By Elizabeth Musser
How do we, as authors, handle the speaking opportunities given us?
I was recently asked to speak at a women’s luncheon event at a country club. When the gal (I’ll call her Cindy) asked about my availability, I explained very clearly that I would be speaking about my newest novel, told her what my honorarium would be, and how I typically presented my talk.
She was thrilled with my willingness to speak to her group and understood my parameters.
So, I accepted the offer.
Then I heard from Cindy again. Everything was great. Except … the group was diverse so I shouldn’t talk too much about my faith and certainly not about my most recent book which deals with Muslims coming to Christ and could I include photos because photos are super important in presentations and also could I please send her the topic of the new speech I was going to have to write asap and she was sorry but there would be no honorarium because the group was a non-profit but I could of course make my novels available for sale and also I might need to buy an adapter so that the slide presentation I needed to prepare would be able to be viewed on their screen. And then…
You get the picture. No matter how clear I had tried to be about what I had to offer, after I had said yes, she began to tell me (albeit very politely) everything I would need to change in my presentation. Especially stressful was the fact that I shouldn’t talk too much about my faith.
I had barely begun writing that speech when we hit a major crisis in my other job of pastoral care for missionaries. This crisis was requiring my husband and me to be on-call 24/7. I basically had zero time to prepare this speech with the accompanying slideshow.
I spent several late nights finishing the talk in between crisis management and mission conferences. But I was suffering from a huge case of attitude. Several times during that week, I whined to the Lord and my husband, “Please never, ever let me accept another speaking engagement again! I try to be so careful and clear as to what I have to offer, and this is stressing me out completely, and I can’t even share my faith and this is just NOT worth it…”
Fortunately, I had asked a group of prayer warriors to be praying for me (and those poor women who were going to hear yours-truly with an attitude!)
Then Billy Graham died. And the day before my speaking engagement, I heard Kathie Lee Gifford share the Gospel boldly and winsomely on national TV as she related her friendship with Billy Graham. That did it. I was convicted that I would share my faith, as winsomely as possible.
I showed up at the venue, met the lovely and demanding Cindy, and listened as she explained the schedule, adding that a lot of women would probably have to leave early (i.e. before I could be available to sign and sell my novels).
Attitude, stomach ache, exhaustion. Prayers. Breathe. Yes, Lord. Here am I.
And then, much to my surprise, the women began arriving and crowding the book table before the program began. And they bought books. Many, many books. Cindy had to close down the table so that I could speak (promising the gals that I’d have books available after the talk, too.)
The ladies sat down, and it was time for the tables to be served. Then I would begin my speech. Except that the country club had received a surprise visit from the food inspection committee and therefore lunch was going to be late and I needed to start talking first and she was sorry that there was no hands-free mike…
Cindy’s schedule was falling apart, but God’s peace descended on me like a soothing hot shower after a stressful day.
As always, He showed up and allowed me to share my writing journey and my faith. The women laughed and cried and nodded, and the atmosphere in the room was warm and electric. I shook my head in awe, watching God at work in spite of my nerves and bad attitude and dire predictions. The women appreciated what I had to say about life and prejudice and wealth and faith. God was at work, and I was just there to witness it. After my talk, the ladies swarmed the book table again, and we sold out of books, books that speak of ordinary people and an extraordinary God.
Many whispered words of thanks. That room of beautiful, wealthy socialites was also filled with God’s Spirit.
The moral of this story is simply this—when we do our best to be clear about what we have to offer and then that gets overruled, press on and trust that the Lord is going to use us as we humbly, and sometimes with a little attitude, submit to Him.
Elizabeth Musser usually writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions’ work in Europe. To be closer to family, the Mussers have moved back to the Southeast for 2017-2018 school year and are living in the Chattanooga area near their son, daughter-in-law and three grandkids. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog.