Thursday, February 9, 2012


Did you know that public speaking sits as the #1 phobia in the top ten phobias of people in the world?

1. Fear of public speaking (Glossophobia)
2. Fear of death (Necrophobia)
3. Fear of spiders (Arachnophobia)
4. Fear of darkness (Achluophobia, Scotophobia or Myctophobia)
5. Fear of heights (Acrophobia)
6. Fear of people or social situations (Sociophobia)
7. Fear of flying (Aerophobia)
8. Fear of open spaces (Agoraphobia)
9. Fear of thunder and lightning (Brontophobia)
10. Fear of confined spaces (Claustrophobia)

Surveys and research results show that most people would rather die than talk in front of a live audience. It's a social phobia that is related to self-presentation in front of an audience. Scientists sometimes call it social anxiety disorder. Their medic term is glossophobia; from the Greek words glossa and phobos. Glossa means tongue and phobos stands for fear or dread. (

Well this is no news to me. If there is anything that will get my upper back in a twist of knots, my heart racing, my blood filled with anxiety, and my legs weak, it’s definitely the thought of public speaking.

Enter an email that I received 2 weeks ago. It was actually sent to my husband first….it was from one of his former coaches who lives in Ankeny…

I wanted to ask your wife if she would be willing to come speak to my women's Titus 2 group on Tuesday, February 7th on the topic of the fruit of "goodness". I don't have her email otherwise I would ask her myself.

Jake read it aloud to me while I was unloading the dishwasher that afternoon in the kitchen. The only words I really heard were ‘come speak’ and that was all that was needed for my flesh to shout out a big giant NO WAY, JOSÉ!

My husband knows me too well. With a grin he looked up and said, “What should I tell her?”

My thoughts raced for a minute and I knew that it would look bad if I said ‘no’ without an excuse so I said, “Oh just forward it to me.” And he did. And the email sat in my inbox, untouched for 3 days. On purpose. Because I figured if I didn’t open it, then I wouldn’t know what it said, and I wouldn’t feel bad for saying no, and I wouldn’t have to consider saying yes. Great logic right?

Well, Jake kept bringing it up and encouraging me to do it. And by day 3 seeing that email sitting there in my inbox really started to nag at me. So I opened it. Immediately after reading it, my flesh again started speaking real loud ~ “No! I am a writer not a speaker! What will I say anyways? What do I know about goodness? I’m too young to have any sort of credibility. That’s an hour and half speaking commitment! Jake is the speaker in this family, not me! Absolutely, can’t do it.” But the interesting thing about being a believer in Jesus, is that I have the Holy Spirit inside of me. So when my flesh starts talking, the Holy Spirit engages to bring in truth. Immediately the Holy Spirit started talking back to my flesh as I recalled Moses’ response to God when God had given him an assignment in Exodus 3 that involved much public speaking….

Moses said to the Lord, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

The Lord said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it (Exodus 4:10-13).”

Oh Moses, I am so feeling ya buddy.

So, there I was, email open on my lap top, with my flesh and the Holy Spirit engaged in an all-out war inside of me. I know enough in my walk with God now that I need to obey the Holy Spirit’s leading even if where he is leading is going to take me to a place out of my comfort zone. I knew that this was an opportunity God had given me. An opportunity to speak of His glory in the story that He has written in our lives. I typed out my yes response. And for the life of me I could not press send. For 5 minutes I sat there balling my eyes out like a little baby, telling God that I so did not want to do this. I prayed that if I said yes that He would instruct me on what to say. That He would give me courage. That He would calm my nerves and give me a clear mind, and clear words. Finally, after I got done with my pity party, I clicked send. And off that email went, and I asked God to please come through for me. Or I was doomed.

And you know what?

The first thing God led me to do was to look up the biblical definition of the fruit of goodness in a book I have by Elizabeth George called ‘A Woman’s Walk With God’. Goodness defined is: movement into total action, actively serving others. And it hit me. I do have a lot to say on that topic! Literally the rest of the afternoon ideas of how to form my speech would just come to me at the most random times. As we were driving in the car my mind shuffled through my file cabinet of experiences and I outlined what the main points of my speech would be on a scratch piece of paper. That night we were out for dinner and headed to a high school basketball game – scriptures and quotes and stories and little nuggets of things that I have blogged previously came flying into my brain. I kept sketching them out. I committed most of last week to forming a rough draft of my speech and spent all my free time on it. I practiced out loud in the closet and became mindful of my ‘ummms’ and tried to recall those good transition phrases that I learned in high school speech class. My mind took over and memorized big sections because I knew I couldn’t read off the paper the whole time.

And when the preparation was done I got to stare at 10 pages of notes, full of truths and stories of God’s glory all centered around living out the fruit of goodness. And when I practiced, the total speech came to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Just perfect. And you know what? I started to get excited! So excited to share and speak about what God has done in our lives – in a way that I never have before. I wondered who would be there, and how God would stir their hearts by what He would say through me. I was confident in what I had to share, and felt that God had prepared me fully. Now it would soon be go time. My heart did start fretting again as I thought about all those faces that would be staring at me. So I emailed two friends and asked them to commit to pray for me during my speeches – I had to speak twice – once at the morning bible study group and once at the evening one.

And earlier this week was the big day. And I made it through. I didn’t die of embarrassment, I didn’t flub up my words, and my zipper wasn’t down, and nothing was hanging out of my nose. My voice didn’t shake, and I did cry at some parts, but so did the other women so it felt fine. I didn’t blank out and not know what to say because I had taken the time to write very detailed notes and had rehearsed it to memory. My stories got the women to laugh, and to get tears in their eyes, and to nod their heads, and they were engrossed in what I had to say the whole time. They gave me such positive feedback at the end about what spoke to them that by the time I got to my car I apologized to the Lord for being such a coward. Part of my speech involved talking about the 3 types of fears that hold us back from allowing God to use us. I’ve blogged about them previously here – I like to call them paralyzers. Well, how ironic that these fears almost paralyzed me from doing this speech.

I know God wouldn’t have been mad at me if I would have said no to this opportunity. He wouldn’t have taken away my salvation and He wouldn’t have given me the silent treatment or distanced Himself from me. But you know what? I realized that if I would have said no to this, I would have been telling God that I didn’t believe He would equip me or empower me for what I was facing. I would have been telling Him that I didn’t actually believe that the same powerful Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead was living inside of me and could give a teeny tiny speech. If I would have said no, I would have been telling God that I didn’t trust Him to come through for me. And I would have never gotten to experience the awesome feeling of Him absolutely taking over and delivering – I wouldn’t have become confident in this aspect of His character. And more than any of that, I would have stifled the invitation to shout out my Savior’s message – He’s in the messy situations, He reaches out to the hurting and the broken and the outcasts and the immoral and the people with bad reputations and the overlooked and those enslaved to a life of sin. And if He’s in those situations, reaching out, than that’s where His followers should be found too. You can slap a label of 'the fruit of goodness' on it. But I’d rather call it 'rolling up your sleeves and getting messy for the Lord (whoop whoop!)'. :)

The truth is that the Spirit of the living God is guaranteed to ask you to go somewhere or do something you wouldn’t normally choose to do. The Spirit will lead you to the way of the cross, as He led Jesus to the cross, and that is definitely not a safe or pretty or comfortable place to be. But, the Holy Spirit of God will mold you into the person you were made to be... ~Francis Chan, Forgotten God~


MKinzenbaw said...

Janel, you were AMAZING... You have no idea how many different ways you spoke to the women there...I could literally feel God speaking through you the whole time. Thank you for stepping out in faith (I'm sorry that I had no idea that you were so scared of public speaking!), but I guess it allowed you to get "messy" with God and once again, He showed His goodness. I hope we get the chance to talk again...and please know I am praying for you and your family and your upcoming adoptions!

Tom Woods said...

Very interested glossophobia statistics and a very inspiring post, well done Janel!