Posted By Matthew on March 20, 2014
Some weeks ago, I saw a minister asking how to gain more speaking engagements. Someone made a comment about some of the speaking engagements that he did recently, and the reality of the income that was produced. The minister was thinking that more speaking engages will lead to a little extra income. And everyone likes a little extra income. There are some ministers out there that have never been invited to speak on a University lectureship. Maybe they have spoken at a few local congregation, but this is once or twice a year. In preaching, I think preachers become a little jealous of the guys speaking at a ton of events. It seems glorious and means you are important. There is a little ego involved in the process, even though preachers are not to have an ego, but we all do. I want to give a little insight, maybe a little behind the curtain look at speaking engagements. I have been on both sides, and I want to share some thoughts on this whole speaking engagements.
1. I never spoke anywhere for years. I had maybe on summer series appointment a year. And I wished that people would call me more. I had the preacher envy problem. It had nothing to do with income, I just wanted to feel important. But the reality was, I was important to my family and my congregation. There is nothing better than having some university or church call you to speak. It is amazing how much this feeds the ego of preachers. But here is the problem, you most important work is to your family and your congregation. You might not get all of the same level of praise, but you are doing a good work of loving those people. On the average Sunday a few people will tell you that you did a great job, at another place, you are the superstar. You got your five best stories there, and at the local church, they heard them all, five to ten times already.
2. Last Year Was Crazy. I think I spoke at over 15 different appointments, from youth rallies, men’s retreats, prison conferences, scholar conferences, Gospel Meetings, training times, university lectureships, senior camps. I was gone on average 1 week each month speaking. I was a busy boy, as I finished my dissertation during this time too. I felt important speaking all those places. It was intoxicating to the ego. I was gone one time for two weeks straight. Here is the reality, the work suffered in Castle Rock. Yes, it was not overly noticeable. But when I was home, it was full tilt activity. It had to be to catch up on that which I missed. My elders are amazing and allow me to be gone a lot. But they even asked me to be here on Sunday’s more. My kids got sick of it too. It was the first time in my life that I was doing national speaking, and it was like an addiction. At one point, I was on a plane 6 times in two weeks.
3. What I Learned. The money is not worth it. It is nice to have some extra cash flow. But if you look at the exchange, it is not worth it. A lot of the trips were freebies, I did it for the opportunity, and the ministry. Sometimes, and there are some churches that treat you GREAT. And there are some organizations that ask you to do it for free. Typically, only churches pay for you to come. Conferences will maybe put you up and pay for the travel, but not always. Churches typically do, but for churches to know you, you need to speak at the Universities. But also, think about it money wise. If you go some place to do a weekend trip, you might be paid between 500 to 1000. You are there for three days, so mostly, you are making about 200 a day. Is this really worth being away from you family and church? Sometimes you are paid nothing for being away. If you are speaking for money, stop, trust it is bad stewardship.
4. The Rules. Know why you are going. If a church has been good to you, stay loyal to them. There are some churches that have been excellent to me, and if they ask, I say yes. Also, organizations, schools that I have attended, always get priority, one place asked me how much it would take, I said if you pay for my expenses, that would be great, but if not, I still will be there. I owe much to your school. Always do those who have loved you right. There is an elder in a church I speak at often, he is a great man, and if he asks, I go. Be good to those who are good to you. Last year I spoke at the prison conference, why, because this is a good work, and I want to use my time and talent supporting good work. I see speaking as a ministry, and if I can give back, I want to. Loyalty is huge to me.
5. Balance. It is good to speak at other places. Yes, every preacher needs that feeling of being important. Sometimes you do not get that home. Also, you get to experience the church in a wider spectrum. It opens your eyes to what is happening in the church. But remember, your only special role in life is to be a parent or husband. They can get another speaker, but your family cannot get another man to be Dad.
Hope these thoughts help. And maybe I should not have written this, but I want to think out loud on the topic. And yes, maybe help some people too.