How to shake off shame
Guest Blog: By Nick Lackey
If you’re anything like me, you have spent years and years “knowing” God but exalting self. I don’t mean exalting yourself as in you always need crowds clapping for you or even require constant compliments.
I mean the normal, discreet exaltation that most Christians practice, but never develop the conviction to quit.
In my case, I have been leading worship for about two and a half years now and it has been a roller-coaster ride since the beginning.
But prior to that, I never sang in front of anyone. Besides, of course, the social media followers I had in High School who had to endure my sick acoustic covers of “Sweater Weather” by The Neighborhood.
And oddly enough, I thought that would be the best way to join a worship team or band - as an open canvas.
But when I finally got my shot, the naivety of being a fresh follower of Christ, let alone a worship leader, placed me directly in the tension that is Truth vs. shame.
The Truth of what God knew about me vs. the shame of what I felt about myself.
The initial excitement for the incredible opportunity quickly turned into feelings of inferiority. I felt my sins and shortcomings were magnified any time I was on a stage - and maybe they were.
Trembling with fear, focused on the obnoxious tick of click tracks, and consumed with my own faults is how I led worship for the first few months.
I thought: “God, I’m finally doing what you asked, can I get a little help here?”
And even worse, if you know me, you know that I wear my emotions on my sleeve. Which led to me standing on stage, feet glued to the floor, blankly strumming my guitar, and singing with a significant frown… and it was the absolute best I could bring myself to do.
I lacked passion and was filled with shame. I was in no place to lead anyone.
Fortunately, God was glorified no matter how I felt.
But, being covered in shame still kept me from my full potential. It paralyzed me, robbed my confidence, led to internal lies, and ultimately produced a life of ineffectiveness for God.
Back in Genesis, when Adam and Eve clothed themselves due to the shame of being naked, shame is referred to as a feeling. Let me say that again: shame is nothing but a feeling. A really big, debilitating feeling... but still just a feeling!
A feeling that was not factual. It was present, but not pertinent to who God was transforming me into.
The real turning point came when I read through the classic passage of John 15. You know, Jesus’ not so discreet words telling us that we are useless in our own strength.
It reads: “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
How had I forgotten this? I knew this verse forward and backwards. But somehow it fell onto the back burner in my mind as I let shame set in. Shame tends to overshadow the superior truths of God - if we let it.
For me, shame set in when I had more faith in my works than Jesus’ finished work on the cross. When I replaced Jesus’ perfect grace with striving for perfection myself. After I traded in thinking much of God with thinking much of me.
I pursued perfection rather than worshipping my perfect savior.
After a sobering bible study in John 15, the way I led worship changed. I sang to God confidently. I declared His beauty and His perfection. I even moved my feet around a little bit!
For those reading, my prayer is that this post would help you shake off shame, either for the very first time or for the 50th. I also hope that it emphasizes the power of scripture and the impact God’s word can have on your life.
If you want to talk more about the topic of shame in the church feel free to send me a DM on Instagram @nicklackey, I’d love to walk with you through it.