Humble Yourself, Great Speaker

September 11, 2007


I’m not a natural public speaker. Anyone who’s encountered an event where I’ve spoken knows this. Over the years since I’ve been a Christian and interested in and involved in ministry, and also as a web professional, I’ve been able to speak to a variety of different groups in different situations about different topics. These include a couple of churches, several youth ministries, many college classes, business meetings, and Sunday, my friends at Revolution Atlanta.

In speaking to Revolution, a place where I feel completely accepted and comfortable, I made an important observation about myself: my lack of natural ability as a public speaker regularly shows itself the first time I speak to a group.

Interestingly, as I get used to speaking to whatever group it is, and the group gets used to hearing from me and interacting with me, I become at least something of a decent speaker. I believe this is, at least to a large extent, a thing that God has done for me. Prior to a relationship with him, this didn’t occur. Ever. I couldn’t have taught a group how to get their faces out of paper bags. I shook, stuttered, and did all kinds of stupid things on every occasion. Now, I notice myself doing many of these things the first time, or the first couple of times, that I speak to a group. After that, it goes away.

Sunday, I asked myself why it is that I can’t seem to be a decent speaker the first time. I’ve talked in front of a variety of groups, and have had lots of practice, and some formal training in public speaking. I believe that this is possibly designed to maintain humility. There are things in which I’m naturally gifted. Things that I could do without any relationship to God at all, and in fact that I did do without any relationship to God. Many of these things, though, require teaching, or some other kind of public speaking, to be done effectively. Enter some humility, proud fool.

God delights in using the weaknesses of humanity to show his strength. He delights in helping the humble. It’s really frustrating to speak in front of a group and blow it. To forget what I wanted to say, to shake and stutter, sweat and swallow, and whatever else I may do. But when I look at it in light of the fact that when I speak to that group, maybe the first time or maybe the times after that, I may very well be able to speak God thoughts into their lives, or whatever it is that I’m speaking into their lives, it becomes a beautiful thing. Still frustrating, but beautiful.