Posted by: gmscan | October 19, 2010

On Being a Lay Reader

I was asked to be a lay reader at my church this past Sunday. It is the third time I’ve done it.

You would think this wouldn’t be much of a challenge. I’ve given hundreds of speeches on health care to audiences of all sizes all over the United States. I’m very comfortable doing it, and can talk for anywhere from five minutes to an hour and a half. Audiences generally think I do a pretty good job or they wouldn’t invite me back.

Being a lay reader should be simple. It just involves saying an opening prayer and reading a few passages of scripture, most often from the Old Testament. I also have to hand the offering plates to the ushers and sometimes see if there are announcements from the congregation.

But for some reason I get very nervous up there. I think it is because I still feel unsure of my faith.

In health care, I know what I’m talking about. I know the issues, the people, the history, backwards and forwards. There aren’t many questions I can’t answer and when there are, I’m comfortable simply saying that I don’t know, I haven’t studied it. That doesn’t detract from everything else I might be talking about.

But in Church I feel like a toddler. Almost everyone knows more than I do. What in the world am I doing up there in front of the congregation helping to lead a service?

But for some reason I have been given this opportunity to grow. My nervousness reminds me of how much I don’t know and how much more I need to do. I will not turn down the invitation to serve, but I will ask God to take my hand and show me the way.

There are other reminders of how immature my faith is. Friday mornings at 6:30 a.m., I participate in a men’s study group. We each contribute to the prayer each week. My prayers seem to me stilted and formulaic, while the other men pray as if they are having a conversation with an old friend. What a wonderful place to be — to know Jesus like an old friend. I hope to be like that some day, much like toddlers hope to grow and become more like the big kids around them.

Meanwhile, I have already discovered that no matter how clumsy my prayers may be, they are always answered, usually the very next day. For example, I have been asking God to light the path He wants me to take and then I read something a friend gave me that said Jesus is the light. Wow! I don’t need to ask for the path to be lit, it already is. All I need to do is open my eyes and see it.

I grow a little every day. My steps may still be wobbly, but they are getting stronger, and I can feel the people in my church cheering me on to keep going.



  1. Please read “When God Winks” by Squire Rushnell. I think it will help with your prayers and give you the confidence that you don’t need to find God, he is already there around you. Those prayers answered as not a coincidence. Coincidences are when God wants to remain anonymous.

  2. Greg:
    Your responses to your new experiences are very natural.
    Who wouldn’t be nervous about doing things for the first time, or even second or third time?
    My dad gave me some great advice years ago, which I need to keep more in mind: “Don, people aren’t thinking about you as much as you think they are.”
    Some Christians will disagree with me, but I think faith is the flip side of doubt.
    Let your doubts serve as a challenge to strengthen your faith, not weaken it.
    Your ability to “make it through” will give you a history that will strengthen your faith.
    And, while knowledge of the Bible is helpful, sometimes the heart responds better to the basics of what you already know.
    Don Levit

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