Patience and the P.I.T.
“I’m fixin’ to quit my day job and go on the speaking circuit.”
After hearing a young single-mom’s desire to speak ending with this statement, I sat in stunned silence. How could I tell her the truth without deflating her passion? I couldn’t think of a way to sugar coat it, so I just plunged in, begging her not to quit her job that created a regular paycheck, paid the rent and kept the lights on.
Here’s the truth as I know it. There are lots and lots and LOTS of women who would love to turn their speaking dreams into a full-time gig … including me. Contrast that truth with another one I know for sure. Even though I’m on the speaker team of a nationally recognized ministry, I don’t make enough speaking to even come close to a full-time salary.
In fact, the only speaker I know who speaks enough to make it full time is Lysa TerKeurst. In case you don’t know Lysa, she’s amazing. Incredible. Everything in real life that she seems from the stage. I both love and admire her, but realistically I know not many of us will make it to her level of notoriety in our ministries. You might be the one (truly), but not many of us will.
One last truth. There is no speaking circuit. Or if there is, I haven’t found it.
I’ve said all the hard stuff, so you can take a deep relaxing breath now. 🙂 Encouragement follows!
This week is the first in a series during the month of September on speaker fees, and I just wanted to set a realistic but hopeful tone.
Is vocational ministry possible for Christian speakers? Yes. But there are two things you should know. It takes patience and years of building. Also, it may not look like what you thought when you started.
When Made to Crave, Lysa’s 14th (I think) book, came out 4 years ago and hit the New York Times Best Seller list, I remember hearing her say this in an interview, “People keep asking me what it feels like to be an overnight success. I tell them it feels like 17 years of very hard work, because that’s what it is!”
Seventeen years. For seventeen years Lysa served faithfully, honed her craft, showed up to speak to 5 people, wrote books that didn’t hit best seller lists, stood in line at airport security, schlepped boxes of books to resources tables…
She was patient.
She was persistent in her calling.
She worked tremendously hard. (I’ve seen this first hand, and let me tell you, she’s working harder than ever today.)
She loved God more than any acclaim, and I’m watching her get increasingly humble with increasing human fame. It’s beautiful.
That’s what patience has looked like for Lysa TerKeurst. For me, it’s a different journey with some of the same markers. My vocational calling has unfolded over time to include coaching and writing as well as speaking. Most likely I won’t ever speak in front of thousands on a Women of Faith stage, but I delight in being a tiny piece of so many speaker’s ministries through my coaching.
So if you want to do full-time vocational ministry, be open to a different look than you thought and be willing to go through the P.I.T. This is the phase my friend Leah calls “Put In the Time”. It’s the phase when you’re payed with “Thanks!” and maybe a Starbucks gift card. It’s the phase when nobody knows your name, but you serve whole-heartedly for The Name anyway. It’s a stage when you’ll probably keep your day job to pay the bills and grow the level of trust in your ministry community over time.
Patience and the P.I.T. That’s where we all start. It’s the proving ground and the holy place of shaping. It’s where we show God that He’s worth it all, and His pleasure in us is payment enough.
I’d love to hear about your first speaking opportunity! Let’s share and encourage each other no matter what stage we’re in.
Your posts are so incredibly helpful! Especially after feeling called to speak over 10 years ago, saying “no way Lord, not me, you got the wrong girl”, then came a stormy season surrendering saying, “here I am Lord. I’m Yours.” So where does a girl even begin? Everything you have offered is over the top helpful in guiding & discerning. So thank you for answering your calling!
You are right that the vision God lays on our heart may work it’s way out differently than we planned. I assumed speaking, but He has shown me other avenues in which to use this gifting. Such as Biblical Life Coaching, Mentoring & ministering to the needs of others in daily life. It’s exciting, but not always a paid thing. I’m prayerful for success to make this ministry a career, but believe you said it perfectly, “patience & the P.I.T”. My only two speaking engagements so far were without fee, but just experiencing the Lord through it all & the joy of sharing after a tumultuous season of getting me to that point meant so much. Thank you for your honesty & encouragement!
Thanks for sharing your story, Jenn! I love hearing how God uses all the puzzle pieces of experience, etc He’s created in our lives to weave together a calling.
Love this post and I remember hearing Lysa talk about that! I recently had someone contact me about speaking…it will be the first time outside of my circle. The gal doesn’t even remember how she found me, so I’m trusting it was God!! Anyway fees was a topic we talked about, so I’m very much looking forward to what you have to share!! Thank you!!
The first event I spoke for outside of my church was a referral from the pastor’s wife from a church I had gone to. She couldn’t speak that weekend. I might have seemed like “Plan B” to the event coordinator, but it opened the “Plan A” door for me!
Finally! Someone to tell the truth about this! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
While reading your post, my heart seemed to fall to me stomach and at times, I found myself squirming as I read this. I debated whether or not to respond. After a few hours of mulling it over, I thought I might as well admit the truth. You were absolutely right! I have “quit my job to go on the speaking circuit” at least 5-7 times in my career history. My husband just smiles at me and says, Ok, hon, I believe in you. You can do this.” And months later, I find myself cold-calling, networking among other things to try to get on the “speaking circuit.” And, several times, it has put our family in a financial bind.
What a harsh reality it was to read your post. I believe in myself. I’ve known since I was 21 that I was called to speak. Yet, if “your gift will make room for you,” why am I still this “free Speaker?” Recently, I have even gone as far as challenging myself to speak 50 times in 50 weeks and while all of them have been free, I am close to achieving my goal. All of my gimmicks, have not gotten me any closer to being a PAID full-time Speaker, but I am learning ALOT-about myself and about God’s grace. 🙂
And you’re right, my life, my speaking career, this whole process doesn’t look a thing like it does in my head. Thank you for being so blunt and for telling us like it is. I will be praying for that open door for you and you never know, you might be writing us one day to share that you’ve been invited to speak at Women of Faith. Many blessings to you.
Danielle, I so admire your tenacity. You’re living proof of Patience and the P.I.T! Redeemer is my favorite name of God, and I’m so thankful He’s used my missteps to refine me over the years too. I’m blessed by how precious your husband is and how your persistence has paid off–50 speaking events in 50 weeks!!! I think we’d all like to know how that came about. Care to share?
My very 1st time outside of my church was at a Shoney’s! How do you compete with a all you can eat breakfast bar? My 2nd time, I was placed at the “children’s” table and when they introduced me they went on and on about how wonderful the 9 year old was that spoke the year before me. Looking back at those two are making me scream in laughter!
I’m laughing too, Candee! Those firsts give P.I.T new meaning. 🙂 Thanks for sharing! This speaking journey isn’t always easy, but it’s NEVER boring.
Amy, you had me rolling on the floor with laughter. You hit the nail on the head. I loved how you spoke about Lysa and how she schlepped all her books and boxes along with her in the beginning, that’s me. hahaha.
I’m encouraged by your post, thanks and keep on ministering to us, we love it and are thankful to God for you.
Hugs to you, Sharon!