A few months ago, I had the opportunity to speak at the SBCV Women’s Leader Retreat. This was the first time I’d ever spoken to 1) that many people in a room, and 2) specifically women who are in one way or another, leaders in their church. Here’s something you should know about me: if there is a way for me to doubt myself and be insecure, I’ve found it; I’ve actually done more than find it, I’ve discovered it! This is my thing. We all have something that we struggle with consistently, something we’re constantly trying to surrender to the Lord, and doubting is my something. But, God is so much bigger than my thing and your thing, and I wanted to share with you what I spoke about for two reasons: first, it’s something we all, leaders or not, struggle with at some point in our lives, and second, the Lord blessed me through this speaking opportunity.
I’m only 25 years old, and the enemy often reminds of this when I’m about to embark on something God has called me to do. I was a nervous wreck before I spoke to these wonderful women, and I was doubtful about what God had given me to share. I was insecure about my ability to speak well, and, my ability to encourage others because I was literally thinking, “These women have been leading other women for years and years. I’m just a 25-year old amateur leader. What do I have to say that could possibly encourage this group of women?”
Luckily, even when I’m being a Peter, God is merciful. Of course, I put on my big-girl pants, prayed before I got up there, and delivered the message God had placed on my heart weeks and weeks prior. Not only was it a blessing to my heart, but, so many women were encouraged. God is good, right? He surely is. So, here we go, and I pray you’re encouraged too.
I want to begin with Moses back in the Old Testament and tell you a little bit of his story that has really touched my heart. Let me set the scene here. We’re back in the 1400s B.C. The Israelites are in bondage in Egypt. – they’re in slavery y’all, working harsh and laborious jobs. Just before Moses was born, Pharaoh demanded that every Hebrew son born should be killed. He did this because he was scared of the potential threat these boys could be by joining up with a foreign army against Egypt once they’re older. But God had a plan for these people. Moses is born during this time to a Levi and Levite woman, and his mom could not kill him. In Chapter 2, verse 2, the Bible says,
“When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months.”
The Lord is preserving Moses because of the great purpose he is going to have. So, Mama Levite puts him in a basket and sends him off down the Nile, where Moses is found by the Pharaoh’s daughter, who keeps and cares for him as he grows older.
Even though Moses grew up privileged, he still viewed the Hebrews as his people. Once Pharaoh finds this out, he seeks to kill Moses, and Moses runs away to the land of Midian, where he meets a priest, marries his daughter, and has a son. During these years, the Israelites are still bound in slavery and they cry out to Lord.
The burning bush, this incredibly popular story happens next, where the Lord tells Moses to go and speak to Pharaoh to get His people out of Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land. After some back and forth, in chapter 3, verse 11, Moses says,
“ Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
The Lord promises that He will be with Moses, but he still has doubts. Verse 13,
“If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”
So, God reassures Moses some more, giving him a rather large pep talk about who He is and who to say He is. However, Moses is still feeling doubtful. In Chapter 4, verse 1, Moses says,
“But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.”’
So, God responds with some tricks for Moses to prove that the Lord has sent him, but it’s still not enough. Verse 10,
“Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”
Then God responds, pretty agitated at this point, reminding Moses that He is the one that created man’s mouth. Yet, Moses remains doubtful. In verse 13, Moses says,
“Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”
I tell you this story for two reasons: 1) I HAVE BEEN HERE, oh, I haven’t just been here, I go here because I struggle just like Moses, and 2) the better reason: Moses was a man who was handpicked and even preserved by God and even though Moses was insecure, the Lord STILL used Him.
