Back when my son was about four, we were driving in the car one day listening to a tape of our friend, Chris Brauns, preaching. (Yes, a tape. This was a while ago…)
From behind me in his car seat, Cade asked, “Is that Pastor Chris?” I said that yes, it was.
Cade said, “Is that the Pastor Chris who lives at the Jamie’s?”
Chris and Jamie (or “Aunt Jamie” to our kids) live in Illinois so we don’t see them very often, but we had just been to their house for a visit.
At that point, Cade would refer to a particular residence according to whomever was most important to him. For instance when he talked about the “Jabin’s”, he was referring to the home where four-year-old Jabin lived. And when he talked about going to the “Ellie’s”, he meant that he was going next door to visit the white greyhound dog named Ellie. So I completely understood what he meant when he talked about the “Jamie’s”. He was talking about the Brauns household, where Aunt Jamie was the ranking household member–probably because she filled him with more snacks, cookies, and candy in one day than he had seen in a month.
So I told Cade that yes, this was the same Pastor Chris who lived at the Jamie’s. Right then, from the tape player, Chris really took off preaching. His voice was loud and emphatic. He talked slowly, accenting each syllable. I could picture him leaning forward earnestly, and using hand gestures.
Cade said, “Pastor Chris is talking weird. He did not talk like that when we were at the Jamie’s.”
I had to laugh. No, in all the time that we had been sitting around in the living room, Chris had not spoken like this. No raised voice, no hand gestures, no slowing his pace or putting emphasis on each syllable. If he had spoken like that, we adults would have thought he was talking weird.
From Behind the Podium
Cade had stumbled on something that I’ve begun to learn over the years. It’s that when you speak from behind a podium–even if you’re only a few feet from your audience, there’s a distance between which doesn’t exist in the living room. And while distance is usually a bad thing when you’re trying to communicate, in this instance distance is good.
From the other side of the podium (or even driving in a car), a person in the audience can listen in without being singled out. She can receive truth without feeling exposed. She can experience conviction without taking offense.
A Time to Keep Silence
Ecclesiastes 3:7 says,
“[There is] a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.”
Oh how true this is! There are times, in conversation with individuals or small groups, when I think of a point of truth that I’d love to share. Perhaps it’s something I’ve said dozens of times from behind a podium. Perhaps it is truth that would be fitting to the conversation and which seems helpful and good.
Yet I don’t say it. I stop short. Why? Because the person I’m talking to isn’t open. I don’t have the invitation to speak into her life. Perhaps I don’t know her well enough or I know her too well. In these moments, like Ecclesiastes says, it’s time to keep silent.
But here’s what I can do instead. I can pray for her. I can pray that someday, somewhere, she will be in an audience where there is a podium, and where the speaker is sharing this truth in a way that she is more able to receive it.
When you’re in an audience, you hear things differently than you do from across a table or living room. You’ve experienced this, right? You hear a pastor or speaker say something, and it stirs your heart. You think, “Yes! That’s so true! I need to hold onto that!” But if your mother or sister or friend said this to you? You might nod your head, but inwardly you’re rolling your eyes, saying, “Why is she preaching at me, again?”
That’s just the way we are. Especially as women.
A Time to Speak
For this reason (and many more), I love being a speaker. I love sharing truth from behind a podium and waiting on God to tuck these seeds of truth into hearts. I marvel at how He sometimes chooses to do big things through little me.
As a speaker, I don’t have a secret formula to unlock hearts. I’m not funny enough or gifted enough to bring down walls. I don’t have any wisdom that originates with me. Only God can do the real work, but I’m just delighted to play a part! I’m delighted with each and every opportunity which allows me “a time to speak”. Especially at Christmas!
Christmas is the time that Jesus entered our world as a tender baby. And sometimes Christmas is the time that Jesus enters hearts tenderly as a Savior. At Christmas time, we’re often surprised by the generosity of people we love. But Christmas is the time to be most surprised by the generosity of our great God! We often open presents at Christmas, but sometimes we also open our hearts a little more than at other times. We have heightened expectations and heightened disappointments at Christmas. We crave greater hope and deeper joy. And in all of this, Jesus is the answer. He’s the reason we celebrate. And He’s the reason I speak.
Will You Pray?
I used to think that it was presumptuous to ask people to pray for me. Doesn’t everyone need prayer? But now I think it’s presumptuous to not ask for prayer. Little prayer equals little power. Much prayer equals much power.
So, would you pray for me? I’ll be speaking to hundreds of women at various Christmas events over the coming weeks. And if you’re attending another Christmas event this season, will you pray for your speaker? We’re just ordinary women behind ordinary podiums, lifting ordinary microphones to our lips. But truth! Truth offers the hope, peace, and joy that we’re all aching to find.
Please pray with me that God would breathe life into the truth that we share from His Word. Pray that the story of Christmas would ring true, and women would open their hearts and say, “Yes! This is true! I need to hold onto this.”