Tuesday, July 19, 2016

When The Walls Speak To You

 

Dustin moved out on Sunday night.

I always expected I would break down and sob when this happened.
Instead, I was too preoccupied with the tasks at hand, to have a meltdown.
I'm sure Dustin was grateful.

Since there was only a day to get the room ready for Lexi and Brody to move in, I had to get busy.

Everyone knows how much I adore Dustin. Not that I don't adore all my kids, for I do! However, everyone remarks about how much Dustin and I are alike and it's true. 

We are both INFJ's.
Musicians.
Poets.
Preachers.
Writers.

We both crave quiet spaces and places.
Being away from noise.
Out in the woods.
Books.
We are hard working people. (Neither of us can stand laziness.)

We both go to the wall for what we believe.
We'd die for it.

We're both deeply introspective introverts.
We interact with people when we need to in order to lead.

Because we can't help but lead.
It's in our blood.
In our bones.

We came out of the womb a few decades apart,  ready to change the world.

The list goes on and on of the similarities.

I'll miss him so much on a daily basis, coming in the door and feeling his fuzzy cheek as he brushes mine with a kiss while he's heading for the fridge to get a drink at the end of the day. But it's not like he's gone. He just moved into a staff apartment right down the road. (And, he answered my phone call even quicker than he normally does, when I called yesterday. So I take this as a good sign. I think he'll come home sometimes, especially when he really wants chicken casserole.)

While I was cleaning his room in preparation for Lexi and Brody to arrive, I couldn't help but read what was on the walls while I wiped them down.

A prolific writer, he chose to put favorite quotes or  important reminders - scriptural and otherwise - to himself on the walls.



I could see where he had times of inspiration and just pulled out a marker and wrote something to encourage himself. I love that.

He truly is a man after God's own heart.



I've read the walls countless times before but it was different this time, reading them after he was gone. I was reminded again of what an amazing young man he is.

I'm so proud of him, and I know the best is yet to come, for him...for Lexi and the children and for all of us.


What an incredible man occupied this room.

He left a legacy for those coming after him.

 

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

The Value of Group Norms

“Avoid meetings, if you can…they are a waste of time.” 

I’ve heard some prominent leaders say this. Some people are part of the school of thought that meetings have little value, failing to produce anything significant. My experience with meetings is that they are a key factor of success over my years of leadership. My pattern as a leader has always been to clearly establish a purpose for meetings and make sure initiatives are developed before we adjourn. Then, I inspect what I expect over the coming weeks and months.

When I became leader of the current team I serve with, it became clear we would need some new guidelines to have successful meetings and make the reaching of our goals a reality.   I was thankful when Joy Conley, one of our team members, shared the idea of  "Group Norms" with us. Group Norms are the four rules of every meeting that Joy utilizes in her teacher meetings at the public school where she serves a teacher trainer. We tried Group Norms and have never looked back. The norms provide excellent boundaries for every meeting that serve to keep us on track for success.

At the beginning of each and every meeting, the first item on the agenda is to remind everyone of the group norms. I ask Joy to take care of this and she does a great job. New members are educated about our norms from their first meeting, and veteran leaders receive a reminder.

The following are our Group Norms, and why each one is valuable.

No cell phones

Ever attended a meeting where everyone is tapping away at their phones while people are talking, texting and surfing? What about people who step out to take phone calls? These interruptions really affect the team focus – not to mention it’s disrespectful. We have a no cell phone rule during the meeting.  I believe it’s important wherever I am to be “all there.”  Cell phones have made it so much harder to do this, but good leaders are relentless in minimizing distractions to maximize productivity. I've observed some leaders (who do not serve on my team) who insist on keeping their phones on and taking calls during meetings - as if to give the impression that they are too important or in demand to let the call go to voicemail. Quite frankly that is a load of prideful hogwash. Leaders need to show the way by example, so I make sure my phone is on silent and tucked away during the meeting. I can't expect my team to do this if I don't.

