the motivational speech.

I just started facilitating a small group for a young women’s ministry on Monday nights.   Now I’m used to being with my Middle and High School students, so leading a group of women is quite a change! {don’t worry…i don’t think this is a permanent change…i still love my teen ladies!!}

Yesterday night was my second time facilitating.  I walked into the room to find a new woman sitting at our table who was a friend of a group member.  I sat down and after introducing myself I felt this uneasiness come over me. It hit me that not only was every single lady in my group at least 6 years older than me, but 4 out of the 5 women had been married for at least 2 years! {I’ve been engaged for almost 2 years…that has to count for something… right?} Nevertheless, I felt so young, so unequipped, so silly.  All I could hear {from Satan obviously…} was this constant whisper, “why would any of these women want to learn from you? They don’t want to be led by someone who is not even married and is 6 years younger than them.  You should just give up this ministry, you won’t make any difference.”

I took a deep breath and headed out to the bathrooms for a little potty break and some prayer {because somehow bathrooms are the best place to pray at church?} As I headed over to the bathrooms I kept repeating the very popular verse that I have clung to for years;

“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” [1 timothy 4:12]

I prayed this verse over and over.  I prayed that God would encourage me, strengthen me and allow me to speak words of wisdom to my ladies. I prayed that God would release any negative thoughts and that I would be the woman of faith and confidence that he has called me to be.

When I think about 1 Timothy 4:12, I think about Paul talking to his “loyal child” Timothy.  I like to visualize this interaction like the motivational locker room speech before a game or the inspirational huddle before a big play.  I can see Paul amping up Timothy. {not sure if it actually happened this way…in fact, i’m sure it didn’t happen this way, but in any case, its nice imagery, so let’s just go with it…}  I can hear Paul repeating over and over, “Don’t let them intimidate you! Don’t let them look down on you!  You’ve got this Timothy, show ’em what you’ve got!” {or something like that…possibly something less cheesy and more impactful, but you get the point…}

Now, when you think about a motivational speech, who is the speaker usually talking to?  They’re not talking to their opponents, that’s for sure! They’re focus is on their players! In this case, Paul isn’t telling the crowds who are going to listen to Timothy not to look down on him because of his age, Paul is talking to Timothy. Paul is pushing Timothy, he is encouraging and inspiring him to walk in confidence and have an attitude of confidence in Christ!  Paul is focusing on inspiring Timothy to have a mindset of boldness, courage and fearlessness.

Every person has distinct experiences, knowledge, wisdom and faith.  We all have these unique stories that God is weaving in between each other, using one another’s experiences and knowledge to better the other.  We must have audacious confidence in the story that God has molded in our life, and be courageous in sharing that story.  We must have a confident, bold mindset in order to share our unique stories. 

Paul continues his pep talk in verse 14, “Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you.”

Paul is reminding Timothy of the spiritual gifts that he was given by Christ.  He is commanding him, “don’t you forget that there is something special in you, you’ve got a gift in you that no one else has, now do not neglect it!” {once again…uber cheesy motivational speech on my part…but the point has been made}

Every single person is given spiritual gifts when they come to Christ, this is a well known fact.  But how many of us neglect those gifts on a daily basis? {I can tell you I am very guilty of this…but then again, who isn’t?}  How many of us hide in fear or uncertainty and never use those abilities? {again, guilty. but hey, we all are at times!}  We each have distinct gifts and talents that God has specifically placed within us to give right back to his kingdom, but they are completely useless if we neglect them!

So back to my small group scenario.  {Ya know what happened?}  I walked back into my group with a confidence, and courage.  {Not in myself by any means!}  My confidence was honestly and completely in my Lord.  I believed that he placed me in that group for a reason for this season of my ladies’ lives and I was sure that he was going to show up and display his own glory.  By the end of the evening my ladies were asking me questions, listening to the wisdom that God has taught me and lessons that he has allowed me to learn and were eager to hear what I had to say! It was a moment of complete humility and awe of how God works.

We are all at some point going to experience an uneasy situation where our first reaction is to draw back and shut our mouths.  At that point we have to put ourselves in Timothy’s place. {…and hey, if you have to take a potty break to pray, just do it. Goodness knows it helped me.}  Each person has specific experiences… faith… knowledge… and wisdom.  Pair that with our unique spiritual gifts and our lives are the most distinct testimony that God wants to use to reach out to this world.

You are in people’s lives for a reason for this season.  Are you opening your mouth to speak to teach what God has taught you, or are you drawing back and shutting your mouth?  Are you going to embrace the confident mindset in Christ that Paul is pushing you to experience?

Just think, if I hadn’t have shaken off my fears, I wouldn’t have been able to encourage my ladies the way I did.  If you don’t shake off your fears, you won’t make a difference either.

People surrounding us need us to walk boldly in our story and our God.  There are people in this world who may be completely inspired and motivated by your life.  And who knows..they may all be older than you. :)

{love you all!! laura}

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