This past weekend, I had the honor of being a guest speaker at SpringHill Camp.
Honestly, I know this is a GIANT privilege that I do not deserve! I know there are so many more qualified men and women, but for some reason God keeps tapping me on the shoulder and has been giving me these opportunities for the past 15 years.
Yeah, 15 years. Crazy!
I can’t even express how heavy the responsibility is to be a guest speaker. For years, I wanted that responsibility and I DREAMED of having opportunities to go and be the speaker. Then, after about 5 years of having more and more of them, the reality of the weight and privilege began to sink in.
I mean, holy cow! I get to stand in front of a lot of students and present Jesus. That’s something that I do not take lightly.
It’s something that I cherish and I love, but it is also something that I take very seriously.
I know it’s amazing privilege and I hope that I’m stewarding it the best that I can.
Now that I’m Thrive Church’s full time pastor, I am definitely speaking less and less away from home. Actually, I hate to miss Thrive on Sunday’s. Why? Because I just love my Church. I just being with the Thrive Community. And, I love the privilege of teaching our community at Thrive.
But, a few times a year, if I’m asked, I will travel and continue to speak. Why? I just love telling people about Jesus. And, right now, I’m blessed to be in a place where I have more opportunities to pick from that I can go and do. That could change overnight and I may not ever be asked to speak again somewhere else. And, that’s ok!
So, for now, I will continue speaking 3-5 times a year away from Thrive. Whether it’s a retreat, a camp, a conference or a parent seminar.
I will continue to to respect and thank God daily for giving me these tremendous opportunities to be the guest speaker. I will continue to learn, and to grow and to develop my gift.
Thank you God for blessing me with this tremendous privilege.
The year was 1997.
I had been a youth pastor for about a year and a half.
In that time, a few things started to make sense to me. Like, what I loved about my role as youth pastor.
I loved spending time kids. I loved planning events. And…
I loved Speaking!
My goodness, I came alive. I loved it. I read everything I could. I watched every speaker I could. I listened to every tape I could (yes, tapes).
Then, I heard Ken Davis live for the first time in my life! Holy Cow! Something clicked inside of me and I knew I wanted to devote my life to speaking. I so wanted to use my gifts to communicate.
It was about that time, in a college class, my professor had us read Ken’s amazing book, Secrets of Dynamic Communication.
Again, I came alive.
I remember thinking, I want to be Ken Davis!
Fast forward to 2002. I was at my yearly pilgrimage to my mecca…Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention.
I was doing everything I could at that point to build a speaking ministry. I had left my youth pastor position and I wanted to go for it. I wanted to be a speaker.
Through a series of circumstances I still can’t figure out, I found myself in a room with the late Mike Yaconelli.
Now, he was my idol! I read everything he wrote! Basically, I worshipped him. Right around that time, he had written an article about speaking. Immediately it grabbed my attention. Why? Because I wanted to be a speaker. Well, in this article, and I can’t find it now, he basically said…
“we don’t need any more speakers, we need men and women to devote their lives to kids and to their local church”.
Honestly, I was deflated. I wanted to travel from place to place. Go here, go there.
And then, bam, I’m right in front of Mike. He reaches out his hand and says, “I’m Mike, what’s your name and what do you do?” Honestly, my voice quivered a little bit. I mean, here was a hero of mine! I said, “my name is Jason and I’m trying to be a speaker”.
He looked at me and then gave me a…”ohhhhh, gotcha” face.
We talked for a few minutes and he encouraged me and I’ll never forget what he said to me that night, he said…
“I know you will do great as a speaker and we need people to tell as many kids about Jesus as possible. But, we really need people to pour into kids and love them”.
I’ll never forget that conversation.
At other times during the last 15 years, I have tried to be a speaker. Actually, these past 2 years, I feel like I was on my way to becoming a speaker.
But, something didn’t click. There was something missing and for me, it was being involved deeply in a local church.
For me, I’ve learned that I am at my best and do my best when I’m pouring into a local church and the people in that local church.
So, you want to be a speaker?
Here’s my advice to you. It’s really simple.
Pour into your local church.
Pour into the people in your local church.
Pour into the students and raise up a generation of speakers.
This morning I finish speaking at a great weekend retreat.
Honestly, I have spoke on hundreds of retreats, camps and conferences over the last 17 years and I am so humbled God still gives me these opportunities.
I may have given close to a thousand, if not 1500 messages over the years. That’s just crazy to think about! So often I ask, ‘Why me God?’
I really never thought that I would have all these opportunities, but God had other plans I guess.
My first time every as a retreat speaker was in 1996 and I definitely caught the bug to be a retreat speaker way back then.
Pretty frequently I receive emails and messages from people asking me how I got started and how they can get asked to be a retreat speaker. And, I get quite asking me about communication stuff. Honestly, it’s really fun! I love, LOVE, talking about preaching, speaking and teaching! And, it’s at the point that I’ve thought about starting a coaching group. Well see!
But, if you’ve ever asked God to give you opportunities to speak and teach at retreats and conferences, here is a bit of advice for you.
3 Ways to become a retreat speaker
1. Be faithful where you are. Stop trying to leave your place, wherever that is. If God has given you people to teach every week at your youth ministry or church, teach them. Stop thinking about doing it at a retreat or a conference.
I’ll be crazy honest with you, it is awesome being the ‘speaker’! But, it’s also crazy scary and it’s a HUGE responsibility! The first 5 or 6 years of speaking, I didn’t respect the responsibility like I should have. I really wanted to speak and so I tried way too hard and when I did get asked, I was always thinking of the next place.
That’s just wrong! It wasn’t until I was asked to speak at a very large student ministry conference that the weight of the responsibility hit me. I was back stage, about to go in front of a few thousand students and leaders and it was like God dropped a bucked of bricks on me. The weight and privilege of teaching God’s word hit me and I was just crazy humbled.
I know I tried too hard back then. I just wanted people to like my speaking. Again, just wrong.
Stop dreaming of speaking other places and just be faithful where you are.
2. Stop pimping yourself. I know we live in the world where we’re suppose to build platforms, but I think there is a difference between what kind of platform you build.
So often, we’re trying to build our own kingdom. We try to increase our blog presence, our Facebook friends and Twitter followers. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, we just have to be careful to not let the lore of building our kingdom overcome what we should be playing a part in…building God’s Kingdom.
Again, stop trying so hard.
3. Get around other speakers. This was probably the biggest help for my speaking, outside of actually speaking. I spent a lot of time sitting down with people who were at the place I wanted to be. I brought a legal pad and I just asked questions and took tons of notes.
If you can’t sit face to face, watch them. Take notes. And read everything you can on speaking.
This year I’ll speak less than I have in the last 5 years and I’m great with that! Why? Because I have the AMAZING Privilege of speaking at Thrive Community Church on Sunday’s!
If you ever want to talk speaking, let me know! I would love to help!