When Something is on the Line

I wasn’t just worried that I would fail; I was confident of it. And in the back of my mind, I was thinking of every possible excuse to get out of this speaking engagement.

Maybe we can send business coach Chris Hogan instead.

Maybe they will cancel because of the snow.

Maybe I’ll get really sick.

Several months ago, I was asked to speak at the annual convention for a national honor society here in Nashville.

The client requested I send over a small description of my talk so she could promote it. I did so, and was a little taken aback when the client responded with, “Based on your talk description, no one is going to come.”

Well, tell me how you really feel.

Eventually, after some back-and-forth, we came up with something she liked better. Months went by before the event. We had another conference call the week before the convention, and I recapped what I planned to talk about. To say she sounded worried would be an understatement.

She warned me that these students were skeptical and reminded me that some may even walk out during the session!

“Whatever you do, don’t give them any of that pop-psychology, self-help stuff because they will be insulted and see right through it,” she said. “And please don’t bore them with common sense. These students are working on their PhDs and don’t want to waste their time with anything they already know. Most of the other speakers’ presenting are renowned in their academic fields.”

I got off the phone intimidated, petrified and completely overwhelmed. I’d never felt more inadequate before an event. And her words just kept repeating in my mind:

“Self-help?” I mean, that’s kind of what we do here.

“Common sense?” It’s in our freaking mission statement!

After a week filled with anxiety, I hit a low point the night before the event.

I was dreading it with every fiber of my being. I imagined everyone walking out in the middle of my talk and the client demanding a refund because I was so terrible.

But somewhere in the middle of my mental chaos, God spoke to me.

He reminded me that we feel the greatest fear when something is on the line.

If what I was going to say the next day didn’t matter—if lives weren’t on the line—then I wouldn’t feel the incredible pressure of that moment. I had to go, because something was on the line. And if this was how God wanted to use me, he could—fears and all.

I went to the event the next day feeling miraculously cool, calm and collected. I stepped into the moment and did what God called and created me to do. I gave my talk with the same heart and passion that I always do, and it was actually a huge hit!

But the best part wasn’t that I survived it or that the audience didn’t walk out. The best part was that the client—the same woman who caused me so much stress—came up to me afterward with tears in her eyes.

“This talk was for me,” she said.

She went on to share her story of heartache and how my talk was meant specifically for her—the very person I was terrified to disappoint! I realized this was the person who needed to hear my message. This was the very reason God called me to step into that moment. This talk was for her.

If God is calling you to step up and do the impossible, remember that something (or someone) is always on the line.