Public Speaking

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New responsibilities have me learning all kinds of new skills, and I hate to admit that I love this new challenge added to my plate.

I know, I know. I should detest all of this, new and different changes, all these unexpected phone calls and issues to resolve peacefully. And in many ways, I do detest it. But, with a little wisdom, I look beyond the practicals to a bigger picture: It makes me a better person.

I knew this would come. I knew changes and advancement of skills were a necessary part of these new duties I have committed to. It’s just not easy.

Public speaking is one of those things I did better back in High School. I took a public speaking class, or a debate class, and really had to sharpen these public speaking skills. Now, I think to how many years have passed….and it was 20 years ago. It’s ridiculous to have actually typed the number 20 there…but alas, it has been that long.

Now over the years, I did have to dabble in public speaking roles, but only for a brief second, nothing too substantial and in front of only a small number. The other night, I mustered strength to speak before a larger crowd, one that was tired, clearly bored by the monotony that was Parent Orientation.

There are ways to win over a tired and bored crowd. I quickly gauged my audience. They weren’t interested in facts and figures. They had heard enough data and research to last quite a while. What they hadn’t heard was an emotional pull to strengthen their ties to the school. We all make sacrifices to send our children to Catholic schooling especially when tuition is a strain on family finances.

We can look all day long online to research for ourselves, if we are interested. But sometimes what we can’t do for ourselves, is create a reason to believe, or to hope or to trust, or to commit a little more concretely to the school that cares for and educates our babes.

On my way to deliver my talk, I said a quick prayer. “Lord, let me reach these parents in a special way, the way, that you would have it. If necessary, send the Holy Spirit to give me the words that will empower them, encourage them, and pull at their heart.”

I found myself telling a story from years ago, and working to engage this crowd, in the only way I know. It’s a story putting all us mothers on the same page, with the same frustrations, the same doubts and concerns and fears. I was once there. And to see myself as one of the older crowd giving a bit of wisdom after identifying those fears and worries, was, well, humbling.

I know I don’t have it all figured out. I still ask my questions, do my Google search, or consult older Moms that have been through the battle, and come out victorious. But I know I have one thing figured out, I have a conviction and dedication to the school that educates my (so far) four precious treasures, my children. In my personal story that I shared that night, I simply told how I gained that confidence in my school of choice and how I gained a commitment to service.

And it’s an emotional ride. Anything worth investing time, money, and talent is going start with something major, something surreal, something spiritual perhaps, something emotional, something relatable. By the end, I was shocked to see a few tears surface on these Mom’s faces, a few chuckles, nods of agreement and over all, smiles at the truth of how conviction begins. And for most of us, it’s a pull on our heart, not our minds.

There are a select few who will commit completely because the facts are just so. There are Moms who are very discerning as to which school will get their child, and they have done their research. Now, I am a research gal too, however, once you’ve enrolled, what is going to commit you deeper, especially when the school truly needs deeply committed individuals to keep thriving? Last night, I witnessed something special.

I saw how an ordinary occurrence seven years ago, made a difference in one night. I saw one small detail, one person’s generous act still be effective this many years later. It was emotional, yes, for the crowd, but for me too. I saw time stand still, how some elements of community life are timeless, and still applicable today.

People are thirsting to be heard and understood. People are hungry for those who can relate to their own personal journey. Several Moms came to me afterwards, and remarked how somehow I seemed to capture a moment in time, and for them, a current moment that they are struggling with. And the fact that I could tell the story, smile, laugh about it now, seven years later, gives them hope….that they too will persevere, pull through and find success.

Late that same night, as I quietly meandered to bed, reviewing the day, something struck me. Silly woman, you prayed for lights and when they were delivered, you took the praise, without giving the glory to God. You are only an instrument. God will use you when and where He chooses. The only thing to take credit for, is that first prayer of begging for His Spirit, because all that happened after that, was all His doing.

Copyright 2011 Sahmatwork

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