When you first started preaching you were an amateur. Sure someone might have been paying you to preach, but that was about the only thing separating you from the guy being asked to do it for free. You took it seriously and you did your best, and I'm sure you did a great job. The problem for many of us, is that not much has changed since then. Sure we've matured. We've had more life experiences and we likely speak with more substance and less filler, but the tools we had then are still the tools many of you are using today.
Think about some of the speakers you respect. Do you think they have the same skills and are using the same tools you used when you started out? Of course not. That would be disappointing. So why are you using them?
For many of us there a moment that changed how we preached. Maybe you heard someone for the first time and the way they spoke marked a before and after for you. Maybe you read a book that challenged you to change your approach. Maybe…
So perhaps you are better than you where when you started out, maybe your better than you were 5 years ago. But are you a better communicator than you were 12 months ago? How do you know?
Not For Everyone
Speaking, preaching and communicating professionally is not for everyone. Don’t get me wrong. If you choose not to be a professional communicator, you’re not a lesser person. Honestly, you are a decisive person and I respect that. Just promise me you will put your energy into what ever you chose and do it well.
If you do decide you want to pursue becoming a professional communicator know that it will be hard. There are many great preachers and teachers out there…and most, if not all, are available online. Becoming great will feel discouraging sometimes. It will feel slow. You may even have seasons where your efforts don’t feel appreciated. This is going to take a lot of hard work to get to the next level but if you believe what you have to say is important, then it’s worth every second.
It seems that anything worth doing has an excellence curve. Initially improvement is easy. Going from 0 to 50 takes some practice but the results feel good. Even as an amateur, you feel like you are improving every time you get up to speak. The problems is that every next 10 percent get’s harder and harder to reach. That’s where the difference lies. As an amateur you are satisfied with the “0 to 50” improvement and you stall out there. As a Pro you are constantly pushing to be better than you were a month ago. As a Pro, your biggest fear is that you fall into a rut developmentally.
In his book “Turning Pro”, Steven Pressfield states:
“Sometimes, when we’re terrified of embracing our true calling, we’ll pursue a shadow calling instead. That shadow career is a metaphor for our real career. Its shape is similar, it’s contours feel tantalizingly the same. But a shadow career entails no real risk. If we fail at a shadow career, the consequences are meaningless to us.“
I think that this is true for many of us. While we might not be in a “shadow career” we have allowed our job description to morph into something that distracts us from our primary purpose. We allow our schedules to fill up enough that “busyness” can be the one to blame when this week’s talk falls flat. Or maybe we’ve taken another position in the church so that we can avoid the pressure of being the one to teach. We have put ourselves in a “shadow” position because it reduces the risk for us.
The point is that you have to choose to be a Pro. It doesn’t happen by accident. You have to decide that you are going to be a better communicator than you were 12 months ago. You must decide there is no place for “shadow careers” and no place for complacency.
Question of the day: Does thinking of yourself as a Pro make you feel confident or uncomfortable?