I love to present. And I used to do it a lot. On a personal level I presented to college students and fellow alumni. At my job I traveled around to small groups and big groups to lead discussions, introduce concepts and help with technology. My favorite was presenting from a stage to a roomful of amazing local business owners, who were looking for ways to tell their story. They were looking for ways that didn’t break the rules of our highly regulated industry, that allowed their personalities to shine, and didn’t kill their time management (or their team). This was one of my favorite parts of my job… seeing an audience get energized and understand something for the first time, even if they’d heard it times before. Then coming up to chat afterward to share their ideas and thoughts with me, and occasionally a cup of coffee.
In the midst of all that travel and presenting over the years, I was sharing other thoughts in other ways. Namely online through daily social media posts, where I reflected on a bible verse for the day and pulled in my observations about the world and the culture around me. I called them #meetingnotes. They were from my first meeting of the day, with God. And as it turned out there were people reading my meeting notes (no one ever reads meeting notes!) Some people were listening, and I didn’t learn until years later, a few were REALLY listening.
One person who was listening, eventually moved to my town. Eventually joined my same church. Eventually told me the impact a series of meeting notes had on her life. And most recently she has become my mentor.
How funny of God to use me in her life when she needed it… and now to use her in my life when I need it. He’s so full-circle, like that.
Our careers crossed paths at various moments both before and after the move. We joined a leadership group together at work and at church. She’s seen me present to a big crowd. She watched me lead a meeting and command a room. Recently she reminded me of that.
She reminded me, about me.
I’ve been avoiding “me” for a few reasons.
1: It felt like it would mean I was listening to the world, and not God.
I’m frustrated by the over-emphasis these days on activities that reward and praise selfishness, that hyper-focus on self to the disregard of others, that user peer pressure and passive aggressive guilt trips to drive you toward side hustles just so you can get your slice of “what’s yours”.
Ugh. Stop. No. I didn’t leave my job to become a part of that. I wanted a higher calling, not a cheap imitation of… I don’t even know what that is or what to call it.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.Paul encouraging Christians in Romans 12:2 (NIV translation)
I didn’t want to fall into that trap of side hustle hype, tracking follower count and pseudo-influencer “success”. It felt false. Not everyone speaking, speaks the truth. We have to learn to tell the difference, and focusing on me is not the way to the truth.
2: This life is not about me.
I believe that focusing on God and others is more important. Not to the detriment of myself, but as the best way to take care of myself: prioritize God, prioritize His Word and prioritize time with Him. Then from a position of gratitude, focus on others: develop empathy, understanding, and improve my listening skills. (Which are often a struggle often for the loudest person in the room.) If I spent too much time thinking about me, I was worried I’d get the priorities wrong, and be susceptible to what I was avoiding in point #1.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.Jesus
Side note: I love that I am supposed to love God with all my MIND. To study, be thoughtful, be analytical, be inquisitive.
Focusing on what God says, not what the world says, allows me to see myself as He sees me and created me. Not what a personality test spits out as the result. I am not a color on a paint palette, a shape on a grid, a number, or a list of adjectives attached to case studies. And neither are you. Focusing on God also allows me to see you as he sees you and created you. Not with labels. Not limiting your character to a tweet, or a meme, or how you feel about <insert topic of the day>.
3: Not all experiences translate easily. And other things are more urgent.
I’ve avoided thinking about me because it’s hard.
I worked in insurance. Of everyone I learned from, every team I was blessed to lead, and every area I was trusted to grow in… what I did more than anything and loved more than anything was working with insurance agents. Amazing insurance agents. Our work together was about digital marketing and personal branding and local marketing. And all of that wrapped up in a regulated package with limitations and guidelines to stay within.
It can be hard to figure out how to take what you used to do, and transform it into something of value in a new environment, with new people… and non-insurance topics. Oh yeah, it also needs to be valuable enough other people will pay for it. It’s hard to make the time, prioritize the time, to sit down and think about your best new value proposition (that only applies to you), when there are plenty of good valuable urgent things you can do to help (that apply to the whole team).
In my effort to focus less on myself and more on how to be immediately useful to my new team and clients… I had forgotten that I am God’s workmanship, and he gave me work to do. Not someone else’s work. He created work in advance for me to do.
My mentor reminded me:
Across the table, she listened and encouraged me and gave me critical feedback I needed to hear. Not American culture criticisms masquerading as “thought leadership”. But the kind of feedback someone who knows you can say without offending because you know it comes from a place of love and care and value. The kind of feedback that comes from experience, wisdom and time with God (you might hear Christians use the word discernment to refer to this).
She gave me an assignment. I am terrified and energized by it. It is not fluffy. It’s about business and sales. It’s about story telling. It’s about getting comfortable being told no.
She’s doing more than she knows. She’s mentoring me professionally. She’s sending me TikTok videos. She’s encouraging my gifts and passions. She’s encouraging my walk with the Lord.
She’s being my friend.
I look forward to working with her to get loud again. It will be work. She’ll probably make me role-play situations (which I hate) but are so important to getting your story right. But she won’t leave me alone. And I don’t want her to. She has gifts to use too, and not to bury. And mentoring is one of her many gifts.
I’ve been praying for wisdom.
God sent me wisdom in the wonderful package of a friend.