As I finished my undergraduate studies, it was the perfect time to reflect upon my past four years. What have I learned? What do I want to remember? How can I share my newly acquired knowledge with others? My reflection was interrupted when Chester asked me to preach on Youth Sunday.
After initial hesitation, I took a deep breath and accepted the challenge, even though my major in chemistry did not leave me well-practiced in speech writing or public speaking. Family friends, my parents, and of course Dr. Clingenpeel and Dr. Bagby advised me to speak about topics with which I was most familiar and comfortable. Armed with personal stories and an underlying message, I quickly went from not enough to say to way too much to say! How was I supposed to cleverly blend my message, my stories, and my light hearted jokes? Needless to say, I have a newfound respect for pastors who humbly offer us insight on God’s word week after week.
Once I completed a rough draft of my sermon, I realized that I had completed only half of the battle; weak speech delivery can butcher any message no matter how eloquent the words. That fateful Sunday morning, I took a deep breath, mustered all my courage, and climbed the steps to the top of the pulpit. Little did I know that God had, with military precision, placed loving friends and family in the pews directly in front of me; my fears were whisked away by the smiles and supportive faces staring right back at me. I realized that these people were present to hear my message because they fully believed in me. The congregation witnessed me proudly wrap up my speech with a big smile on my face, yet no one had a clue that I wobbled down the stairs while clinging to the handrail. In hindsight, I once again see that I “can do” whatever I put my mind to as long as I have the support of God and loved ones. My challenge to each and every person reading this article is to continue pursuing challenging opportunities, even the ones which seem impossible – you never know what you “can do!”