"I feel called to speak but I haven't been given the opportunity yet. What should I do?"
Recently I was asked to fill in for another speaker at an event where the original speaker’s daughter had fallen ill. It was a large event and one that had been scheduled for many months. Tickets had been sold in advance and I had actually paid to attend the event myself. The event would be held on a Saturday morning and due to the extremely unfortunate circumstances regarding her daughter, I was asked to speak around 6:30 p.m. the Friday night before. Of course, I wanted to accept the invitation to play backup as I hold the original speaker with much respect, but I immediately worried about how the audience would feel. After all, I was not the one advertised to speak. What would people think? Would they be disappointed? Goodness, I knew I was already disappointed myself as I love sitting under the original speaker. It’s rare that I listen to her and don’t walk away impacted. Fears about not being “perfect” and about not being “prepared enough” began to take hold…I should have totally said no.
I immediately said yes.
As I pondered all of those things, the Lord quickly brought to mind a message He had given to me 2 years earlier. It was a message He had given me for another event similar to the one I was asked to fill in for. As I battled my insecurities about the audience and offered up prayers for the sick daughter, I drug out my laptop and pulled up that old message. Sure enough, the Lord began to give fresh insights into a buried 2 year old message…revisions, updates, and edits took over and I can testify now that the Lord blessed this event in a mighty way.
The reason I write this is because the Lord taught me a very valuable lesson about how He often runs His game plans in our lives: “Stay prepared in season and out of season. The Coach knows who He can trust to carry the ball.”
As your fellow teammate, I thought I’d drop just few tips I’ve learned along the way that can help you stay prepared while you’re waiting for your time on the field:
1. Do you feel called to speak? Then start writing now the messages God has laid on your heart before you have been asked to speak at an event. Journal all of the time. As you position yourself each day before the Lord, write out the things He is actively showing you. There will be a time you will be asked to draw on those resources. Attend training events for speakers. All natural gifts still need to be professionally developed.
2. Do you feel called to write a book but don’t have a book deal? Start writing your chapters now. Stop telling yourself you're not good enough. Seriously. Just start writing. Ask trusted friends to read things you’ve written. Attend writing workshops.
3. Garner wise counsel from those who love you after they have read/listened to your messages. Weigh it. Pray over it. Keep what you should and toss what you can.
4. Stay teachable. You don’t know it all. Remind yourself that you don’t know it all. It keeps you moldable.
5. Stay humble. That goes hand in hand with staying teachable. There is always more to learn from others who have gone before you. And pride makes for a terrible teacher.
6. Read and learn from others who have written and spoken generations before you. You will learn that there is truly nothing new under the sun. You’ll find that the wisdom you can learn from a Quaker (Hannah Whitall Smith) who wrote in 1875 will often solidify an encouraging word that a charismatic (Christine Caine) has spoken in 2018. The Lord’s message is unchanging, it fits with His character, and reminds us that if He can use a Quaker and a Charismatic to speak the same message in different seasons, He can certainly use you in yours.
7. Build relationships with those who are denominationally/racially/culturally different than you. Let’s call it pre-game stretching. It’s required to be a strong competitor on the field and parallels what makes us strong in our faith. You’ll find that while worship styles may differ, what you learn from each other will deepen your understanding that not one brand has it exactly right. I figure Heaven will be a great revealer of what we all got wrong and what we got right while here. However, trusting the Lord with all of that opens the door for a greater love relationship with others that are unlike yourself. I happen to believe that that is what the Lord is really looking for anyway.
I would also add just this one thing: There is no amount of preparedness that can replace what happens when the Lord shows up. We prepare well because we want to reveal the excellence of God, but it doesn’t (and can’t!) replace what happens in the presence of God. He will honor your preparedness but the outcome is still wholly dependent on the work that the Holy Spirit does through you.
Are you ready to be put in the game at any time? Are you ready for the call at the 11th hour? Then start preparing now. This is one thing you don’t have to wait on. Do what you can do now, and depend on God to do what only He can do later. You will be blessed and God will get all the glory.