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.