Leading one of our team meetings
No hogs/no logs

Ever been in a meeting where one or two team members hog the entire conversation? Or a meeting where other team members sit there like bumps on a log looking like they wish they didn’t have to be there? Either extreme is annoying. That’s why we have a rule – no one hogging the conversation. We are careful that no one goes in a direction that is irrelevant to the pre-set agenda, and also watchful that no member is sitting there, uninvolved.  Everyone on the team needs to be fully engaged in the dialogue at hand. Each teammate's voice is valuable and we want it to be heard.

No one attending the meeting except team members

Ever been in a meeting where somebody who is not on the team drops in and affects things in some negative way? Yup. Us too. So, we’re not going to have that happen anymore. As much as we love the folks in our lives who aren't member of our team, we do not welcome them into our meeting. Serving on a team is a an honor, therefore, attending the meeting is not a privilege given to anyone but members. It’s not appropriate for those who aren't on the team to drop by and particularly for them to hijack the meeting in some way.  This rule applies to anyone not officially on our team, with the only exception being if I have invited a guest speaker to address us in the meeting on some topic. 

There are those on our team who are coming from across the state, making a three to five hour trip to get to the meeting. Prior to me becoming director, there were times leaders would have someone who wasn't on the team who traveled with them. Some may have been unable to drive for medical reasons, or they just wanted company on the trip. Sometimes those who accompanied a team member on a trip would be in our meetings and give their opinion on our items of business. This was not always a positive thing. When I became the director, I immediately put a stop to that and let everyone know if spouse or friend accompanied them to the meeting, they would need to find a Starbucks, a mall or another place to spend time during our meeting. This may seem unnecessary or even unkind, however once you have had the experience of a person attending your meeting who is not actually on the team take the meeting in an undesired direction, you will realize the value of this group norm. 

Our winning team
 No sidebar conversations

Ever been in a meeting where a few team members are in their own world having sidebar conversations, even about the topic at hand? Not only does it cause unnecessary noise in the room, it’s also distracting and disrespectful. Our guideline is that instead of sidebar conversations we expect our team members to wait their turn and share their idea or thought with the entire group. And, if the sidebar is about something  unrelated to the agenda, we expect them to wait until after the meeting to talk about it. 

The value of guidelines

"Do adults really need guidelines like this?" you may wonder. It depends on how successful you want to be. Getting off topic is a common problem in meetings and if the leader doesn't step up to gently steer things back on course, meetings can end up being a waste of time. 

We love our Group Norms. None of our team members appear to dislike them and many remark that they have utilized them for other groups that they lead. Try Group Norms with your team…you may find yourself accomplishing a whole lot more.


Monday, June 27, 2016

The Number One Thing That Has Helped My Marriage

Twenty-nine years ago today. We were just babies. Seriously, Larry was a teen. 

This is not a cliche.

Not a pat answer.

Not just something I feel I have to say just because I'm a Christian.

Or a minister, or a pastor's wife myself.

It's my life experience.

And it's reality.

So take it for what it's worth from a person who is celebrating 29 years of marriage, today.

This is the number one thing that has helped me more than anything in my marriage.

It's prayer.

Specifically, joining with someone else in fervent - warfare prayer.

It's important to pray with your spouse but I also believe it's important for a woman to have a Godly female friend who understands what is at stake, to stand in the gap with you and intercede. 

Matthew 18:19 says:  

"Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

There is power in agreement.

The enemy wants so badly to destroy our marriages. I've learned -- if you're going to stay together for a lifetime and particularly if you're going to leave a legacy, it's going to require some warfare. Because we're two human beings...two sinners saved by grace, walking this out every single day. There are days, staying together is war.  And I've never heard of anyone winning a war alone.

Sometimes you have to call in the reinforcements.

This is my friend Joanne.


Joanne MacDurmon Greer.

