It should have been a moment of joy and success, but it felt more like a karate chop to the back of the neck. You know those aches that start in your shoulders, go up your neck and land in your head? I had one of those, but it wasn’t the headache that grabbed my attention.
The weeks leading up to a speaking event in Pennsylvania were exciting. Momentum was building, and this year alone I’ve had more speaking opportunities than ever before. It was like a dream coming true, and I was trying to enjoy each moment. That excitement did not last, however…
The night before I spoke at the first of several speaking events, I was up late–stressed out and anxious–feeling like I wasn’t prepared. It wasn’t because I wasn’t ready, I spent weeks getting ready. Yet, it was a feeling I couldn’t shake. I thought it was legitimate, but as you will soon find out, it wasn’t.
The next day, I went to the event and was burdened by the stressful feeling that I wasn’t prepared. I prayed, spoke and it went well. I knew it went well because there were people who told me it went well. But instead of excitement, I felt an overwhelming sense of negativity. Here are just a few of the thoughts that circulated in my brain:
- The school spent money on that? You didn’t say anything of substance. I bet they feel like they wasted their money on you.
- They don’t like you or the content.
- Not only were you not prepared, but you wasted their time.
- You should quit. Don’t you wish the week was over already? Maybe there’s a way you could get out of the next few days of speaking. I bet they will gladly accept a refund!
- You’re boring. They’ve heard this stuff before.
- Welcome to Fail-club! You’re now a premier member with full-benefits. I think you’ll especially like the pool, it has a waterfall–we call it condemnation falls.
Some of you can probably recognize some of these feelings and thoughts because you’ve experienced them before. FYI–they are NOT from God. God is a good Father. A good Father doesn’t berate his children, tear them down and try to destroy their confidence. They key word is “good” because some earthly fathers treat children this way. But not God. He is a good Father, a father who lavishes us with love (1 John 3:1). A Father who does not condemn us (Rom. 8:1) and who uses kindness to lead us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Does the description of the thoughts going through my head sound like a good Father lavishing love and kindness upon his son to lead him to repentence? Absolutely not! It sounds like a heavy load of condemnation designed for the purpose of destroying confidence and sending him (me) packing in defeat.
I’m sharing my weaknesses with you because I’m guessing that the evil one, Satan, attacks you in similar ways, especially when you are in the midst of doing what God has for you to do. When he does, it’s often difficult to realize what’s happening. If you’re like me, you may feel like you have a headache and that you’re a failure, yet not recognize that most of the thoughts are contrary to the loving voice of God the Father. In the situation described above, I didn’t recognize Satan’s voice until my wife pointed out the destructive nature of my thoughts.
God is a good Father, and he loves you very much. God doesn’t use condemnation to correct your behavior, he uses kindness and love. So if you feel condemned, it’s probably not God’s voice that you’re hearing. In fact, you may be doing exactly what you’re supposed to do, and there’s an evil someone who really needs and wants you to quit. If so, remember this and continue on…
“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4