I was recently asked about how someone becomes a speaker. This is a great question and one that almost every youth worker I know wants to know the answer to. Ever since your first youth ministry conference you have probably wanted to know what it is going to take to get from where you are sitting in the back of a huge venue, to being the guy in HD with a little, over the ear, mic.
If you have ever wanted to know how to get your feet on the road to Youth Ministry Speaker fame, I mean service for the Lord, here are a couple of thoughts:
1) IT IS ALL ABOUT SHOTS ON GOAL:
I don't know if you are a soccer guy, but you can't score unless you shoot. And the same is true for speaking. I thought that one day someone would figure out how great I am and then would request me to speak. It turns out, nobody out there cares about me or my speaking ability :) So, if you want to speak, you have to put yourself out there and ask. Get rejected, swing for the fences, get rejected again. Even the worst speakers, soccer players, and dumb boys will score if they put enough attempts together. Imagine Dumb and Dumber, "So you are saying there's a chance." Ask away!
2) NO SPEAKING ENGAGEMENT IS TOO SMALL OR BENEATH YOU:
We all want to speak at MainStage at some huge conference. But unless you are best friends with Doug Fields, chances are that isn't going to happen. Take every speaking engagement as the real deal and treat it with honor and professionalism. Every gig builds on itself. If you do well, more doors open, if you suck, then that is the end. Don't half ass the small stuff and wait to try hard for the important ones. Chapel for a local christian middle school just as important and worthy of excellence as presenting at YS. Do a good job and say yes to everything.
3) SPEAK FOR FREE:
The dream is to get those $5,000 speaking fees. But unless you are besties with Doug Fields, that isn't happening. Everyone needs a speaker and nobody wants to pay. Use free speaking gigs to get your name out there and hone your craft. Plus being generous is awesome. Knock their socks off by doing such a good job and doing it for free.
4) BE REFLECTIVE:
Every speaking gig, every rejection is a data point. Don't get too lost in the quest for making it big, or making a name for yourself that you miss out on who it is God is designing you to be. Listen to God, listen to those who know and love you, and listen to your data points. If after a season of swinging for the fences you keep coming up short, then maybe the speaking thing isn't for you. God is gracious and opens and closes doors, and we have to be faithful to pay attention. Sometimes our dreams are only our dreams.
(And Doug, if you are reading this, I will speak at Main Stage for free) :)