As Christian writers and speakers, it’s vital that we monitor our motives and notice the need of our audience. We must regularly ask ourselves:
- Why do I step up to a microphone in front of an audience to deliver a spoken message?
- Why do I spend hours at the keyboard to craft a piece of writing?
The pat answer, of course, is “to bring glory to God.”
But the truth is that even after a quarter-of-a-century as a professional communicator, I still wrestle with two self-centered motives.
Self-Centered Motive #1: I want to be heard.
This is a natural human desire, of course. But it’s a dangerous motivation for public speaking.
An audience senses our neediness, our thirst for validation. If they withhold their approval, we go home devastated because our self-worth was on the line. If they give their approval, we go home determined to do it again because it felt so good.
When I want to be heard is our primary motivation, we will be tempted to pick “hot” topics that seem popular, guaranteed to get us the attention we seek.
Self-Centered Motive #2: I have something to say.
While having something to say is an improvement over simply wanting to be heard, this, too, is an immature motivation for sharing a message.
We can become so wrapped up in my story, my outline, my central point we become consumed with preparing what we have to say. And we can defend our hyper-focus as “striving to provide excellence to the audience.”
When I have something to say is our primary motivation, we will be tempted to pick people who seem willing to listen to us and overlook everyone else.
Notice the Need With Your Name on It
The best way I’ve found to combat self-centered motives is to ask the Holy Spirit: Help me notice the need with my name on it.
God gives us, as speakers and writers, the blessing of a burden when we notice another person’s pain and start to wonder, “What can I possibly do about this?”
Now, we have a real reason to speak out, a real reason for people to listen up. Not a salve for our inner ache for significance, not a prop for our sagging ego, but a true passion for sharing with hurting people the healing and hope that we’ve found in Christ alone.
When noticing the need with your name on it is your main motivation, you recognize that you’ve been picked by God “for such a time as this.”
As your speaking and writing flow from a passion to serve people, lives will change.
And God will be glorified.