Lead with Confidence

As a small child, I was afraid to go to the counter at a fast food restaurant to ask for a drink refill. I hated it so much. I couldn't tell you why—the people behind the counter didn't have a reason to refuse me a free refill. And I highly doubt the scenarios of humiliation I pictured in my head would have ever happened in real life. Nevertheless, I was too shy. My parents would usually make me go anyway; otherwise, I wouldn't get a refill. I’m thankful to them now for trying to get me to be less shy, although I'm certain I didn't appreciate it at the time!

When I was in school, I had so many opportunities to speak up and answer questions posed by my teachers. I probably only spoke up about 15 percent of the time. I felt a desire to raise my hand when I thought I knew the answer, but I didn't want to risk being incorrect and humiliating myself. As it happens, I usually had the correct answer and would be disappointed that I didn't speak up. But I couldn't risk it, right?

I was painfully shy when I was younger. When I had to talk to someone I didn't know or speak out loud in front of people, my lips were usually zipped tight. As I've grown up, I've seen an improvement in my shyness and my confidence. College really brought me out of my shell. Now, in my daily post-college life, I'm social (usually), I like being around people (unless I need to recharge at home alone), and I can even get up in front of a larger group of people and speak (with a pre-written speech, but I'm good at making it sound like I'm not reading!). As demonstrated by my last sentence, I have come a long way, but my inner introvert is still here.

Here's one more story, and it's the reason why I'm writing. I recently joined the worship team at my church because I love to sing (but never as a soloist). This past Sunday, we sang a song that I thought I knew quite well. Turns out the very beginning of the song starts on a much lower note than it sounds like it should. During practice, I started on the wrong note the first time, but corrected it the second time. So, when it came time to sing it in front of the congregation, I thought I had it down.

The music started playing, and we all started tapping our feet or clapping our hands to the music. I was ready for that first line of the song. I could hear it in my head. I told myself to be confident and sing out because I have a naturally soft voice. So, when that first line started, I sang it with confidence. I could even hear myself coming through the speakers. And then I realized I had made the mistake again of starting on the wrong note! I was singing higher than everyone else, and I was singing it confidently. Once I realized something was off, I backed off pretty quickly.

The point of these stories and musings is to show the value of confidence. Think of how many more drink refills I could have had as a kid. Think of the satisfaction I could have felt if I had just spoken up in class. Think of the teachers who would have gotten better insights into my learning ability. There are so many things that would have turned out differently if I had just done them with confidence. There's nothing wrong with being introverted, but confidence really makes all the difference.

So, what about this past Sunday when I sang the wrong note, and sang it with confidence? What happened? Well . . . nothing. No one laughed at me. No one made a face. No one even really knew who had done it until I mentioned it later. Everyone continued singing and worshiping the Lord. It was a non-issue.

Take these thoughts on confidence with you to your next meeting with the kids in your missions organization. Maybe for some of you, leading kids is way out of your comfort zone. Maybe for others, you feel totally at home but not everything goes according to plan. And still for others, maybe you love leading kids, but your confidence is not quite there yet.

The important thing to remember is that God wouldn't call you to this position without equipping you with the gifts and abilities you need. Let that reminder give you confidence as you lead the kids in your missions organizations each week. Be confident in the Lord and His Word. Be confident in how God will speak to your kids through you. Be confident as you tell a story or lead a game or craft. And even if there's a time that feels reminiscent to my singing the wrong notes, lead out with confidence and go with the flow. The kids probably won't even notice the difference.

All that matters is for kids to learn about God's love and about how to share His love with the world. The rest will fall into place. All it takes is a little confidence.


Jessica Graham is a copy editor for children's resources at national WMU. Half of her time is spent happily interacting with people; the other half is spent recharging at home in the peace and quiet.


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