We've been friends for 31 years -- longer than I've been married.
She is my best friend from bible college, and my maid of honor.



The victories that have been won in my marriage couldn't have been realized without her.

She is my comrade, my fellow soldier in doing warfare over my life and family -- and hers too. We stand in prayer for each other, every day...for everything concerning marriage, motherhood, ministry and more.

Joanne, giving a toast at our wedding
So many times Joanne has reminded me, "Deanna, we don't even have to ask God's will in this matter because we KNOW how He feels about marriage and what He wants to do!"

Joanne has reminded me so many times that we can pray fervently knowing the will of God because it's clear He wants to bless our marriages. We don't have to wonder what God wants. We can pray confidently and boldly and know we are in His will.

Joanne and me, a few decade into friendship
There have been times Larry and I come to an impasse in our marriage. Sometimes it's Larry who needs to change on an issue. Sometimes it's me who needs to change. More times than not it's both of us who need to change. Whatever the case - what we are facing at the time seems insurmountable. When those times come, Joanne typically says, "Alright Deanna, this is one for God'."

When Joanne says it's one for God, she's saying that it's not going to be by our might or our power -- but only by the grace and power of God that things are going to change. And she always follows that up by saying, "And fortunately we serve a God of miracles!" So many things that were "one for God" have been accomplished in grand fashion by God, in my marriage. And when that happens, it's the best thing ever. Joanne and I just exclaim, "Look at God!!!" over and over again and thank Him for His goodness. God has done so many miracles in my marriage and there have been countless causes for celebration. And there will be many more! Because I'm in this for life. 
You can find a gal pal or a group of them who will sit around and commiserate about marriage. You can talk about how tough things are, bash men  OR you can find you somebody who knows how to go to war. The latter is much preferable. The first option brings no relief except the momentary instant gratification of spilling out to your girlfriend(s) about whatever is bothering you. The latter option actually has the power to bring change.

What do you want? A few seconds of relief? Or change? Take your pick.

Bashing and complaining brings no change. Intercession causes things to shift.

I know what I want.

Thanks Joanne, for trading high heels for combat boots on many days and fighting for Larry and me, that we can leave a God-honoring legacy.

Now all you ladies who are reading this...go find somebody who will go to war with you, on behalf of your marriage. It will help you and it is worth it.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

9 Ways You're Blessed and Probably Have No Idea

 
A cup of coffee I had on a date with Larry that was one of the greatest blessings I've ever had, as dates & coffee go. Although it's not what this post is about, coffee IS one of the countless blessings in life I am thankful for. :)


I saw this passage yesterday in the Message Bible, and it put a zinger in my heart.
Matthew 5:1-12

"When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble. " Matthew 5:1-12

I don't even know where to begin with the depth of what this passage spoke to me.  These twelve verses are percolating within me, giving me so much to consider and a plethora of encouragement.  Maybe they will speak to you too. 

Read them over and over again.

Even in the midst of the unexpected --challenges and disappointments  -- we are blessed people.

Help me God, to look for the blessing in everything. 

You are blessing me, through every circumstance I face.

 

Monday, May 30, 2016

When You Realize You've Had It All Along


These are my new $3 Walmart sunglasses that I recently purchased on sale. It's the little things, ya know. 

A few days ago I needed to run a quick errand. I hopped in my husband's car instead of mine because of where it was parked in the driveway. Traveling down the road headed toward the sun I reached for the place where I normally grab my sunglasses in my car. I realized my husband had no sunglasses in his car. I squinted and held my hand up, lamenting that the sun was in my eyes most of the way there and back.  I was talking to myself and really didn't care if anyone noticed.

As I returned from my errand and turned the corner onto our street, I touched my head and suddenly realized that my sunglasses had been there the whole time. I had taken a bike ride that morning and when I came inside the house, I  pushed my sunglasses on top of my head and forgot about them.

