It has long been one of my favorite qualities about Crossroads that we reach people in all seasons of their careers. Previously I have shared that I found Crossroads when I was disengaged in my current job (a vocational ministry job, I’m slightly ashamed to admit) and feeling completely misemployed. The Bible says in Colossians 3:23: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. I knew that I was not only failing miserably at this, but something HAD to change.
I signed up for a Crossroads Career small group to work on discovering what would be the right fit for me and allow me to use my gifts. While working through the curriculum, the Lord spoke very clearly to me about something: He was going to use me, and I needed to prepare. I wasn’t entirely sure what all that would include, but as I prayed, worked through the material, and talked with my group one next step seemed very obvious: I needed to be ready to speak. Ephesians 6:19 says: Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel. I knew my time to share was coming and that I was being instructed to prepare.
Around that time, I was invited to visit a Toastmasters International chapter in St Pete, FL. A close friend of mine was competing against her husband in a local speech competition and she asked me to come support her. I did. I was fascinated; I listened with rapt attention as they both delivered well thought-out, funny, and insightful speeches. I also quickly noted that the atmosphere promoted success. Toastmasters prides itself on being an encouraging environment for all levels of public speaking and truly, it is.
I visited a few more times (you’re allowed to visit as often as you like before you commit to joining) and within a month or so knew this was the right next move. I signed on. I was amazed that the cost for my chapter (they vary slightly depending on the group and your area) was around $100 per year. Less than $10 a month. I went to my bosses and asked permission to come into work a little late on Thursdays to do some personal and career development and they quickly agreed.
It’s hard to sum up what the next two years held for me as I worked through the Competent Communicator and Competent Leader manuals in my club. I participated in competitions, worked hard to go from 27 “Ums” in my first speech to 0 in my last three speeches, and even discovered that I’m way better at impromptu speaking (that was my niche for competing) than I am at prepared speeches. I quickly made amazing connections and friends as I worked under a mentor and eventually mentored new members myself. I served as my chapter’s VP of Public Relations for a year. I continue to believe it’s one of the best ministry and career moves I’ve made.
Within my first 6 months of Toastmasters, I was graciously invited to join my churches speaking team and I knew instantly this was what the Lord has been slowly speaking to me about – I needed to be ready, and now I was. I’ll admit I’m no Beth Moore but the progress I made and the confidence I gained from my years in Toastmasters have proven invaluable both in my careers and interviews, and in serving my church and other churches and ministries. Also, after being promoted (thanks Crossroads for preparing me for that ask) I was required to do a lot more presenting to our leadership and board and I felt ready. I even spent some time a few years later in Sales and was amazed at how naturally selling came to me after 2 years of working on my communication skills.
It’s impossible for me to know exactly where you are today as our readership spans so many demographics and job seasons, but please hear me when I say: invest in yourself. The time you put into being prepared for what the Lord has for you—both from a career perspective and as you serve Him in unpaid roles he multiplies. I believe we are called to be ready. For me, that meant preparing to say a lot more ‘yes’ to using my voice to teach His Word. I will say with 100 percent certainty that I don’t believe there’s a person who could read this that would not benefit from Toastmasters, but maybe that’s not the area you most need to improve right now.
Use your time whether unemployed, misemployed, disengaged, or even fully content in your current role to prepare for what the Lord has for you. If it’s Toastmasters, amazing. If not, ask the Lord to show you and then listen for what he calls you too. Our workbook does a great job of helping you hear God and I hope you’ll put in that time with Him. I know that when we are willing, He does mighty things in and through us.
Becca Christensen is a Crossroads Career Board Member and the editor of this blog since 2020. She recently moved into accounting within the automotive industry. She’s an avid reader, an enthusiastic football fan, and competitive at any and all board games.
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Though I have preached for some 25 years, public speaking outside of a prepared sermon makes me extremely uncomfortable and nervous. I am presently unemployed and would benefit from Toastmasters for sure.
Hey Philip –
Public speaking can be terrifying and even when you’re use to one kind, others continue to be scary! Toastmasters is a great program and they give you the chance to work at many forms of communication. Highly recommend and would love to hear what you think if you visit a chapter near you!
Such a wonderful story and great suggestion! I will look into Toastmasters for myself.
Hey Martha – thank you! The groups are so fun and interactive even for guests! Hope you enjoy.
I just recently closed my landscaping business after 25 years. About 15 years ago I felt God called me to begin the creation of a christian day planner…which I followed and is called “A Life Well Lived”. I’m at my own crossroads now and not sure which direction to begin walking but feel drawn toward ministry many days. Public speaking has always been a challenge for me as it is for most people… definitely a skill to develop. Thanks for this email message today. It has made my spirit a little lighter.
Hey Joseph –
Thanks so much for being part of our community. I’m glad you’re here with us as you walk through this transition and I know the Lord has something awesome in store for you. Public speaking is tough but a great skill to have and I believe something we can all learn and improve at. Glad your feeling lighter today and looking forward to hearing where the Lord leads you next.
Great read! I tried Toastmasters a few years ago. It’s not the best learning space for me however God prepared in other settings I’m a more impromptu, speak from the heart person vs. prepared speeches. But I do think it’s a great platform. Thanks for sharing your story. Also, how do I access the workbook you mentioned?
I truly enjoyed this blog post! I myself visited Toastmasters a few years ago. Although I really wanted to join, my schedule didn’t allow for it but it was definitely a great experience. The Lord called me to speak publicly in many other areas after that including church. I asked Him to use me more and my Pastor (out of the blue for me but obviously Spirit led) asked me to read the weekly prayer theme. I was nervous and my heart still skipped a beat even a year later. When the pandemic hit, I also began doing the welcome along with the prayer theme for virtual services. It was such a blessing! As a former HR Specialist, I was always comfortable in a training environment. However, the Lord was preparing me to be confident in publicly speaking for Him. Today, I’m still learning and it is a wonderful calling to have. We as Christians are all in preparation to speak boldly, proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you for your insight!
So wonderful to read your comment, thank you! Isn’t it amazing how often things feel surprising to us but that the Lord is never surprised by them? I agree, we’re all in preparation for sharing the gospel always. Thanks for being obedient – I know the Lord will continue to use you in big ways!
Thank you Becca! This was so interesting to me as I work for an organization currently that HOSTS a lunchtime Toastmasters Club! No, I’m not part of it because my role is temporary, a Contract Recruiter, so I will be leaving the company this month. However, if I am offered longer term employment in this company in the future, I will strongly consider it and joining Toastmasters. What a great career move you made. You are an inspiration and I appreciate you sharing your story.
Hi Lin – That’s amazing! I was always jealous of the lunch time meetings, as I had to commute a decent distance very early to fit mine in. Totally understaand the temporary work situation but I would highly recommend it if your time allows in the future!