That was the most intimidating crowd I have ever spoken to. I felt like a lion in a den of Daniels, like Samson at a barbershop, like a blade of grass facing a Weed Wacker.
I am a professional public speaker. I fly all over the world to speak in front of small groups and large crowds and everything in between. I've been doing the this for thirty years. I rarely get nervous because of an audience. But yesterday I was beyond nervous. I was totally intimidated by those 250 people in the pews in front of me. To put it in Tennessee English: I was scared spitless.
I am in Napier, New Zealand speaking to 600 Kiwi pastors at the Assembly of God national conference. I preached to the whole group the opening night. No problem. But those 250 staring at me in the second morning elective session had me shaking like a leaf in a typhoon.
I have spoken in many nations, many denominations, many cultures, but never to a group like this one.
On the way to the podium, I prayed in desperation, "God help me. Please!"
None of my best messages seemed appropriate for this group.
I continued my prayer: "God, you know my eschatological position doesn't allow me to predict a date for the rapture, but if it be thy will, now would be a great time to beam me up. And please hurry!"
God did not answer my prayer; the rapture did not happen.
So there I am, standing in front of 250 FEMALE pastors and pastor's WIVES. Yes, because of some strange cosmic mistake or a disturbance in the force, I'm the speaker at the WOMAN'S session.
I guess there is a first time for everything.
I have no messages in my iPad for women in general, female pastors, or pastor's wives. So, I preached a leadership message that I have preached to leaders (mostly men) all over the world.
I honestly had no clue if I had hit the mark or not. But to my great relief, several women approached me after my message with slight variations of this line:
"Thank you for speaking to us like leaders, rather than giving us the typical condescending woman's meeting message."
Lesson of the week: All leaders face the same obstacles, so I should speak to leaders - male and female leaders, young and old leaders - like they are leaders. And if I treat them like leaders, there is a good chance they will act like leaders and lead.