The point is this. Sometimes we complain about the lack of something and fail to realize, we've had it all along.

"Bless the Lord O my soul, and forget not all His benefits." Psalm 103:2

Have you forgotten your benefits?

It may be your job, your spouse, your church, a friendship, leaders who have invested in you and still are, the roof over your head, or your possessions.

Whatever it is, don't get to the end and realize you had what you complained about a lack of all along. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Women ARE the Thermostat!


Driving along on my journey to preach in Wauchula last week, I came upon this sign. As I often do when traveling and I pass something I want to capture, I stopped to take a photo.

Mothers set the temperature in the home.

We are the thermostat.

Whatever our mood, it impacts the whole household like no other person in the house.

While we set the tone, I believe we are also the person in the home who faces the most circumstances with the potential to affect our mood. No one cares about the state of the home more than we do. So, when everything falls apart or piles up, it impacts us like no one else.  None of my other family members seem to notice or care when this happens. But I personally experience a cloud of depression so real I can almost touch it when things aren't right at home.  It's even worse when I clean up the night before and after I go to bed someone messes it up.  I have found if I don't start playing worship music and begin to pray and seek the Lord for strength, it all goes down hill quick and stays there for quite a while.

Recently I listened to a message about mothers setting the tone (or "starting the fire" as she calls it)  by Pastor Deven Wallace, who is one of our speakers for the upcoming THRIVE Conference. It's one of the most powerful messages I've ever heard. I encourage every woman to listen, and then listen again. 



Tuesday, May 17, 2016

"How Did Your Books Get Published?"

Many people have asked me this question. The answer is...

I didn’t want to get out of bed or brush my teeth.

I was so broken emotionally, it hurt to breathe.

My upper body was in such pain that I rubbed it constantly. As I spoke to people I would cross my hands over my body and knead my shoulders, back, neck and arms over and over again - not caring about how bizarre it must have looked. (No one can ever tell me that emotional injury doesn't manifest in one's body.)

Credit: freedigitalphotos.net
I could have cared less about appearances. If people thought I was a freak, so be it. I was so terribly wounded and quite frankly at a dangerous place. I was close to checking in to a hospital. I really don't know what stopped me.

A visit to a Christian therapist revealed I was suffering from complex trauma, significant loss and complicated grief. 

In the midst of my suffering, I blogged for catharsis. I didn't care about prettying anything up. Quite a number of people read all of the anguish I poured out. Maybe it was like when you drive by a bad car accident...you can't help but look. For better or worse, people read my story, in droves. Women and men. People from every walk of life. Christians, Buddists, Universalists, atheists, agnostics, and  Pentecostals. Doctors, lawyers, professors, pastors, college kids, the unemployed and stay-at-home-moms. The young and old and everyone in between. They not only read --they interacted with me, and encouraged and spoke into my bruised spirit.

I met Laura Dennis online, who became a very close friend. She’s an adoptee, a blogger and well known in both of those communities. She is also founder and CEO of Entourage Publishing.

When I was going through some of the most agonizing moments of my life, Laura said, “I think your 14-post blog series of your personal story should be a book." “No," I sighed. "I’m doing well to just get out of bed. I’m going to therapy to try to move forward, and I am in no shape to do a book.”

I kept saying no, and Laura kept saying, “Please consider it?” Finally I said, “What would I have to do?”

“Nothing but take your story down off of your blog and turn it over to me," she said. 
Ugh.

I didn’t want to do that, because of the comment section. On especially terrible days I would go through and read all the comments. There were hundreds of them on some posts. The comments were overwhelmingly positive and a comfort to my soul. I didn’t want to part with all of this life-giving encouragement that kept me going on many days.

Laura kept prodding.

I finally decided that if I could copy the comments into a document and still have them to read, I could handle taking the story off of the blog.  At a time when my trust level was at an all time low, I trusted Laura. I’m so glad I did.

