I will be answering your questions dealing with Fear, Transparency, and Balance. I'll also tell you about my 1st She Speaks Conference and how attending this conference changed my life.
Questions are in black, answers are in red.
I have just begun teaching and speaking to women(something I never would have imagined I would do) and I really feel a passion for it. However, I am soooo lacking in confidence and skills. Am I ready for this type of conference, should I get more (local) training first? How do you get over the thought "no one really cares what I have to say"? How do you deal with rejection?
Great questions! I can relate to every fear you listed. I think most speakers and writers can. I am going to break your questions up so I can answer them all:
1. Lacking in Confidence and Skills....That's okay:) If you were super confident and highly skilled then you may not realize how much you need the Lord. Based on your confidence and skills you may not be ready, but God will equip those He calls. Have no doubt about it, if God has called you into speaking, He will equip and qualify you for each and every step. If this is your passion, do not let fear be what stops you. The enemy will use those fears to try and convince you that you are not good enough. That's not true. Pray daily and arm yourself for protection. Once you get started, your confidence will build and you will learn as you go along changes and improvements you may need to make. Just don't compare yourself to ANYONE else. Be yourself, don't try to be someone you are not. God made you. He called you. Allow Him to use you and trust Him. You probably are not as "lacking" as you think anyway. I still get nervous. I still question if I'm good enough. That's when I need to seek God the most and tune out everything else. As long as I keep it about Him and not me, then there is no way that I can fail.
2. How do you get over the thought "no one really cares what I have to say"?
When you figure this one out, would you let me know! Seriously, I still ask myself this because I just can't believe that something that I could say could be so interesting or important. But wait...it is. It is because I'm not just up there talking. I'm sharing life. I'm sharing the Lord. He has given me my message and He has been with me on my journey of life. It is His Word that I want my audiences to believe. I always tell them, "Don't take my word for it. Find out for yourself." If your passion and reason for speaking is because of what God has placed on your heart, then don't you worry one bit if anyone cares what you have to say. He cares. And almost always when I speak there is at least one woman who comes up to me and says, "this message was for me". I praise God right then and there. Even if everyone else was falling asleep, that's okay. God used it for His purpose for that person. Everytime before I speak I pray and ask God to determine every word that comes out of mouth. I pray that my audience would see and hear Him, not me.
3. How do you deal with rejection?
I pray and ask God what He thinks of me. Then I call my best girlfriend and cry and she sets me straight! Rejection and criticsm unfortunately come with the territory. It's just the way it is. Honestly some rejection and criticsm hurts more than others. It never feels good, but I've learned to keep it in perspective and try to learn from it. I keep reminding myself that my identity is in Christ. Most of the time when a church is considering me for an event, they are also considering others. From the moment I find out that I am being considered, I give it to God. I trust if He wants me there and if it is in His plan then He will work it out. I would never want to mess up God's plan, so if I'm not selected, then that's a good thing. On the other hand, if it's been months and months that I have not been invited to speak even though I've been sending out my bio and CD, then I have to ask myself some questions to determine if there are some changes I could make to be a more effective speaker and communicator. She Speaks addresses a lot of this.
4. Am I ready for this type of conference, should I get more (local) training first?
Yes, you are ready for this type of conference. You do not need any skills or "local training" to come to She Speaks. You need the desire to please God with your life. That's it. She Speaks is educational, professional, fun, encouraging, and God's Hand is all over it. Some have even said it was like a revival, a renewal of the heart. You are equipped with the tools needed to get started, but you are also given encouragement and feedback. We've all been there and so we have a heart for our attendees. Whether you want to be a better leader, teacher, speaker, writer, or just build your confidence to share your story, She Speaks is for you, no matter how much experience or training you've had.
1. How do you open your heart? I have so much baggage do people really want to hear my story? Can they really learn from it? If I thought one person could I would shout it from the roof top!!! or would I? I think my past could help alot of young people! No! I know my past could help alot of young people but where do I get started!
You better climb on that roof top and start shouting! Many people can learn from your story! If God took you through it then He can use it. How much you share is really up to you. I have found that for me, sharing my baggage has been a blessing to me and to others. I just make sure that my story is not about all the baggage, but what God did with and through the baggage, how I was transformed by Him. I share those parts of my life because I have hopes of showing that if God could use me, He could use anyone. I want them to find the freedom in their lives that I have found. People don't need all of the details to get the impact of the story and I don't share every detail. I try to use discretion in how much I share depending on the audience and the purpose of the event. I devote a lot of prayer in determining what I share and when.
