I Get Nervous: Steps to Combat Nervousness in Worship
By Savannah Cone
Your heart patters fast, ba-bum ba-bum ba-bum, you feel like you have to gasp forto get a deep breath. The lights come up, and your eyes widen as you see a crowd of people staring back at you. And now you have to worship?
I’ve seen it in students, adults, professional performers, worship pastors, and everything in between. If you get nervous before you speak or sing in a church setting, know you are not alone. I intend to equip you with practical steps to help you manage this nervousness as you lead in these settings. You may think I will answer this with a cliche answer like, “Sing for the Lord and not for people,” but it’s not! This statement is not wrong; it is for the Lord and not for man (Col. 3:23), but my goal here is to equip you with functional tools to help you overcome nervousness.
My goal here is to equip you with functional tools to help you overcome nervousness.
- Nose Trick
Try it with me!
> Take your right-hand index finger and close your right nostril
> Breath in through your left nostril for four counts
> Take your left-hand index finger and close your left nostril
> Release your air through your right nostril
> Repeat 4 – 10 times
What good does this circus routine get you? This trick is regulating your breathing. When we are nervous, our hearts are bounding at a rate we cannot keep up with, leaving us gasping for air as we sing later. So, to combat this, we need to regulate our breathing before stepping onto the platform. As you sit in your seat, give this trick a subtle try. (Are you worried about it looking like you are picking your nose? You don’t have to be obvious; just casually give a scratch posture as you do the breathing. Do what works best for you!)
- Cotton Mouth Combat
If you experience a parched feeling as you sing, you may be experiencing what is known as cotton mouth. Essentially, your entire mouth dries up and feels like a giant cotton ball. This can be highly frustrating while on the platform. You are trying to sing and be in the moment, but you struggle to vocalize well because of this dryness. So what can you do?
> Take the sides of your teeth and gently bite down on the edge of your tongue
Do this simple trick while on the platform. This trick is forcing your mouth to create syliva. Look for a long interlude or a verse you’re not leading; that’s your moment to fix the cotton mouth problem.
- Preparation is Key
Rehearsals can seem like a pain, maybe even inconvenient for your schedule. I want to tell you a short story. I’ve had many “first” experiences with worship ministries. This means I’ve participated in many first rehearsals and “first” worship-leading experiences with various ministries and churches.
During one of these firsts, this particular worship ministry sent an email two weeks ahead of time with the set list, PDFs with parts specified, and a Spotify playlist. Then, we had our rehearsal on a Wednesday evening. At this rehearsal, we practiced each song twice and worked adjustments, then did a complete run-through and recorded it. The next day, we had a well-mixed mp4 to listen to. I remember thinking, “This seems like overkill.”
As I stepped onto this particular platform for the first time, I did not experience an ounce of nervousness. I felt confident and ready to give this time to the Lord. I wasn’t worried about singing the correct part because it had been written beforehand, and I had practiced well. I wasn’t concerned about what song was coming next or how many were left – because we ran them in order many times. My mind was completely undistracted by these common avenues of worry; instead, I was fully present with the Lord during this time of worship.
This was the first time of all my “firsts” I experienced zero anxiety stepping onto the platform. It may have seemed like overkill, but I now understand the importance of practicing until you can’t mess up. Preparation is vital to having you and your team fully present during worship.
- The Pressure is Off
Breaking through nervousness is not only a physical game, but it is a mind game as well. You psych yourself out as you consider who in the room might be critical of you afterward. You worry about the impression people will receive of you. You stress about being vulnerable from the platform. You fear failure.
THE PRESSURE IS OFF!! So what if you missed a word? The world does not end; your reputation will not be tainted. If people make jokes, joke with them and laugh it off. The Lord hears your heart posture, not your mess ups. People hear your mess ups, but it is hard for them to criticize when they see your heart posture. Don’t pressure yourself to be perfect on the platform; just be genuine.
Savannah studied Music and Worship at Liberty University and currently serves as the Community Director with Next Level Worship International. She is the author of Unlocking Worship. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Tyler and their sweet goldendoodle, Wojo.” In my spare time I find myself pondering theological topics and diving into biblical concepts. I strive to model my life after this verse: Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, so it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people.”
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