We gave a two week warning to readers that the story was coming down off of the blog. I will never forget a frantic call that came into our church office from a woman in California who had just started reading it the day it was to come down. She discovered the story that day -- was in the middle of it and was upset that it might be removed before she finished. Reading my bio she saw the name of the church where my husband and I pastor, Googled the phone number and called. I let her know we would be removing  the story from the blog at midnight and she had a few hours to hurry up and finish. She did.

A year later after removing the story from the blog, Worthy To Be Found was released and the same people who loved the story as a blog also seemed to love it as a book. Actually many of them seemed to love it even more because I expounded on it in the book and filled in more details.

I am eternally grateful for saying yes. Entourage Publishing also re-released my former book, Juggle. I had self-published Juggle two years prior and the response to it was excellent, however Laura asked to re-release it to make some improvements and more in line with where I was going with Entourage. It made that book all the better. Subsequently, Restored, the sequel to Worthy to be Found, was released. In March of 2016 my book, Stronger: 30 Powerful Principles for Leaders debuted.

I am now years beyond that difficult time in my life. Jesus, counseling and community have done wonders in mending my broken heart. 

People hunger for transparency. In a world of fakes, phonies and frauds they crave the real thing. I find that the more openly I share, the more people showed up to read and interact.

In addition to my four books with Entourage, I was asked to be a contributing writer for five anthologies. I discover that the more transparent I am, the more opportunities come.

Every writer seems to have a unique path to publishing. 

Mine was an emotional breakdown.

I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, but it's my story.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"I'm Sorry But I've Got Something Going On..."

"I'm sorry I dropped the ball, but I've got something going on..."

I've heard this excuse too many times to count in leadership. And here's a question I have to anyone who offers this up as a reason for not fulfilling a responsibility...

When don't you have something going on?

There will never be a time when you don't have at least one challenge in your life.

I look at every  person on the leadership team I serve with and I can name something big (and stressful) that each one of them has going on. It could be a financial hardship, a son or daughter getting married, a grandchild on the way, an illness, a church conflict, a marriage issue or a myriad of other things.

Every time I get up to preach I could truthfully say, "Bear with me folks, I have _________________ going on."

But I don't. 

Leaders who desire to produce over the long haul need to come to terms with the reality that they will ALWAYS have something going on. And if you let what's going on stop you, you'll never move forward. Pressing through is essential, to reach what God has for you.

This past week I was having lunch with our Pen Florida Girls Ministries Director, Bonnie Pait. We had a discussion about this and she agreed with me that we will always have something going on while we are fulfilling the call of God on our lives. After our lunch she texted me and said that after our conversation she was still mulling it over and had this thought: "If there was nothing else going on in my life when I did things, then I would be able to do it in my own strength. But going things with multiple things going on requires the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit."

So...will I rely on the grace and power of God and press through or will I offer up excuse after excuse, live in mediocrity and never reach my destiny?

Monday, May 09, 2016

More Than a Village
Spiritual Parenting in Today's World





What a child learns to believe by age thirteen, they will die believing. That's what research by the Barna Research Group shows, about the majority of people. Yesterday I preached a message at our church for Mother's Day about the need for spiritual parenting. If the majority of our kids are making a decision by the age of thirteen, we'd better be about the Father's business. It takes more than just any kind of village or any kind of people to raise children for God. Spiritual  parenting requires Godly moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, and Christian adults in general.

The need is great. Did you know that sixty-four percent of decisions are made for Christ before the age of eighteen and seventy-seven percent are made before the age of twenty-one?(Source: Barna Research Group)

Those statistics should light a fire under us! We must spiritually parenting our own children, and care about reaching as many others as possible.

