Do any of you still get nervous when you’re in front of people, particularly presenting or leading music? Of course, we all know that the more we do this, the less nervous we get, and that is certainly a good thing. But what if something new, out of the ordinary, or especially “nerve-wracking” were to take place; singing a solo for instance? Nerves are easily among the biggest distractions that a musician may experience, but it need not be so for the Christian. How can I make such a claim? Read on.
Being nervous is actually the result of fear –fear of not being our best, fear of failing, fear of what others will think of us and what that will in turn cause us to think of ourselves. This fear is actually a manifestation of our prideful hearts – hearts that insist on making our musicianship all about us and our sense of self-worth. Worse still, this pride often masks itself as humility – “Oh, it was nothing really, after all, I’m so sick [cough…cough…].” This is not humility. This is pride – guarding ourselves against presenting our true identity and our true ability so that we never feel as if it is truly the “real me” being judged. This is an incredibly clever trick, all the more dangerous because we really think of this attitude as humility.
What are we to do with this? Must we accept this and trust ourselves to “just get used to it?” I think not. God loves beautiful music because it reflects His own nature by being beautiful. He loves it all the more when it is created by His own people, called by His name, intentionally reflecting His own beauty back to Him in their own creative acts of worship. God does want us to be good musicians, but more than that, He wants us to be good people. Psalm 51 says that the “sacrifices of God area broken spirit” and that “a broken and contrite spirit” He “will not despise.” There is no room in such a heart for pride –only humility. If there is no room for pride, there is no room for fear. If there is no room for fear, there is no place for nerves. We do not conquer nerves primarily by becoming better musicians. We conquer them first by being more humble people. The happy consequence of this is that we will be less nervous, and therefore better musicians as well!
Remember, humility (the false kind) is the highest form of conceit, for it places us in the position that only God deserves. Don’t let it fool you, or you will be the slave of a prideful heart until your final note is sung. Let the reality of God’s desire for your heart free you from the need to be well thought of. The only One we need to please in our music making finds His pleasure in the status of our hearts more than the sounds of our voices. What a happy consonance when they match one another!