I just got back from the most incredible week I’ve had in a long time. For those who don’t know, I took a huge personal risk and went to Grand Rapids Michigan for a speaker’s workshop called Speak Up With Confidence. This class was led in large part by Carol Kent – with a lot of help from her friends let me tell you.
Carol has been teaching this class for about 25 years now. SpeakUP is geared towards enabling and equipping ministry leaders with the skills needed for teaching, speaking, and witnessing Christ with confidence and clarity.
With the loss of my mentors several years back (through geographical moves or death) I have felt lost and a bit alone. I’ve been praying for a learning opportunity like this for the past five years. Once there, I caught myself wondering why God waited until this year to let me know about it. And then it hit me, God waited because this was the first year I was ready for it. I was scared as it was and it took constant prayer just to get me on the plane. Once there I still battled with my own insecurities and fears.
I learned far more than I can blog about today, but I did learn one thing that I do want to write about. Hopelifting. I want to know, am I a HopeLifter or a Hope Crusher? Not only for others, but for myself as well.
The team at SpeakUP is very affirming and gives constructive guidance and feedback. I struggled at times with my own myopic mirror of self doubt and the ability to look around me and encourage others. I love giving encouragment – and I learned that I don’t always know how to receive it.
Throughout the week, I was given affirmations by the leaders at just the right times. One leader called me “beautiful” not once, but twice. Someone else told me she thought I had the friendliest face. Carol wrote after my five minute evaluation “Excellent Communication Skills, very warm and connects with the audience.” and then went on to ask me if I was a teacher. I did internal backflips over that one, let me tell you. To be affirmed by a woman I admire (even if we don’t really know eachother) meant the world.
I’m keeping those evaluation forms in my smile box – I know there will come a day when I’ll need that emotional boost and I can pull them out and read them for a pick me up.
I have a question here – if you do not have someone in your life who is affirming you in healthy and positive ways, can you commit to being that for yourself? I can be my own worst enemy to be honest – I’m known for being verbally and spiritually abusive to myself – “Well that was stupid.” and “I’m such a dork” yes I say those things pretty regularly – I’ve committed to learning how to be that affirming voice for myself – will you join me in that?
I returned on Sunday just in time for a voters meeting at church – still on cloud 9 from this workshop I invited the ENTIRE congregation to SpeakUP. My aim is to bring at least five people back with me next year. People who are ready to take that next step in ministry and step out in faith for Christ.
Voter’s meetings are well, voters meetings what can I say. Being part of a church plant that isn’t always enthusiastically embraced by our congregation is a challenge. We have a couple who openly oppose what we are trying to do and find ways to speak out against it when ever they can.
After the meeting this gal and her husband sought out part of our team to pray with us, and told us all about the two mission churches they tried to start and how they failed. They were trying to be encouraging.. but the message they gave us was “well, we failed so we know that you will too.”
Fortunatley for us, we chose not to receive their words (and it is a choice), and simply thanked them for their time and concern and let them leave.
They are what I call hope crushers… people who are double minded in their caring and who focus their time on telling people why their ideas and dreams won’t work.
I try to avoid people like that.
What I want to do this week is look for opportunities to be a hopelifter in someones life – and watch my words with my own family. Am I being affirming in positive ways? Or am I transferring my past and fears onto someone else?
Do you want to join me? Listen to your words this week – are you lifting up others or smashing them down? Keep a journal and see. When you do see yourself smashing hope – call on Christ – confess it as sin (because that’s what it is) then repent – (turn around in your actions) make a plan to be more affirming – for yourself and for others, and ask for God’s help – he will help you.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.