What Are You Lacking?

I used to have a word for everyone. I had the “perfect” story or illustration that would drive home any point I felt was important to be heard. It didn’t matter that the person speaking to me had not finished what they wanted to say or that I was not fully listening.  I knew just what to tell them to solve any problem I thought they may be facing.

This carried over into my career as well, as I would often lead calls, host information sessions, conduct training classes, write and post articles and work blogs. You may say I felt “rich” in diplomacy and communication, and prided myself in my natural ability to have the right word at any given moment, no matter who the audience.

Then one day at work about five years ago, I made a huge mistake; a big, fat, embarrassing blunder! The company I worked for at the time had a brand new Vice President of Sales, and he was the one who had been hired to bring us out of the hole we as a company had been falling into.  During his very first official combined sales & services meeting, he proudly announced a new strategy we would now be expected to follow.  It just so happened that I did not agree with it!  I thought it was ludicrous and was sure our company would not take any turns for the better if we followed it.

Oh yes, you guessed it, Ms. Diplomatic had to open her mouth – right then and there in front of everyone! Except the words did not flow off my tongue like honey, and my message became all scrambled.  It did not come out of my mouth the way I had heard it in my head, probably because I instinctively knew I should not be saying anything at all.  In the process, I publically embarrassed both of us, and was nearly fired on the spot!

For an entire six months afterwards I was put on probation in lieu of losing my job, and had to take a series of online communication courses designed to help me better know when and how to not only speak in a corporate environment, but to write in one. My direct manager scheduled one-on-one sessions with me to discuss each completed course, and gave me exercises to go along with them.  At the end of the six months he passed on his evaluation to the new VP, to determine if I got to keep my job or not.  I did.  Ironically the company was acquired before the end of that year, so I wound up losing my job anyway.  That could have made the whole thing seem pointless if I had chosen to see it that way, but I didn’t.

I was devastated by that moment and all that happened afterwards. I was completely crushed in spirit!  The very thing I had felt “rich” in was now bankrupt.  I was really heartbroken over it, and cried myself to sleep several times thinking about what had happened and how it had happened, and the very humbling process I was being asked to go through.  It took me months to regain any kind of confidence in public speaking, and probably over a year before I spoke up again during any kind of large work related meeting like that.  Still to this day in my work environment I rarely speak out unless it is a more intimate setting.  In most cases I actually take the time to write out what I intend to say first, and re-read it prior just to be on the safe side!

Personal conversations were sometimes worse. Once in a while I would stop mid-speech, as if someone had a hold on my tongue and I was suddenly seized with fear. Nothing would come out!  I tried pushing through again within my own natural abilities.  Most people probably did not realize the extent of what was going on inside of me, but I knew.  All I could do was ask Jesus to somehow take it and make it into something that would bring honor to Him, because I felt I had failed so miserably.

So recently I was reading the story of the Rich Young Ruler in Luke chapter 18. He prided himself in his riches.  When he asked Jesus what he should do, Jesus told him he lacked one thing.  That was to sell all that he had, and to come and follow Him.  When he heard this, he was sorrowful, for he was very rich.

It struck me in that moment that “riches” does not always have to be a monetary reference. You can be “rich” in just about anything you feel your own natural abilities are strong or capable.  What are you holding on to?  Are you willing to “sell all” and follow Jesus?  To bankrupt yourself, give up that very thing you hold dear?  You know, the one thing you think defines who you are as a person?  Are you willing to give that up and empty yourself so that He can then fill you with Himself instead?  Just know as a child of God, it may happen even if you aren’t yet ready for it!  Our God is a jealous God, and He doesn’t want anything to stand in the way between us and Him!

Yes, Lord, I am willing! Shut my mouth that it may be You who speaks, and not me that is heard!

All in all during this time, I was learning to listen, learning to yield. Not only was I learning to listen to the person speaking, I was and still am learning to listen to the Holy Spirit, and am slowly learning now when to speak, what to speak, and when to hold my tongue.  I am amazed at what I pick up on when I am silent!

Not too long ago, a colleague at work made a reference to me in an email as “someone to turn to for advice and counsel as the leading Subject Matter Expert in the business on Customer Support”. I literally laughed out loud when I read those words, but a moment later, I also cried.  Only I knew how far God had brought me, how far I still have yet to go.  I also know that no one would have thought quite so lofty about me five years ago.  I am humbled, I am amazed.  I want it to be Him they see, not me!

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:3

 

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