Jerry Seinfeld once said, “The number one fear of all people is public speaking; number two is death. Death is number two? This means that if you had to be at a funeral, you would rather be in the casket than doing the Eulogy.” While this statement may be humorous, the reality of the situation is not so funny. Most people, young and old, are very uncomfortable doing anything in front of people. But while one may be able to get through most of school avoiding the spotlight, what happens when those same philosophies and tactics are applied to public worship?

Most men will start taking a “leader role” in public worship in their teenage years, but the services they perform range widely. Some may start with leading the opening or closing prayers then move to song-leading, or vice versa. Still others may never be bold enough to step up and take part at all, leaving the duties to be filled by other people. What does this say about the heart of the individual? It is understandable that some are more naturally inclined to get up in public and may be much more comfortable with it, but does that excuse the others to sit back? Assuming that you are in a position to lead a part in public worship in the first place, there are some things that must be understood when considering these roles.

First and foremost, it must be understood that the worship you will be leading is not about glorifying you, but God. In Acts 12, after Peter was released from prison by an angel, Herod stood up to deliver an address to the people. After his eloquent speech, praises rang out from the audience claiming Herod to be a god rather than a man. Herod reveled in this and, since he did not give glory to God, “immediately an angel of the Lord struck him…And he was eaten by worms and died” (Acts 12:23). It is granted that Herod was not standing in a church building when delivering this address, but the point remains the same: glory belongs to God. We may be the most eloquent, knowledgeable, and captivating presenter on the face of the earth, but unless we understand that God is the focus of our service, not ourselves, it will not be acceptable before Him.

There is a certain amount of intimidation, that comes from years of experience (looking at it from the audience’s viewpoint), that is present every time a man steps into the pulpit. Looking at older and wiser men who have grasped its wooden sides and proclaimed messages of sober truth, it is sometimes intimidating to think that you will be sharing that same space, and wondering how you will lead the minds of the church in worship to God. It is important to remember at this point that it is not the eloquence of the words spoken that will pierce the hearts of the people, but the Word itself. “All the kings of the earth will praise you, O Lord, when they hear the words of your mouth” (Psalm 138:4). It’s not our words that will be praised, but God’s. There lies at the heart of every great, sound sermon we hear and every great, sound song we sing God’s word, which is given to everyone: young and old, experienced and inexperienced (reference Acts 11:18).

The manner in which we approach God and the worship of Him should be one of reverence and awe. “Praise the Lord…You who stand in the House of the Lord, in the courts of the House of our God” (Psalm 135:1-2)! Our service to God is, and always should be, done in a manner to magnify and glorify Him – worship that is worthy of His name. And while we must always keep in mind the seriousness of the situation, the last thing we should worry about is how we look in front of the congregation. Keep in mind that everyone sitting in the auditorium remembers what it was like to be 13, constantly repeating yourself with a cracking voice. No one will judge you based on what you do, but rather encourage you with every step you take into the podium. And even if, when you get back to your seat, your friends tease or joke about a mispronounced word or something equally small, know that God is looking down upon you well-pleased, as a person that is making the most of his talents (Matthew 25:14-29).

Last modified: January 22, 2019