To spiritually parent requires taking notice of the young people around us. When my husband was a very young teen (and a new Christian) he was the only one in his family attending church. The family who had been giving Larry a ride to church let him know that due to distance,  it required too much gas money to continue doing so. Larry didn't go to church for a while. One day he came home from school and to his shock, Harry Sorbo, a board member of the church, was at his home. Harry told Larry he noticed he had not been at services lately and asked why. Larry told him he didn't have a ride anymore. Harry said, "I'll take care of that right away." From that day forward, Harry saw to it that Larry was in church every time the doors were open.

Harry was not the youth pastor, nor even one of the official youth leaders. He was not Larry's Sunday School teacher. He was simply a man in the church who noticed and cared. Without Harry Sorbo watching out for my husband, I don't know whether he'd be serving God today - or a pastor. Harry wasn't the only significant leader in my husband's life. There were many men and women of God who made investments in his life.

Many times we do nothing because we are waiting for something "official" to take place. A lot of people wait for the pastor to ask them to teach a class, or believe that doing something of significance means helping a larger group of people - not an individual.

The truth is, helping just one person does change the world.

Who are you reaching out to?

 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

What Communicators Can Learn From Donald Trump
(You Can Learn Something from Everyone!)



“What is the fascination with Donald Trump?  I don’t get it.  I’m stumped about what people – especially Christians, see in him, and why so many are following him.”

I see a variation of this statement on Facebook at least once a day.   

Donald Trump isn’t my candidate.  My choice has already dropped out. This post isn't about my choice for president, for quite frankly I'm undecided Many say it's going to come down to the lesser of two evils, come November 8. I don't believe that. I believe what we will eventually be faced with is the evil of two lessers. But I digress...

The goal of this post is to not to promote anyone. I want to share my thoughts on the fascination factor as well as give those who preach, as well as anyone who communicates publicly -- something to think about.  I'm a firm believer, we can learn something from every person and every conversation. The lessons from Trump are rich, pun intended.

There are two reasons many people have chosen Donald Trump as their candidate. There are others I'm sure, but these are the two main ones that I see.

The first reason has nothing to do with communication.  Marc Nuttle, former advisor to President Reagan, reports that 85% of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track, and 81% of Americans believe the government is corrupt. Corrupt is a strong word. This means the majority of Americans don’t just believe the government is inefficient or disorganized. They believe the government is absolutely corrupt.   

Nuttle brings the point forward that when you pick up an apple out of a barrel of apples and it's rotten, do you choose more from that barrel? Probably not. You’ll select a whole new barrel to get your apple from. Because if one is spoiled there are probably more to follow. And you don't want to take a chance. People want to avoid the barrel with the spoiled apples. So they go to the one candidate who is not only outside of the establishment, but scares the establishment out of their minds. If a candidate frightens the establishment, that is a confirmation to many, “This is our man!”  

Now, many believe the American people are simply going from one barrel of rotten apples to another, if they choose Trump. But others aren’t convinced.  Have you ever heard the saying, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t?” It simply means there is less apprehension when you already know what you’re dealing with even if what you are currently dealing with is horrible. The American people know what they have when it comes to the current establishment and according to statistics, most are sick of it.  (Last night, out of curiosity, I looked up the latest Rasmussen poll and it appears at this moment, only 27% of Americans polled believe the United States is headed in the right direction.)
 
Second, and here's where communication comes in -- Trump speaks from the heart. Many people point out – it’s a bad heart. That may or may not be true.  I truly don't know - I'm not his judge. Never-the-less, what I can see is that he speaks extemporaneously, not in polished sound bytes. People underestimate the huge value of that. Sorry, the YUGE value of that. People respond to heart-speaking, as I call it, for good or bad.

Years ago in pastoring I was perplexed when my husband or I would deliver a message or vision cast and somebody in the congregation would come up to us afterwards and say, “I really want you to share your heart…” or “I’m looking forward to pastor sharing his/her heart…” or “I think the church really longs for you to share your heart…” and I’d think, “What do you think we just did???”

