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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Who Is in the Chairs?

I’m a retreat girl. There’s no doubt, but I had forgotten since I hadn’t led one in a while.

I think I love retreats so much because I’m highly relational. Retreats give time and space for women to begin to break down the walls and get to know each other quickly on a deeper level.

Last weekend, I led a beach retreat (heavenly fellowship located near heaven), and the deep sharing started from the get-go as each woman introduced herself. Boy, there was a lot of pain and hurt behind some of those beautiful faces, and I immediately began reassessing my message. In my mind, I cut and pasted before I began to speak based on some of the things I heard in the introductions.

In a non-retreat setting, we rarely get much insight into the faces looking into ours as we speak, but it’s important to try to think through who will be filling the chairs at an event.

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Some of the blanks can be filled in as we talk to event planners. We can ask questions like:

  • Will there be both males and females at the event or just women?
  • What is the age range?
  • Are there any special populations I should be aware of? (ie. miliary wives, grief groups, homeless, etc)

But we need to think beyond those basic categories. This weekend I was more aware than ever that I need to realize statistically there will be certain circumstances represented in a group of women:

  • There will be married women.
  • There will be women that have never married.
  • There will be women whose marriage is in crisis.
  • There will be divorced women.
  • There will be women whose husbands had an affair.
  • There will be women who have had abortions.
  • There will be women who have experienced a significant death recently.
  • There will be women who are in the midst of infertility.
  • There will be women who are struggling as moms.

You get the gist. Although I’m tender-hearted and try to be sensitive, I realized this weekend that I hadn’t run my message through the filter of considering the hurts in my audience. I was speaking as a happily married woman with children who are doing pretty well (Right now. They’re young, so I’m humble enough to know that could change tomorrow!).

I don’t think that it’s a bad thing to speak from my personal, current perspective, but I want to make sure I treat my audience with love and care.

Being a speaker is a huge responsibility. How are you careful to manage that responsibility?

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