Straight from the Vulnerable Heart
By Lisa Elliott
One of the qualities about my personality that especially showcases itself through my speaking and writing is my vulnerability. I often hear how people really appreciate my “real” and “raw” honesty. It is, apparently, a big appeal! However, it is worth mentioning that it comes at great risk!
The Dictionary defines risk as: Expose (someone or something valued) to danger, harm, or loss.
Regardless of its effects, risk seems to be my calling! Throughout my life I’ve taken risks in relationships, with ministry initiatives, on speaking platforms, and most recently marketing ventures in the wake of publishing two books. I can certainly attest to the fact that promoting oneself puts one at risk for exposure to danger. If you have served the Lord in a public forum such as I have, you, too, have likely experienced firsthand, what risk truly means.
To serve the Lord in wholehearted devotion, especially when your calling is to bear your soul with all of your innermost thoughts, heartaches, and struggles is risky business! Your life can become, quite literally, an open book! Open for public opinion, criticism, speculation, and misunderstanding. Seeking out the right audience, putting yourself out there, and then entrusting yourself into the hands of a crowd, editor, or publisher is a high risk enterprise. Marketing yourself and your books can be a very intimidating, not to mention, humbling experience. Exposing a part of you that may or may not be well-received or accepted is a daunting task. Why? Because being vulnerable puts one at risk for rejection!
Speaking of vulnerability, did I mention that rejection is a huge fear of mine? To the sad degree that I find great reassurance when my Visa card inserted into the payment device displays “Approved”. Perhaps you can identify!
I’m sure you would agree that it’s less threatening to passively sit back and wait for people to come to you rather than pursuing audiences and putting yourself out there for the world to approve or disapprove of.
Recently, I discovered myself in a wilderness full of the fear of rejection, wasting away in my self-wallowing; questioning my mission, wondering about my purpose, ready to pack it all in and hide away forever. In that moment of fear, I offered a prayer to the Lord that wavered between the humble call of Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8) with the desperation of Hagar (Genesis 15). My prayer went like this; “Here am I, Lord… Find me.”
Don’t get me wrong, I am ready and waiting to do God’s will. I want to go where He sends me. I want to be available to give the message of hope that He’s planted in my heart that only I can share. But can I not serve Him faithfully, quietly, and safely without putting myself out there, risking opposition or rejection or the possibility of getting hurt… again and again?
Just as the Lord sought out and found Hagar, that day God revealed Himself to me as, “the God who sees me”. There in my wilderness, the Lord reassured me of my worth to Him. He redefined my identity in Him. And He reignited my calling for Him. Ultimately, He reminded me that to be used by Him is to risk!
He can do the same for you! He knows where you are! He knows where to find you! He knows how He wants to use you for His glory! And so I ask you what I’m asking myself. Do I want to allow God to use my vulnerability to bring glory to His name for His kingdom purposes, in spite of the risk involved? You better believe I do! It’s worth the risk!
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).
Sidebar: Speaking or Book Signing Etiquette
Here are ten principles I practice as both a speaker and an author. I trust they will help you to not only reduce the risk of rejection, but to find your confidence in the Lord as you use your story for His glory.
1. Prayerfully take the initiative. Contact places you would be interested in speaking or doing a book signing for. There’s a difference between self-promotion and making yourself available.
2. Thank the host, staff, or ministry team for the privilege of serving alongside them.
3. You are a guest. Be a gracious and courteous one.
4. Do what you’re told. This doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions if you see a way to do your ministry more effectively. However, leave the final say up to your host.
5. Have something to offer. For example, at speaking engagements I offer a give-away book(s). At book signings I offer free bookmarks to those who pass by, often without further conversation. That way, if they weren’t interested in me or my books at the time, they had a future reference… with no strings attached.
6. Don’t chase people down. Rather, graciously receive those who contact you or drop by your book table. Provide answers to questions they are asking without providing answers they aren’t asking.
8. Be approachable without being invasive.
9. Engage in natural conversation. Express interest in your contacts/visitors rather than making it all about you and your product.
10. Humbly thank your host, staff or ministry team for the privilege of being a part of their team for the time you have spent with them.
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org