On Tuesday I had a moment of silent nervous panic. I was leading the service of Holy Communion at the Methodist Council and took a proper look at the "congregation".
Among those gathered were people who have served the Church in senior positions (lay and ordained) for years and years. There are young people whose commitment puts me to shame. There are people who were involved in the selection process for ministers when I went through it. There were people who trained me. And lots more.
It is the sort of thing that put me off responding to God's call for years. The sort of thing that not so many years ago would have had me going bright red and lapsing into even more incoherence than usual.
But this time a quick gulp to myself and on we went.
I had similar feelings when moving to my current appointment and discovered how large the congregation in Syston would be compared to the churches I have served before.
I had similar experiences (but coped so much less well with them) when I first started training as a local preacher with services that only demonstrated how loving, gentle and kind Methodist people can be.
Also when I first led a house group, when I was first a Church Steward and the list goes on and on.
It is at times like these that I look back and am reminded of the long journey of change that I have been on and of the people who have been important to me on that journey.
At the moment these sorts of experiences are being explored right across the Leicester North Circuit, we are approaching the end of the first week of the course Just Walk Across the Room and I am delighted by the feedback from the small groups (2 groups still to meet for the first time, one tonight and one tomorrow morning). The numbers are up even from the sign-up sheets (and those numbers exceeded our expectations). Not only that but people have been very positive about the experience and very encouraged by the stories that are being shared.
Being nervous about speaking & leading is quite normal, but what a wonderful thing it is when we are able to share and learn from others ,as well as have our own responses (faltering though they seem) affirmed by others. Already I have been hearing some fantastic testimonies where people have shared the difference someone made in their life. It is very special when we see these from the other side and watch someone hear of the difference they made in a friends life.