I was 19 when I knew I wanted to be a speaker and author. I didn’t know of what, but I actually had it on my 10 year bucket list. Yes, I had one! Written on the paper menu of Southern Pancake House from Williamsburg, Virginia. At the time, I was wrapped up in full time ministry. Dreams were coming true. Then, abruptly, it ended. But I can see threads of this calling throughout my journey. From assistant teaching at the University, to Sunday School, to fine art school, journaling excessively and blogging during seasons of my life, this creative writing life has been woven into this person God made.
Public Speaking Class? A+. Writing APA format? No problem. Presentation for a final? Piece of cake. These areas of life required work, but it was evident that the work, infused with faith, brought me to life.
Then, something happened. I lost confidence. From the time I was a teen, I felt God speaking to me and through me to others. At the age of 26, I was speaking words of encouragement to my church family publicly on a frequent basis and leading in small groups. I was asked to be a part of the “prophesy” team at a large conference that included many affiliate churches. It was here that I spent additional time in God’s presence, pouring over his word, and was given a word that I felt was for everyone. I went to the Pastor in charge of my team, and he told me that my words were NOT for the people there, they were just for me. That shook my world at the time. I had trusted God, so I thought, put a great deal of heart work into the process, and took a risk. I disagreed in my heart with this godly person’s supposition, but I knew how to submit to authority with grace. So I pondered my words privately and closed the book on that page.
Since then I questioned everything I wrote. I stopped speaking out loud. My voice faltered.
“Is this thought just for me?” Maybe I need to keep it to myself. This is too risky to share. I might be shut down again. I have doubted myself so much since then.
The scripture says that “Not many of you should become teachers for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” And, “if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” (James 3)
But also, Romans 12:6-8 states, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
God does have a story over our lives to share. He’s given us a voice. Each one of us has a unique experience with Him that we have to offer. And if we allow fear or doubt to be the theme of our life, we miss out on the fulfillment that comes with taking the risk of loving others through our gifts. And moreso, we limit God. He has a plan to use you and I as an expression of His glory. He will take our small faith and weave it into something unimaginable.
And when our words don’t seem to have purpose. Trust God. There is a purpose.
“…the thrush that awakes at day-break with its song, does not sing because it is paid to sing, or to please others, or to be admired or criticized. It sings because it is happy; it pours the thrilling sounds from its throat, to relieve the overflowings of its own heart—the liquid notes come from, and go to the heart, dropping balm into it, as the gushing spring revives the traveller’s parched and fainting lips.”
William Hazlitt (1818)
Can we take a lesson from creation?
“If the song brings refreshing to others, then it serves.” -Joan Walsh Anglund
As we trust the Lord for our own voice, here are some simple principles to apply.
Seek His word.
Allow it to inform your story.
Speak, even when your voice trembles.
Trust God for the outcome.
Allow God to refine you.
Trusting God with the process is the beginning of finding your niche. Your poetry. Your story. We’ll spend some time reviewing how to trust God with your voice in the coming weeks. Let’s lean in and be brave!