In a month or two I will be giving my first conference talk.
I feel a bit like Paul, if you will allow me to rip a verse out of context: "I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling" (1 Cor 2:3).
Except in my case the fear and trembling come from less godly motivations. I want to succeed. I want this event to succeed. I want to impress people. I want them to like, respect, admire me. I could go on - I'm a type A person! My ambitions are boundless! - but I'd embarrass myself (like I already haven't) and you, too.
My gut clenches; my mind hazes over. People say, "You'll be great!" - my mother, who's not at all one-sided, plus a few faithful friends who have far more respect for me than I deserve - and all I can think is, "Now there's further to fall!". I remind myself that it's a small conference among friends; but it doesn't really help.
There's just one thing that helps. It's one of my favourite Bible passages, Philippians 2:1-11. It keeps coming into my head, driven by the Spirit. When I feel the fear welling up, I repeat to myself (and yes, this is pretty much the 1984 version of the NIV, 'cos my brain is stuck there):
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit ...Selfish ambition. Vain conceit. Sums up the worst of my motivations quite nicely.
And the alternative:
...but in humility consider others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but to the interests of others. You attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
Putting others' interests above my own. Valuing them more than myself. Doing this for their sake, not mine.
And then the model, Jesus Christ:
Who, being in very nature God,This isn't about me. It never was. It's about me laying down my life for the sake of others. And if, in the process, I get cold toes and a wriggly tummy, well, that's a small price to pay.
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being found in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name ...
I just pray I can forget myself and serve others for the sake of Christ. Not for my own glory, but for his:
... that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,For his glory.
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11)