I will be delaying my weekly Getting to Know You post until Saturday, at which time I will announce the winner of this week’s June Birthday giveaway. Speaking of which….have you registered for this week’s June birthday giveaway. You only have until Saturday morning at 7am. Go here to register.
This week I received an email from someone who desires to become a speaker, asking me to share my speaking journey. As I thought about my reply, I decided to share it with all my readers. Many of you know the story of how the Lord called me to a speaking ministry and the ‘on the job training’ I had in the years prior to my call. Here is a portion of the email that prompted these thoughts.
Hi Leah, I was researching local speakers today and came across your website. It’s a very nice site, by the way. I am interested in becoming a speaker and I would love to hear about your journey from your salvation until today.
I have always enjoyed public speaking. Yes, I know, I’m a nerd. In Junior High School, I was on the debate team and really enjoyed it. I never had a fear of speaking in public, even in an extemporaneous setting like a debate.
A few years after finishing pharmacy school, I took a job with Bristol Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Company as a medical liaison. A large part of my job was providing presentations to physicians and mid-level providers about the medications BMS had in the market, one of which was a medication for cholesterol known as Pravachol.
After a short career with BMS, I took a job at Emory University in Atlanta with Dr. Virgil Brown, a world renowned lipidologist. A lipidologist is a specialist in cholesterol disorders. I was responsible for overseeing the clinical research trials for which Dr. Brown functioned as the lead investigator. I worked on both Niaspan, Baycol, and Lipitor long before they came to market. In fact, I used high dose Lipitor in patients with cholesterol abnormalities a full two years prior to it being commercially marketed. Our average patient in the Lipid Clinic had a total cholesterol of around 400-500 and an LDL (bad) cholesterol above 250. We saw the worst of the worst.
Because I had extensive experience with Lipitor, Niaspan and other medications used to treat cholesterol disorders, the pharmaceutical companies who made those medications began asking me to become a paid lecturer to teach physicians and other medical personnel about the proper use of cholesterol medications. I WAS IN HEAVEN!
I spent much time traveling around the country speaking to physicians; teaching them the proper uses of the cholesterol altering medications. I have often been asked if speaking to doctors made me nervous. My answer has always been ‘no’. I was never nervous because I knew that I knew more about the medications than they did, with only a few exceptions. I had the opportunity to do a lot of traveling and made incredible money doing it.
Then, when Greg and I moved back to north Georgia in late 1999, all of that came to a screeching halt because I could no longer work for the Lipid Clinic and live 2 hours away. I missed it so much and assumed my speaking career was over forever.
Little did I know that over the course of the next seven years, the Lord would call this prodigal back to Jesus. I had accepted Jesus as my Savior at the age of 15, but walked away from Him in my twenties. I spent the next seven years getting reacquainted with my Jesus and diving deeply into His Word each and every day.
By 2006 I began to develop a burning desire to speak and teach the Word. Every time I would sit in church and listen to the pastor or attend a conference I would nearly cry with a longing to speak again. It was an incredibly intense desire. In those days the Lord was dealing with me about pride and every time the desire to speak rose up in me, I would push it down by telling myself that I could never speak and teach the Word because I would end up making it all about me and not about Jesus.
By late 2007, I was in horrendous turmoil….fighting the overwhelming desire to speak by telling myself it would be a prideful thing to do. In November of 2007 I attended the Lifeway Women’s Ministry Leadership Forum in Nashville, Tennessee where I sat in session after session, hearing speakers talk about their ministries and how the Lord was using them. I was completely miserable because I was fighting the calling God had placed on my life. One of the sessions I attended was with Priscilla Shirer. It was really a very small group of attendees…perhaps 100. I remember very little that Priscilla said because I was miserable with longing to be speaking and teaching the Word.
The one part I remember vividly was when Priscilla asked us, “Is there something in your life that you have convinced yourself you will never attain?”
Well, she had my attention!
She went on to encourage us to believe God will bring it to pass. If that ‘something’, that desire is from Him, He will make it happen.
Immediately I knew she had spoken a word from the Lord specifically for me.
I went back home from Nashville and with lots of prayer sent out an email to a few key people in my life who were in women’s ministry. The encouragement I received was all I needed to formally launch The Point Ministries. For several years I had been writing a weekly devotional that went out to about 125 people via email. I transitioned to a blog, developed a simple brochure that detailed my availability to speak and off I went.
The Lord blessed me in that first year with several speaking opportunities. I was stunned that He would use someone like me in His Kingdom work. Stunned, I tell you. I had such a scandalous past. Yet, He blessed my meager efforts.
Over the years, God has allowed me the privilege of speaking to so many wonderful groups of women. Some years the opportunities have been more numerous than others. I will admit that in those years when the speaking invitations were few, the Lord and I had to work through my disappointment. There were times I felt that He had let me down. The year I wrote the Legacy Bible study was one of those years and I was, quite frankly, mad at God. I saw Him giving other women speaking opportunities that I felt I should have had. (Just being honest here!)
God reminded me that He knows best where He wants to use me and that my ministry is not about me. It is about Him. He called me to it and He will place me where He wants me. He has things that only I can do. His plans for me are for good.
What is the greatest lesson I have learned in my speaking journey? To trust His heart and bend my knee to His will. Especially when it does not match up with my expectations.
I’m in one of those lean seasons at present and Satan has tried so hard to convince me to be angry with God.
It is NOT working, old boy.
I trust my Jesus to place me where He desires for me to be. Not one place more, not one place less. In the meantime, I stay faithful to the last word I heard from Him. I’m writing a new Bible study (Hebrews) and doing a ton of one-on one ministry. One day, by God’s grace, my speaking calendar will be full again. Until that time, I fix my eyes on Jesus….the One who called me into ministry. The One who sustains my ministry.