Do you listen in to “Use Your Words” on Blog Talk Radio? Every Tuesday at noon EST we talk for an hour about speaking! You can listen afterwards, too, if you can’t make it live.
This Tuesday we were privileged to have on Robin Giles chat with us about how to tell your testimony, and how to work up the courage to tell your story. Near the end of the conversation, we drifted into the areas in which God has stretched us in speaking. And so I’d like to warn you about some of the things God will stretch you about:
When you start speaking, you’ve got to start traveling! This was a hard one for me because I didn’t learn to drive until I was around 28. Then, in my early 30s, I started being flown places where I was expected to rent a car, navigate highways I’d never been on, and get to destinations on time. I think my blood pressure went through the roof! I was so nervous.
And yet today driving on highways doesn’t bother me much at all. I still have an issue with parking garages, but that’s another story!
When you speak, you’ll have to drive. You’ll have to navigate weather, since engagements proceed no matter what the weather is. You’ll have to figure out train times and rental car places and even how to find places on a map. A GPS will become your best friend.
Many of us speakers are home town girls. We like hanging out at home, or at church, or with our friends. And now we have to go out and take on the world! For me, it was quite a stretch!
2. Conversing with Strangers.
God will ask you to speak to total strangers. I don’t mean speaking from the stage; for most of us that’s par for the course. I mean we’ll have to speak to the organizers, the women at the event, the helpers. We’ll have to have a smile on our faces, even if we’re nervous. We’ll have to learn to chat, to ask questions, to make small talk. We’ll need to learn to project an air of ease even if we’re not feeling it. Even if we’d rather go alone into a room and pray, or maybe even into the bathroom to throw up because we’re nervous, we’re going to have to learn to work a room.
I find speaking from a stage much easier than speaking to three or four women I don’t know. What will we talk about? How will I keep the conversation going? That’s a little scary for me. And yet I’ve learned over the years not to focus on how I’m feeling, but to ask God to be a blessing to the women I meet, and for them to be a blessing to me! I’ve met the most interesting women as I speak, and many of them have proved helpful in other areas of my life. I’ve met moms with great homeschooling ideas, and women who head up charities in Africa that I’m interested in, and women with musical experience who have given me some great advice about my daughters. I’m at the point now where I’m excited to see which women I’m going to meet! But believe me, at first, that was a BIG stretch!
3. Telling Strangers Your Secrets.
I firmly believe that speaking is far more life-changing and significant when we share not just out of our strengths, but especially out of our struggles. It is in our struggles where God is most often glorified, and when we share the things that we have hurt over, and cried over, and worried over, we also share how God lifted us out of that. And we can’t share the lifting without the also sharing the hurting.
Telling people your story is difficult. There are things I don’t particularly like talking about, but I know those are the things that most touch people. Being willing to use those things as you speak is a way that God can take the bad things in your life and use them for good. It’s a way for God to redeem your story. But it’s not easy!
4. Giving a Gospel Invitation.
Robin and I laughed at this one on Tuesday, because it’s something that we both do quite often, but it’s not something we ever knew how to do at the beginning. For those of you who grow up in church, you’ve likely heard dozens of gospel invitations in your life. But do you know how to give one?
Robin shared that when she first was asked to give them, she realized she had better pay a lot more attention to how other people gave them, because even though you sit through them, you don’t necessarily know what goes into one. I’ll write another post next week on how to give a gospel message, but that was a big stretch for both of us!
And one reason it’s difficult is because we think the number of people who respond somehow reflects on whether or not we did a good job. It’s like a method for grading your presentation, and that’s rather stressful! Plus, what if we do a bad job? Will people fail to be saved because we don’t give the message properly?
What we need to do in both of these issues is to get our eyes off of ourselves and onto God. It is God who makes people respond, not us. There are things that are good to include in a gospel message, but all those things are really incidental to whether or not God is at work in the person’s heart. Sometimes your job is just to water the seed. I spoke at a women’s breakfast last weekend where about 33% of the unbelievers in the audience accepted Christ. It was marvelous! The organizers had little booklets to give to the new Christians, but she quickly ran out and we all had to improvise. The response was much higher than any of us had anticipated.
Was it because I did a particularly good job? I think my talk was effective on Saturday, but I’ve given that talk lots of times and haven’t seen that kind of a response rate. I think it’s more likely because the church has been holding that breakfast for 11 years. Many of those women have been coming out, hearing a gospel message year after year, and just weren’t ready to respond until today.
I had the joy of seeing those women put up their hands, but other speakers who were there last year, and the year before, were just as instrumental.
You will need to learn to give a gospel invitation, but only as a tool for God to work. It is He who works, not you. And it is He who gives strength when we are weak. It is He who equips. So don’t worry too much about being stretched! God is the one who is stretching you, and He will be there to help!
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