Being an established leader now versus a rising one, I realize what the people meant by that. They were saying, “When are we going to hear you share unscripted? When are you going to step away from the pulpit, get away from your notes, look into our eyes and speak into our hearts?”



Everything changed years ago when I read Andy Stanley’s book, Communicating for Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication. I recommend it to anyone who preaches, or for anyone whose vocation is communication. It was the most helpful resource I've ever read on the subject and I continue to read it now and then as a refresher.

I started heart-speaking and it made all the difference.  Let there be no misunderstanding -- I don’t wing it. I study and prepare notes, however when it comes to the time to actually deliver, I either don’t use them, or I use them only as a touch point. A touch-point for me is when I come back to the pulpit to quickly touch base – read the scripture and glance to see what my next point is before I step away again, look into the people’s eyes and say what’s in my heart.  And if I'm presenting a vision casting I never use any notes - at all. I've found more than ever in those moments, it's important to maintain eye contact the entire time.  

I’ve noticed that much greater response comes at the conclusion when I speak 20 minutes from my heart than 40 minutes of sharing a scripted presentation.  (Yes, I know that is also largely a result of prayer! But I have seen the results with prayer, and both methods of communication. Prayer along with heart-speaking wins every time.) The exception for me would be when I'm asked to present a workshop or seminar where 50 minutes to an hour of speaking is requested and there are a lot of statistics/details that need to be covered. In that case, I utilize notes more. Even so I try as much as possible to step away from them as much as possible.

We also see through Trump's example that the pre-requisite for people to follow you isn't an uncomplicated, perfect life on display.  Prettying things up isn't necessary to relate to people in fact, it can actually be a detriment. 

How does this translate to preaching?

 If I am introduced and begin a message by saying: "Good evening everyone. I'm  Deanna and I'm honored to speak to you tonight. Before I begin my message I want you to know, I've written four books that are out on sale in the lobbyI share many principles of success in these books and you might want to pick them up, not only for you but for a friend. Tonight we've got a special sale going on if you purchase the entire collection. Be sure to make your way to the product table after this session. I'd love to sign your book for you. Alright, let's open our bibles to Matthew 6:25..."  

Nobody gives a rip. Well, I mean, if one of my best friends were there they might respondBut few people in the audience would care about what I just said.  Why should they?

However...

If I am introduced and begin a message by looking directly into the people's eyes and saying, "Good evening everyone. My name is Deanna. There was a time when I had so much overwhelming anxiety in my life, I bit my nails   until they bled every day. I had so much fear I would toss and turn until three or four in the morning. I never imagined myself being free of any of this!   And then one day, Jesus did a work in my life. He can do it in yours too! Maybe you can relate to this. Right now, you are wondering if you can ever be free. God sent me here with a message for you tonight, my friend.  You can be free. If you have your Bible, turn with me to Matthew 6:25..." 


Everyone is tuned in. Not only that, some won't even wait until after service to friend request me on Facebook. They will say, "From the first few sentences of your message, I felt like I had known you forever..."  

People have little time and attention span for those they sense are full of pretense. And they want to know, "What's in this for me?" When you share transparently from the passion deep within about something that affects their life - they move close to you.

Communicators can learn from Trump that a flowery speech and a perfect life isn't a must - but transparency is, as well as talking about the issues that matter most to peopleTo say Trump is crass in some of his debates, press conferences or interviews is an understatement. And, to everyone's amazement, the more uncivilized he is the more people eat up what he says. When someone who heart-speaks about important issues  but does so in an uncouth manner gains millions of followers, what could we accomplish through heart-speaking in an integral, loving way? 

 
Many people can’t understand why Donald Trump has won the hearts of many in the Christian community when he has a prideful, unrepentant, and angry heart. The answer is, they are clearly willing to take a chance on a bad heart as opposed to a heart they have never heard. 



Photo Credits:
Trump sketch: freedigitalphotos.net
Deanna Shrodes photo: Rachael Ann Rice Photography