Last week I attended the annual Proverbs 31 conference for women communicators in ministry, She Speaks. A lot of you prayed for me (many thanks) and have been asking how it went. Given that I spent 28 of 48 hours in meetings, there are about 100 different facets I could get into, but most of those will have to wait until we can get together over a cup of coffee.
For now, I’ll try to stick to the bird’s eye view (try being the operative word – I’m a communicator, which means I often over-communicate 🙂 ).
There were really two elements to the conference that at times were separate and at other times blended together.
The Practical Element
These are all the things you’d expect from an event geared to help people speak and write better. I attended 6 breakout sessions on the “how to’s” of speaking (mostly) and writing (a little bit).
- I learned things like the 5 different communication styles, the pros and cons of each, and which one I lean toward.
- I learned how to combat stage fright by remembering it’s God I want people to be impressed with, not me, and to eat bananas and orange juice to avoid vomiting all over the audience (not a good way to open, apparently).
- I learned the importance of giving the audience one memorable statement to take with them when they leave.
- I learned what questions to ask myself to discover my core message and comprehensive mission in ministry.
- I learned to never communicate publicly out of my pain, only out of my healing.
- I learned the 4 parts of a message and when and how to use them.
The Heart Element
Between the messages from the four keynote speakers, the four times of worship, and the room they set aside specifically for prayer, this part of the conference served as a refreshing retreat/encouraging pep talk/terrifying warning of what we are really getting ourselves into by saying we want to be speakers and writers for the Lord.
Some speakers were soft and encouraging, telling us we already have everything we need – God Himself – to be all that He wants us to be. We can rest in His sovereignty.
Others, like Lysa TerKeurst and Christine Caine, specifically, both spoke on the ways in which the Lord had to bring about growth in them in very painful ways before He was ready to use them in public ministry (and once they got into said ministry, even more painful growth occurred for Lysa). Many speakers testified to incredibly difficult spiritual attacks on themselves and their families as a result of their ministries. Christine’s urgent pleading with us to be sure “the Light within us is greater than the light upon us” so we won’t be destroyed by the spotlight really made me understand the gravity of what I’m pursuing. She also said, “To write and speak about the things of God, you must go through things with God.” Great communicators don’t become great without being willing to let the Lord cut open their hearts and fix what ails them with no anesthetic. Am I willing? And if I am willing, is it only because I want personal fame? I can’t remember her exact statement, but Christine said something along the lines that people who use God’s Church for their own agenda – to inflate their own egos, in particular – should be especially terrified on Judgment Day. Debatable theology aside, I got her point – those who humble themselves will be exalted and those who exalt themselves will be humbled… in the worst kind of way. It was a reality check in a lot of ways that our hearts needed (and will continue to need throughout our ministries).
All the speakers, whether in breakout sessions or main sessions, emphasized the same two things.
- Don’t try to force anything to happen. Wait on Him to show you what to do and when to do it. Don’t try to figure out His master plan. He will do in and through you what He wants to do. Just focus on your relationship with Him and keep your spiritual eyes and ears open.
- Pray more than you prepare. One speaker, Whitney Capps, said, “Say what God has given you permission to say, not what you want to say.” Another speaker, Karen Ehman, spoke to the fact that God knows our audiences’ needs better than we do and will help us get in touch with those needs, leading us to what we need to say, through prayer.
As I said above, there are a lot more stories to tell about things the Lord impressed upon me – like how in His sovereignty He didn’t create enough space in two optional portions of the conference I really wanted to attend so that I would go to two alternate things instead, both of which spoke about the exact same thing – Billy Graham’s model of keeping his relationship with the Lord of primary importance in all things. The Lord drove this point home to me over and over. There are no coincidences.
But I’ll end this post with one last story. Despite not meeting all their qualifications, iDisciple, an online resource for all kinds of Christian content from music to sermons to devotionals, agreed to interview me to be a contributor, in part because of the glowing reviews you guys wrote for me (again, many thanks). It was a completely peaceful experience in which I shared with them my testimony, my writing style, and where I saw myself fitting into their ministry. It went well, and not once did I feel a need to “make anything happen” in that interview. Although it would be a wonderful opportunity to be featured on a site that includes writing from people you’ve heard of (Ravi Zacharias, Beth Moore, Louie Giglio, just to name a few), I’ve really felt during the whole process that I want iDisciple to get the right writers for their ministry to accomplish the Kingdom goals the Lord has for them. If that includes me, great. If not, great. They are going to read more of my blog content and get back to me.
Thank you so much for your support leading up to and during the conference. I received many encouraging texts, emails, hugs and prayers, complete with happy tears, from you guys. I am so thankful to have you along on this journey with me. Please continue to pray for me to spend ample time with the Lord in prayer and in His Word both to prepare my heart for whatever ministry He has for me in the days and years ahead as well as to prepare specifically for any teaching, speaking, and writing I do. Pray also that He would help me identify more specifically what my core message and mission ought to be and what my next step should be. Lastly, pray for spiritual protection for me and my family as I continue to pursue public ministry. Thank you!