Monday, October 27, 2014

What to Do While You Wait

The discouragement in my friend’s voice cracked my heart as I listened. “I just want to speak and write,” she said. “And I don’t know how to make that happen.”

I’ve been there.

And I’ll bet you have too. Here’s the thing… My friend is incredible. She really is. I love  reading every blog post she writes, and although I haven’t heard her speak yet, I already know she rocks the room. She’s a Jesus-loving girl who is incredibly smart and talented. She has a powerful message, and she’s dying to share it. Just like you, I’ll bet.

So what’s the problem?

I wish I could tell her. I want to give her a formula for how to create a breakthrough. If I had that formula, I’d give it to her and to you for free right this very minute.

But I don’t.

waiting pic Photo Credit

All I can tell you is that you’re not alone. I know waiting is hard because I’ve waited too. I’ve been passed over for the big event. I’ve received mailboxes full of rejection letters. I’ve felt the urge to do more and known I was capable of more, yet the doors stayed shut. It doesn’t feel good to wait, but there are some things that you should do while you wait. There are lots of things you don’t have control over to “make it happen”, but here are some areas you can control to make yourself ready when the doors start to swing open:

1. Make it all count. For years and years, I’ve written one blog post after another.  I’ve written a devotion a month for almost a decade. While I was doing the work, I saw each one as completely separate and (truthfully)not  as very valuable.

A friend who has published multiple books gave me great advice when I started writing my book (more info to come!). She told me to take my chapter descriptions and go through all my devotions, messages, and blog posts from the very beginning. “Mine those for your stories and teaching,” she wisely counseled. “Make a list of your past writing under each chapter title where it might belong. Before you start writing a chapter, see if there is content you’ve developed in the past that would fit in the chapter.”

Wowza! It was a revelation!! Re-reading all my past content made me see my journey. So much of it was related to my current book, and I could see how God has been teaching me and healing me.

Don’t make the same mistake I did for years. I didn’t think all those “little” investments of work mattered. All your work matters, so make it all count. (Click here to Tweet) Be purposeful. Be intentional. Be impactful.

2. Build relationships through service. There are so many ways to serve others. Write online book reviews for your favorite speakers and authors. Write a guest blog post for a blogging friend. Speak for free. Do the announcements or emcee an event. I listened to a webinar by Kathi Lipp last week where she advised interning for a local speaker to learn the “business” of ministry. Say “yes” as often as you possibly can.

We shouldn’t serve expecting to get something in return (Just like most people, I have a nose for that, and I don’t like it.), but people who we serve often want to help us when it’s our turn. For example, Kathi shared she often refers her interns when she’s unable to speak for an event. My friend who was the catalyst for this article is reading my manuscript and giving me enormously valuable feedback. I know she’s doing it because she loves me, but you’d better believe I’ll throw all my energy into helping her when it’s her turn. (And I guarantee it WILL be her turn some day!!)

3. Invest in your growth. This is the most important one. While you’re waiting, make sure you’re ready for opportunity. Read blogs. Read books. Practice every chance you get. Share your message for free. Invest in coaching opportunities like Next StepPlatform University, or Compel. Attend conferences like She Speaks or Allume.

Most importantly, invest in your spiritual growth. Be very, very careful not to spend so much time working in ministry that you forget Who it’s all for. Enjoy God by spending time alone with Him each day. Take a spiritual retreat. Do a study. Fellowship with friends who are growing too. Be ruthless with your own sin. Pursue a spiritual mentor. Do what it takes to grow, grow, grow! (While you’re pursuing God, you’ll fall so in love with Him that the waiting will be easier –not easy, just easier. Avoid Him and the wait will be excruciating and fruitless.)

I’m grateful for the years of spiritual formation before doors began to open. I’m thankful that each opportunity seems to follow my children needing me less. Although I wasn’t at the time, I’m glad I wrote all those devotions and blog posts that often felt like a waste of time. God’s timing is perfect, friends. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but He always has purpose in the wait.