I have found that my transparency is one thing my audiences really like about me. They are glad that the speaker isn't perfect. They don't want to hear from someone who appears perfect and has it all together. I not only share my baggage from the past, but I share the tough stuff in life right now if it is appropriate and could help someone. The most important gift you can give your audience is to be yourself. That's who God made you. Allow Him to shine through you...not you trying to be all put together. Open up your heart. Something I found helpful was to write out my entire testimony. It helped to see it in writing. As I experience more and add to it, I write some more. When I read over it I can easily decide what I want to leave out, if I've shared too many details, and how long it's going to take me. I hope this helps you a little bit.
I'm just going to jump right in on this topic. Isn't it every woman's stuggle? I am married and have 4 children ages 6-14. Our household is very busy. We have many appointments and after school activities weekly. I do not have a housekeeper, but if I could afford one, I would! Last October I went to work in the Proverbs 31 office as an Administrative Assistant. I work 5 days a week. Up until then I basically had been a stay at home mom for 12 years. It was hard to find balance when I was a stay at home mom and it's hard to find balance now that I work. Speaking began slowly for me. I taught classes and led Bible studies at church for years. When God called me to begin speaking, the first thing I did was talk to my husband about it. He was very supportive. I don't know how I'd do it if my family wasn't a part of it. It's not "my" ministry, it's "our" ministry. I couldn't do what I do without them. We have to work together so I can have time to plan and prepare for a message or an event. We have to work together so I can travel and be away without the family falling apart. Their support is key to keep a balance.
I also had to let a lot of other things go. I used to feel guilty for this, but I'm over it now. This is just me. I'm not saying everyone has to quit what I quit, but in order for me to keep my priorities straight and for balance to occur I had to make some changes. Some of them were very hard for me to make. I do not volunteer for PTA or committies at my kid's schools. I attend school functions, go to their parties, eat lunch with them occasionally, and attend all of their activities and events, but I don't volunteer anymore. I do not volunteer at the same level I used to at church anymore. It no longer works for me to lead Bible studies and teach classes. I'm very selective about the activities I choose to do. I don't volunteer to be Team Mom, Classroom Mom, or anything else that I would have to be in charge of. I don't volunteer to do class projects or help the teacher. I'll meet the teacher for coffee or visit her at school, but I just can't do all those other things. Oh, I felt so guilty about that. The PTA President has been asking me for years why I don't serve on a committee. I try to answer honestly. Some people just don't get it. They may think I'm not doing my part, but I know I am. God knows I am. My family knows I am. For me speaking and writing is my thing now. It is my way of serving God using His purpose for my life. If I thought for one second that my not doing any of things was hurtful in any way to my relationship with the Lord or hurt my family, I would do different, but I had to let these things go. Hear this: I'm not saying that you have to quit it all to be a speaker/writer. I can't handle a lot going on at one time. I get anxious. Chaos sends me over the edge when it is occurring daily. This is what has worked for me. You have the find the balance that works for you and your family:)
I cannot say enough good things about this conference. The women's ministry director at my church sent me to my first She Speaks Conference six years ago. I was blown away by the friendliness of the speakers and staff. I expected to gain insight and tools needed to improve as a leader, but what I didn't expect was all that God gave me that weekend. I thought I wanted to be a speaker, but I wasn't really sure. I was very insecure and like many of you thought, "why would anyone want to come and hear me speak?" I compared myself to Beth Moore and Lysa TerKeurst and that scared me because I knew I'd NEVER be that good. And I probably never will, but who cares? God didn't need another Beth or Lysa. He needed me. And He confirmed my calling to speak at the conference. She Speaks helped me to gain the confidence I needed not to believe in myself but to rely on God.
A year later I joined the Speaker Team at Proverbs. A short time after that, I began writing devotions. The Lord has used me and taken me places I never would have dreamed of. The one event I look forward to more than any other every year is She Speaks. When I see someone on the fence about going, I just want to say, "You have to go! It's awesome! It's amazing!" But really nothing I say can express how great it really is. You just have to experience for yourself. The conference is 100% about God and what He can do through you. It's just icing on the cake that you happen to walk away with some valuable information.
As if this is not enough, you also make many good new friends.
So, if you are one who is on the fence...pray about it first of course and if God gives you the go ahead...JUST DO IT! GO TO SHE SPEAKS!
I really hope that this information has been helpful to you. If you have any more questions about what I've written, let me know. Thank you for visiting my blog and please come back again soon!
Blessings to you as you seek God's will in ministry. I look forward to meeting many of you face to face at She Speaks!