“I will be one of the people in your life who will continually remind you of how much God has invested in you,” said my friend and mentor Pastor Elijah Sebuchu. Pastor Elijah is the founder of Hands of Love USA and the Youth Ablaze leadership conference in Uganda.
When he said this, it hit me hard. I then took my pen, opened my notebook, and wrote down exactly what he said to me.
And now I’m telling you.
The first time he introduced me to the audience at the Youth Ablaze conference in 2013, he used a variant on this theme. It wasn’t as direct as what he told me over that lunch in August 2019.
Here’s what he said:
“Professor Charlie Paparelli was prepared by God all his life to be our speaker. Over his 60-plus years, he has multiple degrees from the University of Life. These degrees include employee, husband, father, grandfather, entrepreneur, investor, friend, family member, church member, community leader, teacher, student, mentor, mentee, and many, many more. He is here to share with us what he learned so we might become Kingdom Minded Entrepreneurs and leaders of our African nations.”Pastor Elijah
I was stunned by his introduction.
It really made me think of all the experiences I’ve had in life. Like everyone else, there were the good, the bad, and the ugly. But all these experiences are useful to other people.
He told them not only that I had something to say, but that I had a lot of life experiences to share with them.
These are men and women between the ages of 15 and 35. They are from Uganda and six other African nations. Most of them grew up in multi-generational poverty. They have, at best, a high school education. All of them came to Youth Ablaze for hope, inspiration, and a path to a better life.
Before this introduction, I was asking myself, “What do I have to tell these people that will make a difference in their lives? Who am I to speak to these people? I come from a privileged life as a man born into a middle-class American family, educated, and now wealthy. My life is something they will never relate to.”
But Elijah’s introduction was inspired by God. It spoke to me in a way different than other introductions I had received prior to one of my talks.
The traditional speaker’s introduction is all about the speaker’s accomplishments. It sets the speaker’s credibility with the audience because of what he has done.
Elijah’s introduction spoke to my credibility based on what I had experienced.
I am not a credible speaker, writer, and coach because of my life experiences. I am a credible speaker, writer, and coach because of the investment God has made in my life. I’m not sharing my life when I communicate. I am sharing what God has done in my life.