Amy

 

 

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why It’s Essential to Be Yourself

 

Recently, Casey Graham of Preaching Rocket, sent out 10 emails with The 10 Commandments for Preaching. I thought this one was fantastic, so I asked permission to reprint it. Even though he is targeting preachers, you can replace with your name or “speaker”. :) Enjoy!

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s style.

The year we started Preaching Rocket, we decided to embark on a 9-city tour.  It kicked off at North Point Community Church, which is my home church.

The one-day conference had four sessions, and I was the fourth and final speaker.

Though I’ve spoken in front of people for 20 years, I was extremely nervous.  Not only was I following Jeff Henderson, Andy Stanley and Louie Giglio on the schedule, I had a lot of emotion and worry about standing on that stage.

I ended up rushing through the content.  It may not have been bad, but it wasn’t my best.  I felt like my talk was flat, and it didn’t connect with the audience.

And that’s what a couple of people said in the post-event evaluation.  One commenter said, “He may be a nice guy, but clearly, he’s not a public speaker.” 

Ouch.

I’m not going to lie…feedback like that hurt.  My first response was to email back and say, “Hey, I was a youth pastor and I was a pastor and I spoke to 2,000 people”  And on and on and on.

But if I want to get better, I’ve got to hear that feedback.  I’ve got to process that feedback.  And I’ve got to keep working. And hearing other people’s feedback led me to my own personal evaluation.

Pushing my content through the plasma screen like Andy Stanley masterfully does just isn’t me.  I didn’t communicate with my own unique voice.  I let the size of the stage get to me.  In the end, I wasn’t comfortable on that stage, and I was not secure in my own style.

The issue wasn’t my content, but how I delivered it.  I tried to speak like someone else.

Which is a lot light fighting Goliath wearing someone else’s armor.

David couldn’t fight in Saul’s armor, so maybe Michael shouldn’t preach with Andy’s plasma screen TV.

Now, take a look at this map…

When I took that screenshot a couple of months ago, it represented all of the pastors who were a part of the Preaching Rocket program.

And you know what?

No two pastors are alike.  Their stories are different.  Their congregations are different.  Their styles are different.

Some of these pastors serve in mega-churches – giant churches you’ve heard of.  Some of them are in the middle of nowhere – rural America.  Some of them are in urban areas, and some of them don’t speak English.

There’s great diversity in the Kingdom of God.

God didn’t call you to be a Xerox copy of someone else.

Your background is unique.  Your successes and failures are unique.  Your perspective is unique.  And your style is unique.

So I wanted to encourage today with this…just be yourself.   And don’t covet your neighbor’s preaching style.

Thank you to Casey Graham and Preaching Rocket!! I hope you’re encouraged. Check out this deal from them. For more info, just click on the link.

Reformation Day #2

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

In Our Weakness

I was looking for something to encourage you today, and this is what I found.

Inspirational-Quotes-Encouraging-Quotes-Every-Weakness-You-Have-Is-An-Opportunity

Funny enough, it’s exactly what I needed, so I hope it lifts you up today.

Yesterday I spent all day editing my first book. It’s a glorious opportunity, and I’m thankful. I’ve got to tell you, though, that it’s stinkin’ hard.

It’s making me be vulnerable, and it’s leaving me raw. I’m realizing how much I DON’T know about writing. I’m working alone a lot when I love being with people.

But this quote reminded me that the work being done on us is usually in our weakness, and it has a purpose.

God’s glory.

It doesn’t take long to see the good when I take that perspective. I believe He’ll get glory for forcing me to lean on Him. I believe He’ll get glory for open doors. I believe He’ll get glory for every highly edited word in my book. :) I believe He’ll get glory for the change the message makes in women’s hearts.

Is God doing anything in your life that’s leaving you feeling week? Please tell me I’m not alone! (I CRAVE community right now!) How do you see Him getting glory in your weakness?

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