I love serving the Lord as a "teacher of good things," but life as a traveling teacher or "speaker," as most call it, is an odd life.
First, there's the invitation: "Hello Mrs. Taylor. You don't know me, but my sister's mother-in-law's grandma heard you speak, and we'd like to invite you to our ladies' retreat." (I am on the other end of the phone wondering, "Are there spiders at this retreat?" Retreat is sometimes code for "camp," and I'm an unhappy camper. "Camp" is synonymous with "bugs and insomnia."
The emails are just as funny as the phone calls: "Dear Mrs. Taylor, I exercise to you almost every day, and I told my Pastor's wife about you and we were wondering if you could teach at our ladies' conference." (I am reading the email and wondering how she exercises TO me, and do I get any credit for the calories burned? I later find out that the emailer is referring to a lesson recorded on CD.)
The invitations that feel the most ominous are when the Pastor himself calls: "Mrs. Taylor, this is Pastor Authority Voice from Say Yes Baptist Church. We're having a ladies' event and we want you to be our guest speaker." (I am on the other end of the phone wishing that I wasn't getting a call directly from the Principal's office.)
No matter how I receive the invitation, I see them as important requests that must be handled with prayer. I never take any invitation lightly, realizing that this is what the Lord has given me to do, and when it works out, it's always a blessing. "Man's goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way?" (Prov. 20:24)
The work begins after we say "yes."
Deciding which lessons to teach is a matter of prayer and labor. Although some lesson topics really flow, it usually takes several drafts to get to a final lesson. I used to fill the trash with the lesson drafts, but that seemed so wasteful. Now after printing a preview draft, if it doesn't ring the bell, I cut it into scrap paper. Most of the scrap paper in our house has my "failed" lessons on the back.
Writing lessons takes countless hours, all year round (except during holidays), and I need the Lord to direct me every time. My "motto verse" for writing projects is Proverbs 16:3: "Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established." Often, the lessons that make me the most uncomfortable are the ones that people tell me helped them immensely. If you've ever heard me teach, you already know that every lesson is founded on Scripture. This is how God "establishes my thoughts."
When I arrive at the hotel before a conference, there is usually a gift basket of treats. On one of my trips, I was given a box of Junior Mints. I love chocolate covered mints! I put them in my tote bag and left the tote in the car, completely forgetting about the 100-degree Tennessee heat. When I got to the airport, I pulled out what was supposed to be my special treat, but the box felt funny. Nothing rattled around when I shook the box. "Oh oh," I thought as I opened the flap and found a mixture of brown and gray goop (the gray was the mint filling, once upon a cooler temperature). Oh well, I dug around in my tote bag, found a plastic spoon and proceeded to enjoy my Junior Mint Mousse. Necessity is the mother of invention, you know. I could be on to something here...
Sometimes this "odd job" gets so hectic that it makes me feel like melted chocolate, but I still love serving the Lord as a "teacher of good things." I will keep my chocolate in my purse next time, though.
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Eph. 2:10)