Finding Your Voice - the Truth of Authentic Words

We’ve all had the experience no doubt, of losing our voice at a critical moment. Not because of a sore throat, but when we have been tongue-tied, lost for words, paralysed by nerves or just gone momentarily blank.

Peter Baker | 23:08, Wednesday, 23 February 2011

A conversation, a job interview, a telephone call, can all come horribly unstuck by this circumlocutionary collapse. 

Such an experience is a nightmare for a public speaker. Amazingly, Churchill battled with the problem and had to rehearse all his major speeches.  More famously, so did King George V1.  Those of you who have seen the uplifting film, The King's Speech, will have been deeply moved by the humanity of the movie at precisely this point. Here was a man who couldn’t find his voice because of a very serious speech impediment. 

It may surprise some to know that the difficult journey of overcoming a stammer is one I had to make as a small boy between the ages of 3 and 8. Educational psychologists, speech therapists and elocution lessons played Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) to my Bertie (Colin Firth). And as in the film, so in my life, I endured some strange methods, such as banging my head against a table, chair or door to try to pick up a sense of rhythm and cadence with which to complete a word or sentence. It took me five years of that before I found my voice.   

All communicators are looking to discover the authentic voice of their soul; that is, the groove in which the personality and the task fit together naturally and comfortably so that there is effectiveness in what they say and how they say it. 

I've been reading a book, Well Driven Nails, subtitled, "The power of finding your own voice" written with Christian preachers in mind. It uses three of the great bible teachers of the US, John Macarthur, John Piper and RC Sproul, as examples of model preaching. 

Clarity, simplicity and passion are deemed to be the keys to unlock good Christian communication. The authentic preacher is liberated from the fear of people's judgement because the one judgement that matters belongs to God. He is the decisive audience of one, before whom the preacher lives and speaks. 

I think the book's hidden message is that authentic words flow from an authentic life. Too many of us preachers can have a schizoid personality. We put on a pulpit persona, we become professional, we use language that is not natural to us the rest of the time. 

Of course there are necessary technical elements to public speaking that will always matter. But beyond those, the task of the Christian preacher is uniquely to communicate with transparency, sincerity and humility the journey he is on, which at every stage needs to point away from himself to Christ.  We need to allow the message of the cross to shape the messenger of the cross, as I was saying from 1 Corinthians 2 last Sunday. 

"My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but the power of God." (1 Corinthians 2:5)

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