The Lord isn’t telling us to be free of insecurity. I mean, look at Moses, He straight up told God, “Please send someone else” but He still WENT. That’s what’s important, here – obedience. I think sometimes, that since I’m a leader, I feel that I can’t be insecure, and I have to put on this game-face. BUT, that’s a lie, because if you think that being free from insecurity and doubt qualifies you for ministry, then you shouldn’t read the Bible. This book is filled with stories about followers and leaders who were insecure and doubtful, but they were obedient to God’s calling on their lives. He put imperfect people in the Bible so that we, fellow imperfects, could learn and be encouraged through His word. I mean, isn’t that awesome!? Moses has been this example for me recently, reminding me that I can be standing, trembling, and filled with fear, but I have a God who turns my insecurity into STRENGTH, and who turns doubt into COURAGE, because if He’s called us there, He’s not sending us ALONE, y’all, He’s coming with us!
Let’s move to the New Testament, to a scripture that God sent me to illustrate the truth, and how I think you can begin to blot out that insecurity in your life. Now, before I move on, I want to clarify the reasons why I’ve said “blot.” It’s not the most beautiful of words, but, I originally wanted to use the word, “wipe away” insecurity of doubt. I chose to not say this because I don’t think insecurity and doubt will be fully wiped away until we see Jesus face-to-face, or glorification, if you will. It’s never going to be a matter of, “Oh, I’ve dealt with my insecurity and doubt,” but will always be a matter of, “I’m dealing with it by the grace of God and power of Jesus Christ!” So goodness, we can blot at that stuff as the Lord continues to transform our lives in His glorious name!
In 1 Peter 2, verse 4 says,
“As you come to him, a living stone, rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in a Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame. So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellences of his who called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light.”
Moses was obedient because his foundation was in Christ. That’s it. “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood.” The only reason we have this opportunity is because of the blood of Jesus, Jesus – our cornerstone.
For me, these verses are empowering. It gives me strength. Knowing that we serve a God who has chosen us, and because the OT law was abolished, the veil was torn, and the blood of Jesus was shed, we have the Holy Spirit inside of us. God isn’t this far away being, whom we must bring sacrifices to; no, we get to experience the Lord any time, any day. These verses remind me that Christ alone is my hope, my strength, my rock. It’s in Him that my weakness becomes strength. It’s in Him that our darkness becomes light.
He is blotting away our insecurity and doubt as He sanctifies us everyday. The doubt and insecurity will come, because the Lord has promised trials and tribulations – storms, if you will. But it’s my passion for the Lord that keeps me standing. I just want to be obedient to His calling on my life. I don’t care how scary it is, and I promise you that I will be fearful, and I will be insecure, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, I will stand strong, because my foundation is in Christ. With my foundation in Christ, it’s easier to deal with doubt and insecurity. You know why? We have a book of His promises, of people, of encouragement, that will help guide us through the storms of life.
I want to close with a personal story about my journey with doubt and insecurity to further encourage you all. This is so important for me to share because I’ve walked through this. Like I said before, Moses and I have a lot in common. I’ve let insecurity rob me of so many opportunities that God has wanted me to experience. Some big, some small, but one of the many insecurities I have had is my musical gifting. For awhile, I missed out on some good stuff because I was too scared.
Growing up, I played the violin. I started when I was 10 years old, and praise the Lord, I am still playing my violin today. I LOVED playing that thing, even when I was just a middle-schooler, and we had practice logs to fill out, ya know, my mom and dad had to sign them, I never complained. It was during these early years that I also picked up piano and guitar, but we’ll get to that.
I wanted to practice my violin every single day. It was just the most beautiful thing to me. Towards the end of middle school when our orchestra started getting pretty good, like, the concerts weren’t so eye-opening, if you ya know what I mean, it almost became too much. I just loved it! I loved the melodies and harmonies flowing through the different instruments. And, to be honest, I was a pretty decent violinist. But y’all, I was terrified of playing by myself. I despised playing tests and auditions because I was so incredibly insecure. We’re talking tears, you guys, because I was filled with such doubt. My mom tried so hard, she would put little notes in my violin case on days of auditions and playing tests reminding me to be aggressive and that I had this in the bag! But, I just didn’t see it, or hear it, for better use of words. I thought that I wasn’t a good violinist. It was around this time that I began playing guitar with my band in the worship band. There were tears here, as well.
