The first time I was asked to speak, it was with my mom. We were to present to the young moms group at our church on the joys of motherhood.
Mom was a bit uncomfortable with the idea; I was elated.
She decided that for her part, she would interview a bunch of other moms, and read their responses. I, on the other hand, had a bazillion thoughts and ideas! So we decided to alternate between my arm sweeping stories, and her little nuggets of truth, read from folded sheets of paper.
I’m sure we were quite the picture of contrast-she and I. Me, completely exuberant about the chance to stand before them; and Mom…. well, less than exuberant.
When we walked out into the hallway afterward, she whispered to me, “Well, at least they didn’t throw tomatoes.” I just smiled widely. I couldn’t help it. It was just so thrilling to me–something Mom couldn’t relate to.
Years later, I still love speaking just as much as on that first day. I love it when laughter splashes across a room, after I share a funny story from my life. I love the faces of women, drinking in truth, as I paint a picture with my words. I love the emotions that flicker in their eyes as I tell a story that Jesus once told. And most of all, I love the opportunity to toss out seeds of truth and light.
Our world is a dark place, coated with lies. We have an enemy who loves to deceive. And I will take every opportunity I have to fight back the darkness with the sword of God’s Word. Truth. That’s what I’m selling with my stories and pleadings. With every microphone I raise to my lips, I want to spread light!
But here’s what I’ve learned about speaking: My words are the small part. They’re like hard, little seeds. And if they bounce out into a room of cemented over hearts, they will have no effect. They will produce nothing. They will not push back darkness. They will not spread light. Even if I am winsome and compelling and funny and smart. Even if I wear a cute jacket and have a good hair day, and trim every ‘um’ out of my message.
On their own, my words are ineffective. Seeds are only seeds. They can produce nothing on their own. Apart from softening, moistening, warming, nourishing work of God’s Spirit, my words fall short.
Yours do, too.
You might not be someone who uses a microphone, but surely you are someone who uses words. And if you’re a woman, your words are probably the most powerful tool you have–both to help and to harm.
Perhaps, like me, you want to push back the darkness. You want those you love to be rooted in and established in truth. And so you toss truth out like seeds. Especially when you see that your child, your husband, your mom, sister, or friend is growing some sort of tough exterior toward the truth. You notice that their heart has a hard, waxy surface. Then you see cement forming. And you’re tempted to turn up the volume on your sound system.
I know that temptation. No matter the size of the audience, there is always that temptation.
But let me make a small suggestion. Rather than producing a message that gets louder and longer, do this instead: Invite the Spirit of God to do his softening work. And don’t just invite Him to moisten and nourish that other person’s heart; ask that He work in your heart as well.
That’s what I do, before I speak. I line myself up, there at the foot of the cross, beside every person who will join me in the room. I put myself on equal footing, and recognize that I need this message to sink into my own heart, just as much as anybody. I beg God to pour out his softening grace on all of us, that the seeds of truth might settle deep into our hearts and produce crazy amounts of fruit.
Then, when I take up the microphone, I do point out what God says is right and good. But I am ever mindful that if the person hearing my words has not been right, or has failed to do good, only God can show them this. Only God can show me this.
So, the next time you prepare to be a speaker of truth–either to an audience of one or many, join me in this prayer of preparation:
Holy Spirit, won’t you soften our hearts–mine and theirs. Help me to have the most broken, softened, moisturized heart in the room. God, let your light flood in, that we might see ourselves clearly. I know that I can only toss out the seeds. Won’t you cause them to sink into soft, receiving hearts, and be carried out of this place–that these seeds might bear much fruit? I entrust my words to You. Amen.