I had the chance to speak to a group of middle school students on Sunday. It was one of the best learning experiences I have had directly related to speaking in a long time. I was forced to adapt my speaking style, change some of my natural tendencies, and adjust on the fly. It was one of the most rewarding experiences. After sitting back and analyzing the process and talking through some of my thoughts with others, I came up with a list of four things I learned about me and speaking from this opportunity. In no way are these thoughts meant to be derogatory or negative. They are just observations I made about myself and speaking to students. The four lessons will be posted as shorter posts so that they are easier to process. I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me.
- I learn through the process. [Click here to read this post]
- I cannot come home to an empty house. – I always hate using the term “Love Language.” It makes it seem more romantic and sexual than I am really trying to mean. The idea is based off of a book called The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman. It outlines five Love Languages that people have that categorize how people receive affection: physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, and receiving gifts. My Love Language is quality time. Why is this important? Because speaking is hard. There is a lot of time and effort–spiritual, physical, emotional, intellectual–put into crafting a talk and delivering it. When I am done speaking, I am spent on all levels. I am exhausted. The only way for me to feel reenergized or refreshed is by spending time with someone who cares about what I just did or–better yet–cares more about my physical, emotional, and spiritual well being than the content I just delivered on a stage. They do not have to analyze with me. They do not need to flatter me with words of praise or encouragement. They do not need to bring me a thank you card. They do not need do anything extra or on top of what they usually do. They just need to be present. It reminds of the story of Job. While Job’s life was falling to pieces around him and he was completely empty, his friends gathered together just to sit with him. This was actually a Jewish custom when death was present in a family. Friends would come over to the person who was broken, turn over all the pictures of family and friends, and just sit with the person. They would not say a single word unless the broken person said something. It was not a moment of verbal encouragement; it was a moment of respect. The friends did not need to ask questions or give answers; their presence was answer. I am in no way trying to equate death with public speaking. All I am trying to point out is that in times where I am empty across all levels–whether it be from a loss or a pouring out of myself–I need people to just sit with me. I need the presence of people reassuring me that I am loved and cared for. Because, if I do not and come home to an empty house, it just reminds me of the emptiness that I feel inside at that moment. It just echoes the longing that my heart and spirit scream for. Walking into that situation is a depression-filled death trap. One that can spiral an introvert like me out of control. I need someone to be present with me. I know that down the road the person to help fill that emptiness is my wife, but right now God is teaching me to lean on Him for support and refreshment. It is incredibly difficult, and I do not think I would have ever been able to put my finger on this important insight unless I was given this opportunity to speak.