Friday, April 11, 2014

It’s About What You Say, Not How Well You Say It

Written as part of the She Reads Truth #SheSharesTruth experiment 

So often, it seems that we get caught up in our own abilities or how we’re going to present something in this amazing way that we forget that the message itself is what is important. But the truth is, unless you’re a motivational speaker, the actual content of your message is what will be focused on for most presentations people attend. 

This is actually a very timely concept for me to grasp. I’m currently preparing to deliver training in D.C.; and the whole purpose of next week’s event is to judge how good I am at training. Gulp. (And I’m not normally a trainer!) The point is not for those in the room to learn the information. They will all be federal employees who already know the content. They just want to know if I know it. And there will be, I’m sure, an element of criticism around my delivery of the message that they want me to share. Ick. Super stressed. I already get nervous before presenting. But to present for the purpose of being judged!?! Not my idea of a good time. 

But I have to remember: It doesn’t have to be about that. If I know the materials (and in this case, that’s also the issue – just started prepping yesterday really), it will speak for itself. In fact, no amount of fancy speech and delivery skills will make up for not knowing my stuff. The content is far more important than how dynamic a speaker I am. 

And how much more so is that true when delivering the message of Christ! So often we are drawn in by powerful speakers. People who make us feel something. People with charisma and charm. But if we’re not careful, we can become less concerned about the actual message being delivered. And we can be duped by the messenger. Plus, dynamic deliveries often bring praise upon the messenger, more so than the message.

But in this passage, Paul makes it clear that he’s not playing the orator. He is just a simple sharer of good news. He has a message, and he’s going to share it. But he’s not going to puff it up. He’s not going to be commended for how well he did in delivering it. He doesn’t want pats on the back for how great a speaker he is. He wants the focus to be on the message itself. On Jesus. For that is what we are called to: “to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (vs 2).

If we know nothing else and share nothing else, and do it in a meek and humble way, we’ve done exactly what we’re called to. We are not called to making ourselves known. We are called to make Jesus famous. In our hearts. In our lives. In our communities. In our world. But we do that, not by being boisterous and bringing attention to ourselves, but by sharing him in all that we do and all that we say each and every day. Because really, our lives are not meant to be about us. They are meant to be about him. And he’s big enough and powerful enough that he doesn’t need our oratory skills to bring his message in such a way that it changes people. He can handle the changing. He just needs us to know him and love him and share him. He’ll take care of the rest.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Rest Will Take Care of Itself

At the beginning of the book of Joshua, he has been commissioned by God to do THE BIGGEST THING he could ever imagine. Moses, the leader, has died. And Joshua, Moses’ assistant, will now put on the leader hat and deliver to these people the one thing they’ve been searching for – for most or ALL of their lifetimes: the homeland that God has promised them. 

But Joshua knows that the final scenes of this very dramatic story have the potential to be the most daunting. It’s not as if it’s just open and unoccupied land. It’s not as if it’s just there for the taking – first come, first serve. They will have to take the place away from those who currently consider it their home. And he’s guessing that these people are not just going to move out without a fight. I mean, it’s not like it’s a saved seat. There will be no: Excuse me. Umm, this land is actually ours. God was saving it for us. So I’m actually going to need you to find another place to live. (In fact, that tactic doesn’t even go over well when it is just a saved seat you’re squabbling over.) And the response will be something stronger than a sassy: Oh. Well. I didn’t see your name on it.   

So, Joshua is probably a little scared. Out of his MIND! So, the Lord tells him to be strong and courageous. He actually says it three times in the first nine verses. 

Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them (Vs 6).

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go (Vs. 7).

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Vs. 9).

God really wants Joshua to be strong and courageous. 

But how can he be? He needs a plan. He needs to know how to attack. He needs to know what type of enemy he is facing. 

No he doesn't. At least not yet. That will come. He really just needs God’s Word. It will provide all the direction he needs. And he needs to trust God on this.  

While the Lord encourages him to be strong and courageous three times in verses 6, 7 and 9, the real practical key to success provided in this passage is in vs. 8: 

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

I’m going to guess that Joshua has read this Book of the Law before and never really saw it as a manual for a hostile takeover or an all-out war. It never really struck him as that kind of book before. But it is. Or it can be. If you meditate on it. God’s Word is meant to strengthen and empower us to face every scary thing we can imagine. He’s given it to us to grow our strength and courage. The rules are there to guide us, to keep us within the lines – on the path to success.

And although, through Christ’s death and resurrection, we aren’t condemned by the law anymore, we are still to be bolstered by God’s Word. If we make it a regular part of our day, of our lives – meditating on it all the time, our lives will be better for it. While he certainly doesn’t promise that we’ll never have tough times, he does guarantee that his ever-present love and his Word will get us through it all. 

So, be strong and be courageous. The manual for getting through the tough and messy – the Bible – is readily available to guide us. If we’ll only meditate on it – allowing it to soak in, the rest will take care of itself.