Where Leaders Come to Think

Blessed to Speak


It’s too early for the alarm clock to ring. Thinking about this, I feel the first shot of adrenaline pulses through my veins. It acts like an espresso shot to my weary body. The city is dark, and the hotel is quiet.

4:30 a.m.

I’m wide awake thinking about my presentation starting in a few hours.

I reconcile my early morning internal wake up call as a chance to down enough coffee, exercise and run through my program. This early-to-rise moment is the result of my faulty internal clock not jiving with my outward plan.

What is time anyway I think to myself.

As a speaker, I focus the entire day around a condensed one hour period. Success requires planning well for maximum effectiveness. In speaking, the delivery is as weighty as the message.

6 a.m. the pressure is building. I’m awake and ready.

The coffee is kicking in and already I feel like lunch. The run through is flowing smoothly; I practice my transitions. I begin talking to myself – It should run smooth as this is one of my more popular offerings. Yet still, I am here to serve. I am here to make a difference by showing people a better way to lead.

I am beginning to feel the weight of the moment.

Of course to do my best is the goal. I check the nerves. Looking in the mirror, I ask myself how am I doing? Typically when I get nervous my brain locks up, and I think like I’m in kindergarten again.

I don’t want to deal with that today.

I settle in and quietly spend the rest of the morning praying. Talking with God. Reading the Bible. I ask God to let me serve Him and serve others with this talk. No, I’m not preaching – I’m serving. However, I know that I can’t do this on my own. Like Moses, I need God.

My iPhone announces an incoming text. It says, “Mark, you were born for this.”

For some reason, I believe it. My excitement level continues to rise to a fevered pitch. I can’t stop sweating. Great – another problem I quickly contend.

Time races on and now I am standing in front of a room that holds about 200 people. At 8:15 a.m. there is a mad dash for the 70 or so people to show up. Most sit down at the back of the room. That’s OK with me. A scattered audience makes my job harder, but the truth is I tend to spit a bit. Probably a smart move.

For a split second, I entertain a new feeling – like a wounded gazelle facing a pack of lions.

I smile through it, like at Army Airborne School, there is no turning back. I am continuing to learn how vital it is to step into the door and jump. What’s a person to do at this point anyway but jump?

I jump.

One hour later my ears welcome the applause. We say goodbye and run to the snack table for donuts and coffee. I breath in trying to remember how it went.

I know at this point it doesn’t matter.

What happens next is not up to me. Now is when the real work begins for the attendees.

Thinking back, I acknowledge that behind this solitary hour is many months of thought, creativity, preparation, practice, rehearsals, and memorization.

All this to offer my willing audience a choice. A choice to respond to the information or not.

My job here is over. I am now alone in thought facing the inner critic. I don’t like this guy but, at times, he can be helpful. What I notice the most is the silence. The inner buzz and rush of nerves vacates my body. Quietness feels comforting. I breathe and listen.

A scripture pops in my head.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God…will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus…And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7,19

I am thankful. I am lucky to have something to say. I feel blessed to speak.

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  1. janiese

    Hey Mark,
    This is wonderful. After years of preaching, teaching, and acting I get nervous before speaking. My voice is soft, and I don’t like how it sounds. What’s your advice for me? I know that God is going to take me places, but I lack confidence. Help!

    • Mark Mathia
      Mark Mathia04-16-2012

      Janiese – I can really relate. Sometimes I wish I had the kind of voice that carries a room and demands attention. the fact is I don’t. But we serve a super big God who can carry even the slightest whisper to the end of the earth. How about I attempt to gather my thoughts and write a post on this very subject? FYI – I will confirm that God is going to take you places! Thanks for the encouragement I look forward to sharing ideas with you.

  2. Eddy

    And…from one who witnessed the performance… Mark, you did a fantastic job!! It was all so natural for you.

    • Mark Mathia
      Mark Mathia04-15-2012

      Thanks for taking the trip with me Ed. “I have had some good complaints and some bad complaints.” HA!

  3. pastorjeffcma

    Great Job, Mark–nothing like good old introspection is there? It is fascinating when your entire professional life revolves around public speaking–whether that is speaking about leadership or the Scripture. I think it was Chuck Swindoll who said everyday is Sunday–as soon as one is done you anticipate the next one.

    I trust it went great–as you indicated we are rarely the best judges of that. Thanks for sharing.

    • Mark Mathia
      Mark Mathia04-15-2012

      Thanks Pastor Jeff – everyday is Sunday and in-between a labor of love. Nice.

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