by Missie, Bible School for the Nations staff
I want to let you in on a little secret. Whenever I stand in front of a group of people to teach, I hear my own, personal soundtrack. It goes something like this: What if they don’t agree with me? What if they can’t understand me? What if I say something that’s totally wrong? Am I just making a fool of myself?
You see, teaching has always been a struggle for me. The main reason is that I’m really afraid of what others think about me. In Bible terms, this is called “fear of man.” The good news is that God has been helping me overcome this fear over the past few months.
It all started about a year ago when I decided to teach on the book of 1 Samuel and the life of King Saul, Israel’s first king. Saul was a man blessed and anointed by God to be the king over His nation. But somewhere along the way, Saul lost the plot. He stopped following God’s plan and made decisions based on what other people would think of him. He became more concerned with people’s opinions than with God’s. By the end of his life, he was a foolish, murdering madman.
King Saul missed the fact that his position as king was about his relationship and obedience to God. How could he successfully lead God’s people if he couldn’t obey God? The book of 1 Samuel records a couple times where Saul went directly against what God had told him to do (see 1 Sam 13 and 15 for examples). This is where we see Saul begin his downward spiral.
In 1 Sam. 15, after Saul has disobeyed God again, the high priest Samuel corrects Saul, ”What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22).
Saul realizes where he went wrong. He says, “Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the Lord’s command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded” (1 Sam. 15:24). But if you read on, you’ll see his concern with what others think about him is still the most important thing. His heart is not following after God’s.
When I read this, I realized that God sent a lot of people my way to help correct my way of thinking, much like he sent Samuel to correct Saul. I didn’t want to end up like Saul — to be so concerned with others’ opinions of me that I disregarded God’s leading and ultimately lost the privilege of fulfilling God’s purposes for me. I realized that it really comes down to who God says I am, and whether I am being obedient to His calling on my life.
I cried for a week leading up to my teaching on Saul as God dealt with my heart. I knew I could no longer let the fear of man control me and tear me apart. I saw how I had resisted God’s plans for me for so long. And I saw the difference it has since made in my life as I follow His leading and listen to His voice.
I have never once been left alone as I stand up front and teach, and I never will be. The Holy Spirit always comes and gives me strength. That personal soundtrack is getting quieter as I grow in confidence of who God made me to be, and of His love for me no matter what. I want the last words God says about me to be that I am a woman after His own heart!