Puberty began to change me when I was a young boy in middle school. I shot up several inches over the summer and like a shrine dedicated to the onset of manhood, a lone hair popped out on my tiny bird chest.
One of the most embarrassing transformations was my voice. Every man knows the humiliation of the cracking speech that occurs as the hormones surge into your unsuspecting vocal cords. One moment your new bravado is making girl's heads turn and you're ready to sign on as the new school DJ. Then without warning, your throat crackles and suddenly kicks up a couple of octaves to release the operatic soprano voice of a six-year-old girl.
You stop speaking mid-sentence and glance around the room as your face first drains of all color, then explodes into a flushed scarlet that sets your ears on fire. You hear snickers and see fake smiles fade as people turn and walk away... your dreams of a radio career dashed on the cruel rocks of pubescence.
Those memories were a long time ago for me; but once in a while, the same feelings wash over me. It's those times when I'm moving boldly in some God-given gifting, but I think someone may find out I'm a fraud—that I don't really have the goods and I'm bamboozling everyone.
The disciples of the early church could have been tempted to lose their bravado. In Acts 4:13-20, the Sanhedrin observed Peter and John were merely uneducated men. Yet they were astonished by their boldness and recognized that these common men had been with Jesus. They couldn't deny these Christ-followers emitted something unnatural.
When we spend time with Jesus, it's a game-changer.
All the old labels are ripped off. Victim, thief, addict, divorced, ex-convict, fornicator, unfaithful, liar, unemployed, whatever—they vanish. So often we live our lives based on these tired, old facts that Satan brings up, instead of living our life based on truth. Facts say "I'm a _____, therefore I'm disqualified." But truth says, "I’m a new creature because Christ has changed and qualified me."
When we spend time with Jesus, those facts of our past that we think define us and hold us back, are wiped away. Our voices may crack but our identity is being changed and people recognize that transformation.
The religious leaders were dumbfounded, asking each other, "What do we do with these men?" They tried to slap them with a gag order but Peter and John refused to be controlled by intimidation. The disciples continued to speak out and spread the gospel message.
When you move within your expertise, do you ever feel like people might think you're a phony? Does Satan try to discourage and shut you down? Do you feel like an adolescent boy whose voice is cracking? Spend time with Jesus Christ and allow Him to eradicate your labels and flood you with boldness and confidence—cultivating your character to move with confidence in your skills and gifts.
Discover your purpose. Determine your role. Develop your voice. Then speak, oh mighty child of God! Paul says, "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV).
If you want to engage with the teenagers in your life and share in spiritual conversations, share these entertaining anime videos created by Jesus Film Project, with your children or youth group today.
*Inspired by a message from Daniel Rolfe, Mountain Springs Church, Colorado Springs