In my every day life, I think that my friends and family would use words like this to describe me–expressive, animated, passionate, perky… You get the picture.
Sometimes it’s a different thing when I walk on to the stage, however. At times I think I’d be described as guarded, cautious, staid…
What’s the difference? Although I’ve come a very long way, I still recognize a sort of self-protective layer that I’m working to eradicate from my speaking. I really believe that we’re past the days of audiences valuing a self-possessed, polished and “professional” speaker. (I put professional in quotes, because I still believe in professionalism that isn’t synonymous with “stand-offish” or “above it all”.)
I believe that audiences are dying for someone that’s the real thing. Someone who struggles like they struggle. Someone who is willing to be vulnerable. Someone who teaches from a place of humanness rather than a place of authority.
So why do we as speakers hesitate to step into this place of humility? In talking to one of my precious NSSS clients last week, I urged her to step into a place of vulnerability and true sharing of her story. I could tell that she was holding back and not sharing fully. (Takes one to know one!) She blurted out, “But Amy, I don’t WANT to share opening. I used to do that when I first started speaking, but I’ve been judged and hurt. I don’t want to do that any more!”
I loved her honesty.
Maybe you’re in that place as well. I’d like to share this verse with you. In Matthew 13:52, Jesus says this to His followers in a passage right on the heals of one about the judgement of the world, ” He said to them,’Every teacher of the law who has been taught about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house. He brings new treasures out of his storeroom as well as old ones.'”
We teachers have all been given treasures to share–some of them old, some of them new. Some of those old places aren’t very pretty. They are things that we’d like to relegate to the back of our storerooms, covered with dust that we hope will hide them from the world.
Jesus asks us to dust them off and bring them into the light. He asks us to tell the story of His redemption of those places.
He does it for one sole purpose.
He is on a mission through us to save the world.
Are we on the same mission? Are we willing to be misunderstood, judged, criticized, or hurt to be on the same mission as Jesus? Will we pull the old things out of our storerooms so that just one can know she’s not alone in her struggle but that Jesus cares and saves? Will we make ourselves vulnerable so that one might be saved from judgement?
These are the hard questions that I’ve been asking myself as I work on my messages.
I’m so proud to give the report that my dear client made the decision to say “yes” to vulnerability. She’s going to present the real thing to her audience this week. I can’t wait to hear about how God moves!