“So what are the topics you’ll speak on at Youth Ablaze this year?” asked my friend Paul.
My mind froze.
Paul asked, “Are you still there?”
What he didn’t know is that I’ve been thinking about what I am going to talk about for a couple of months.
I decided to focus on “The Five Gates to a New Business.” I wrote six blogs on this topic. I know the subject and have plenty of stories to tell. When this topic popped into my head, I said to myself, “Done. I got this.”
Now the clock was ticking.
I had a few random thoughts on the conference. Occasionally, I would open up Evernote and jot ideas down so I wouldn’t forget them. June passed with a few notes. I had a few more notes in July. Then August rolled around, and even more ideas were captured in Evernote.
I decided to set a few days aside to prepare the talks, but not until two weeks before the conference. I know I do best and am most creative when the deadline is right on top of me.
And I was right!
I set aside Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday of last week to prepare. Tuesday became consumed with cleaning up some calls and unfinished business. Wednesday turned into a couple of unexpected meetings and a little prep. On Friday, I wrote out an entirely new set of messages, then squeezed in some personal stuff and helped a ministry with their strategy. By Friday night, I was panicked. I said to myself, “I’m now one week away from the conference, and I’ve got nothing.”
That is when the bad self-talk started.
- “You shouldn’t be going anyway.”
- “You don’t have anything to say to these people that they can relate to.”
- “Your experiences aren’t relevant.”
This talk hammered me into the ground. With each negative, each shouldn’t, each can’t, each isn’t, the hammer drove me deeper and deeper into anxiety and despair. I became less and less capable of thinking of the audience and how I might help them. I locked up and couldn’t think of a single experience in my life which they might find useful. I started believing there was nothing I could say which would improve their lives in any way.
Hello, Satan. Goodbye, Jesus.
I am a Christian. I know Satan is real. I know there is a winner-take-all battle being waged over me. As the Bible says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Yep. That’s what I was experiencing. So I asked, “Would God tell me to go and speak at Youth Ablaze Uganda and then have me fail?” Of course not. It was Satan. It was the evil spirits that were creeping in. These thoughts were not from God. He loves me and speaks words of love and encouragement.
I confessed to Kathy.
I left my office and went to the bedroom to tell Kathy, “I’m just not getting anywhere.”
She said, “Let’s pray.” By the time she said this, I was already halfway out the door.
I heard it but pretended I didn’t. I just went back to my office and picked up the Bible and began reading. I read a paragraph, then reread, then read out loud, then stopped. It meant nothing to me. It said nothing. My mind was scrambled.
Kathy walked in.
She looked at me blankly. I looked right back at her. I said, “You’re right. Let’s pray.”
She sat down in my office and said, “I’ll pray first.”
She knows me. I was so jacked up, I couldn’t put two words together. She prayed for a long time.
I was starting to feel freer, like I was less in someone else’s grip. I began to breathe. I listened to her words. Some words of praise, some confession, some describing our situation, some asking for protection from evil. I distinctly remember her praying, “Please keep Satan far away from Charlie.”
When she finished praying, I jumped in. I remember how difficult it was to talk to God. But little by little, he freed me up. I never did get to a free-flowing, Spirit-led prayer, but I did continue to pray, haltingly. We ended, and she left.
I still couldn’t concentrate because I was so jumpy and anxious.
I went for a long walk and started listening to a podcast interview with a little known businessman. He is a billionaire, but he does not do interviews.
After the interviewer asked him a question, the businessman began from the beginning and told his story.
As his story unfolded, more and more lessons poured out of him. Lessons I had learned in the past, and lessons I still have to learn. I was walking, stopping from time to time to take notes, then continuing my walking and listening.
Halfway through the walk, I realized I knew exactly what I needed to talk about. I simply needed to tell my story. My story is everyone’s story who has some level of success: family, education, first job, apprenticeship, reading, marrying, leading, failing, kids, succeeding, emptiness, salvation, starting anew, going on, wanting to stop, continuing, learning, living.
It is a great story, and it is my story.
That’s what I am going to talk about. How I ultimately became a Kingdom Minded Entrepreneur from childhood to now.
Hey, Paul, I’m going to talk about my life and the lessons learned along the way. Hopefully, I’ll be an encouragement and good example for these kids.
I’ve got something to say! Prayer answered. Thank you, Jesus!