Monday, February 21, 2011

Excerpt from Motivational Speech, "Use Your Gifts"

When God created us, he gave each of us special gifts, some call them talents, that are unique to us. Do you recognize the gifts God has given to you? Have you thought about the gifts you’ve been given? Do you know why you were given those gifts?

One of the gifts that is prevalent in my family, that was passed down to me was the gift of song. My growing up years, and still today, one thing I love is singing. I love music. Right out of high school I went to college. My chosen major was voice, performance. I received several scholarships and had big dreams that included a very popular street in New York City, Broadway. I wanted to be a star. I was good. I knew I was good.

The college I attended was a Christian based college. We had chapel services and I regularly attended. I was a Christian. That is what Christians do. So, I went. My voice professor approached me one day and informed me I was to sing for chapel. A solo. I was excited. The chapel was enormous. The acoustics were fabulous. And, I could invite everyone I knew so they could come and hear me sing. The year was 1985, that kind of dates me, so please, don’t do the math. The Christian music scene was really gaining momentum with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith’s entrance into the genre. “Friends” by Michael W. Smith, was a huge hit and that is what I decided to sing. I practiced. And practiced some more.

The day came. I stood and looked out at my adoring fans, all neatly line up in rows. I was always in the gym during college. I was friends with the whole basketball team. They took up a few rows, front and center, and they all gave me the thumbs up. I simply smiled and nodded to my fellow music student who was seated at the grand piano center stage. I stood right next to the piano.

I turned to him again, this time I smiled a little harder with a bit of a nod, letting him know I was ready. I wasn’t nervous. I grew up with this gift. It was like breathing to me. He looked at me, with a question in his eyes. I looked down and realized he was playing. I couldn’t hear anything. It was like God reached down and literally put his fingers in my ears. I was horrified. There were hundreds of eyes, staring at me, wondering what I was doing. I tried to sing. I could see people whispering. I knew I was singing in a different key than what was being played, but there was nothing I could do. Finally the horror ended and I made my escape. I walked the halls with my head down, in shame. I questioned God. Why did this happen? And I heard that still small voice say, you made this gift I gave you, all about you. When you invited all those people to chapel, it wasn’t so they could hear about me; that I love them and died for them so they could live with me for eternity, You were puffed up with pride. You wanted to take the glory for yourself. I brought you this far, through so much, I am not going to let you ruin yourself.

It was one of the hardest, most humiliating times of my life. I also learned one of the most important lessons of my life. Everything, and I mean everything I do, is for him. With each volleyball serve, I whispered, this is for you. With each song I sang, this is for you. Everything, especially anything I was apt to take pride in, was to give God the glory.

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