Motivating Motivational Speakers

The guy sitting at the table next to me was one of those people who just seem to fill the room–booming voice, dynamic personality and winsome charm. He had on a dark gray suit, complete with vest and bright purple tie–a fitting wardrobe manifestation of the raw charisma bursting from his chest. Everything about the guy exuded competency, confidence and a look-you-in-the-eye sort of kindness.

We got to talking and I found out he is a Christian motivational speaker. He used to play basketball and spent a lot of years speaking in churches and ministering to various celebrities and influential people. He also was just recovering from a two year battle with some life-threatening medical issues. He was so sick that he didn’t leave the house or hospital and was only just now trying to get back into the speaking game. It was heartbreaking to hear about the people who stopped coming by or never called to begin with.

As the conversation wound down, my new friend gave me a knowing look and handed me his business card. “I feel like the Holy Spirit was telling me to talk to you today. I think maybe I should come speak at your church.” I’m never quite sure what to think, when people say the Holy Spirit asked them to _________. I never want to miss a chance to respond to God, but I sometimes wonder why the Spirit didn’t say the same thing to me. I described our church and how our typical speakers are people we are in relationship with to some extent–not a “no” so much as “I’m not sure we’re the inspirational, motivational crowd you’re used to.” 

At that moment, something occurred to me: what if the Holy Spirit really had pushed him to talk to me, but not for the reasons he assumed? My time with Christ the King has given me a certain level of intuition for people who have been wounded in church culture. I’ve said many times that our relational vulnerability and transparency make us a safe space for disillusioned and wounded people. His story of abandonment and loneliness in a time when he thought he might be dying made the pastor hairs on the back of my neck stand up. 

I proposed that maybe the Spirit hadn’t asked him to talk to me so he could minister to our church, but so that our church could minister to him. I suggested it might be worth spending some time on his own spiritual healing before jumping back into inspiring and motivating others. He wasn’t as enthusiastic about the idea as I had hoped, which is fine. For me, though, the conversation has got me thinking more about the amazing kind of church we get to be.

It’s easy to think the best way to make a difference is to get out there and make a difference. It can be tempting to ignore our own spiritual care in our excitement to help others. In fact, I think we sometimes believe (or are even taught) that helping others will somehow take care of our own needs for spiritual healing and restoration. Not true.

I hope my speaker friend is doing well. I pray the right people are speaking hope and healing into his life and I’m glad that God has fostered that kind of culture and mission in CTK. I am also grateful for the redemption and restoration I’ve personally experienced with you all. I think we can look forward to the likelihood of the Spirit sending us people that need our kind of motivation and inspiration.



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