Give your Gifts
I was recently invited to speak at a conference on leadership education. I have never done something like this before, and it sounded a little scary, but I knew I had a message worth sharing and I felt a call to answer this invitation, despite my fears. My experience taught me a few valuable lessons:
1. I, and you, and all of us, have something worth sharing.
2. People want and need what you have to share, even if you aren’t perfect yet!
3. Whatever you share with others is strengthened in you.
Writing and speaking are very different experiences. When I write, I can hide behind my computer and sit in my pajamas and edit my words if they come out wrong. But speaking in public you get but one chance, and you have to worry about body language, and tone of voice, and stuttering, and, oh brother, what am I going to wear?! But my biggest stress was the nagging worry that I was being false by sharing ideas that I have only just begun to understand and that I fail to live perfectly. I wanted more time to master the principles I was sharing, so I could stand up there in confidence. But I don’t know if any amount of time would have been enough. There would still be room for improvement. I had to focus on the conviction I had that what I was sharing was true. And if it is true, it will help someone.
A wonderful friend told me right before I went up to the podium, ‘Just remember, you’re giving them a gift, something they didn’t have before.” People were grateful for what I shared, and took courage from my vulnerability and willingness to share my weakness along with my truths. It was exhilarating to feel that my words might have helped someone.
But it turned out that the someone it probably helped most was me. I have been told that the best way to strengthen a testimony is to share it. I found that as I struggled over my talk, and fine tuned and practiced and stood to deliver it, it seared the message into my mind much more powerfully than it would have if I had kept it to myself. Declaring it that way not only provided a sense of commitment for me to what I was teaching, but it taught me at a new level. Isn’t it interesting that we can learn from our own words and thoughts? Maybe that is because they are not truly, completely our own, if they are inspired. We know that every good gift is from God, after all.
My experience speaking mirrors those I have had in the past, each time I have felt a call to create something new or to venture into territory unknown to me. I take courage now in knowing that my efforts may not be perfect, but the experience of answering the call to speak, serve, share, or create will help refine and perfect me, and whatever gifts I can bring and share will be worth sharing.
I truly believe every person has something worth sharing, and we don’t have to wait until we are perfect to do it. I would never write if I waited until I lived all I share perfectly. I hope that is not a dissappointment to anyone. But it’s true. I write to remind myself what I need to know. And I share it because if it helps me, then maybe it will mean something to someone else too. It strengthens me to share, and I hope it strengthens you.
Empowering Action: Don’t wait to ‘give your gifts’ until you are perfect. Start now.