There are three people in my life who have a true phobia of public speaking: My grandma, an 85 year old life-long member who has never spoken in Sacrament meeting; my husband, who gave a handful of talks for mission purposes and never again; and my sister Annie, who once observed with growing dread a member of the bishopric approaching her in the hallway and burst into tears before he could even finish asking the question. Pro-tip: If you hate public speaking, do that. He hastily retreated and has never made eye contact with her since!
As someone who has an actual phobia (though not that particular one; mine is much stranger), I empathize. And while I’m fairly certain that my Perceived Righteousness will never come down to my ability to face my own irrational fear, for people with a severe aversion to public speaking, it could. When I was in high school, there were six minutes left at the end of a Stake Conference and the evil first counselor called on my friend to spontaneously come up and fill out the rest of the meeting with her testimony*. She was poised under the pressure and people were in awe of her for months. But what would have been the overall opinion of a panicky Young Woman who flat-out refused the request? Who sat frozen to her pew, shaking her head, wild-eyed?
Anyway, I thought a couple of polls and a discussion were in order. I tried to cover every possible angle but there’s always the comments section to expound on your choice in case I failed.
Me, I’m somewhere around the 4th option. I’d rather not be asked and I’m always nervous to speak, but I do a serviceable job. Fortunately, we’ve mostly lived in wards where couples share the pulpit each week, so Jon’s phobia has automatically disqualified me (thanks, honey!)
Additional discussion: Do you have any full-blown phobias? How does that color your responses? Do you conflate willingness to speak in Sacrament meeting with strength of testimony, even subconsciously?
*Yeah, don’t do this.