Once I got to high school, this insecurity took on a new level. It not only infected my musical talents, but it affected who I was. Now I was a good kid, but I did not apply myself nearly as much as I could have in high school because I had this crippling fear of other people. I just wanted to be liked. I wanted to be everyone’s best friend. I didn’t want to say anything wrong. I didn’t want to fail. I just wanted to do what I had to do to keep my GPA where it should be, keep my social status where it should be, and that was it. High school ended up being a time of passing through until something happened my senior year. It was like I woke up. I realized that I didn’t need to be scared of other people. That God had blessed me with many talents; that I was smart, that I was a person that people would befriend. During my senior year of high school, I was swim team captain, I was on the homecoming court, I played music in the worship band at church, I went to All-Districts and All-Regionals for Orchestra, I was the National Honor Society Vice President, but the best of all, I auditioned and made it so that I could participate in our high school talent pageant. This was a competitive competition in our school, and I am really grateful for the opportunity, because on the night of the pageant, I played my violin in front of about 600 people. It didn’t matter who was in the room, all that mattered was that I was sitting there, sharing something the Lord has blessed me with. It was like I was finally free from insecurity.
Now yes, that was a happy ending for that story, but, I continued to struggle with insecurity as I entered college. I made it through my freshman year, and without going into too much detail, I was limping into summer as I finished. I hadn’t applied myself. I got caught up in the party scene and in boys. I felt like a failure when I came home. But, the Lord’s grace covered me, and I spent that entire summer prepping to return to school, ready to find a church, and to live a life that is pleasing to Him, and I was terrified. What if I fell again? What if said the wrong things? What if people at my new church didn’t like me because of my crazy past? The Lord gave me strength as I entered my sophomore year at JMU, and I found Aletheia, and I can honestly say, the rest is history y’all.
Through my remaining years in college, I was so insecure, but the difference through those years from all the other years of my life? JESUS was my cornerstone. It was HE who gave me strength. It was HE who was calling me out into the storm. Did I fall? Of course I fell. Did I say stupid things? Of course I did. But, I sought after the Lord and every single day I woke up with the power of the Spirit inside of me, giving me strength for that day!
As I’ve reflected on these experiences, the hurt, the trials, the pain, I’m thankful for the testimony the Lord’s given me. As I get to lead college women and young professional women, the Lord has blessed me with this lifelong lesson. I get to share what I’ve been through and what I’ve experienced with these girls. How powerful and intentional is the Lord!?
As I close, I want to share one last thing. A story in the Bible that has been my passage for the past several years now, is Matthew 14. The disciples have just left Jesus feeding the 5,000 and they’re crossing the Sea of Gaililee. Jesus appears to them, and they think He’s a GHOST. As Jesus reassures to them that He is the Son of God, good ole’ Peter keeps testing Him, and wants Him to prove that He is in fact The Everlasting Savior by having Peter walk on water. Jesus says, “Come.” I just love that. Peter, another kindred Spirit of mine, obeys the Lord, even though he was chatty through that whole process, and steps out of the boat. Now, Peter starts doubting again and begins to sink, but y’all, let me tell you something, I would much rather be a Peter, and GET OUT OF THE BOAT, than be dry. I would rather feel that split-second, walking-on-water feeling, than be in the boat when the Lord is telling me to COME.
I want you to think about the wonderful purpose God has for your life. I want you to remember that your strength does not from You, but from the Lord. And, I want you to remember that the process of sanctification is a beautifully , long process. It’s okay if you become insecure along your journey. It’s okay if you doubt. But, I want you to have the strength the get out of the boat when He’s calling you out of it – whether it’s a storm or it’s smooth seas, obey Him, and you just wait, He’s going to blow your mind.