is at the helm in our lives, we often develop certain crutches or gravitate towards keeping something familiar as a backup in case things go wrong. Thank God there is grace in the process, but in the long run, there is a better way.

The problem is, you cannot run to second base while keeping your foot on first. You cannot sail into the sea towards new land while sailing close to the shore that you left from. Moses looked to Aaron as the man that he could hide behind, but would soon realize, the step of boldness would still need to happen.

Time to Step Out

How many times does this temptation rise up in us? We sense that God wants to use us to march forward in boldness into new territory. Maybe it’s a new job, your testimony, a new ministry or a new relationship. Maybe you need to share your story, but you are hesitant to open up.  

The lure that fear brings at those crossroads is to get you to hide behind a standby in the natural to give you support. Fear will also convince you to remain in the shadows and not bother.

Meanwhile, God is calling you to let go of the supports you look to for safety and find new dimensions of safety by trusting Him. And we can only develop trust by taking steps that involve a risk. As you speak forth, you surrender yourself into His care and safety.

Fear will cause you to hesitate…to back down…to remain passive. Meanwhile, the gift you have to share is beautiful. And please know, the preciousness of what you have to say is not in the eloquence or perfection of how you say it. The beauty is in you, just being you. That’s where God meets us and the power flows.

No Need for Plan B

Moses started off by looking to Aaron as his lean-to. Yet when the moment of truth appeared, you see a totally different Moses. He stands before Pharaoh and declares the Word of the Lord with boldness. You do not see Aaron speaking for him. You read about Moses stepping forward and walking in his authority.

What happened? Moses realized that his fears were all smoke, mirrors and illusions. There was nothing to be afraid of. When Moses spoke, God was with him through it all, to deliver him and the people.

The footprint that Moses’ life leaves us is simple: Step out in faith. Exercise your calling and gifting. Exercise your voice to breath love, life and power into people’s lives.

God will meet you each step of the way. I know He did it for me.

Question: Where do you need to step forward and use your voice, where you have held back because of fear?

Scripture References:

  • Exodus 3-4
  • Hebrews 11:23-29

Recommend Resources: