This Sunday I had the opportunity to read Scripture in the church services at The Crossing. I was asked the week before and I immediately said, “Oh yea…NBD (No big deal).” I figured I’m a pretty good speaker and all I’m doing is reading God’s Word – this will be no sweat. It’s funny what you learn about yourself when you least expect it. Let me unpack that…
So there I am an hour before the service practicing with the worship team (the passage was read between worship songs). I was conscious to articulate my words clearly, put a different emphasis on different words, etc etc. I thought my first run through went pretty well…until I was informed I sounded like a robot. Not only that, but apparently I make this annoying little smacking sound with my lips every time I paused and started talking again. At this point I realized that I wasn’t as smooth a public speaker as I thought and was starting to sweat a little. I ran through the reading a couple more times before the service started to try and iron out all the kinks.
As the service got underway I could not focus at all on the music being sung. Instead my thoughts were, “Don’t blow this Austin. Don’t make that smacking sound, speak slowly but not too slowly, enunciate your words…and don’t make that smacking sound!” The crowd was told to be seated, I got up and walked to the podium, read the Scripture, and sat back down. Whew! Big weight off my shoulders. I could rest easy now right? Wrong. All I could think about the rest of the service was, “Man I should’ve read this sentence with the emphasis here. And I shouldn’t have turned on the mike so early because everyone could hear me raising the music stand. And I should have said this sentence with more energy. And….” The thoughts went on and on.
At this point some of you might be thinking, “Austin, chill out bro. You spoke in front of thousands of people. Everyone gets nervous and pitts out a little.” You’re exactly right. But my primary agenda was for me to look good. I was worried about not smacking my lips because if I did I would forever be labeled the lip smacker, and I was worried about not sounding like a robot because I might end up with a nickname like R2D2.
What might God’s agenda have been for me reading Scripture? I don’t want to assume too much but if I had to take a guess I would bet it would be for all the people sitting in that auditorium to get excited about hearing His Word. Maybe His agenda was less focused on my positive image and more about making His name look good. 2 Corinthians 4:15 sums this up well – “For it (persecution and affliction) is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”
The entire Christian life is a battle of agendas: ours vs. God’s. Our agenda has us at the center. God’s agenda has Him at the center. In the simple task of reading Scripture, my agenda was all about me. In your life where are those battles? When you write a paper, or have conversations with believers/non-believers, or give a class presentation, or work a potentially boring job, who’s well-being are you most concerned with? The answer to that question reveals a lot about who and what you are living for.