My tutelage under Communicator Academy began in 2007, when I first heard Kathi speak at a moms’ group. After a decade of consuming Kathi Lipp books, conferences, blog posts, podcasts, and Facebook exchanges, I was honored when she invited me to serve as a 2017 ministry intern. Here are 14 values I gained that undergird my writing and speaking today:
- Serve your audience. Show up to serve. Take care of your audience. Make your efforts about them, their hurts and needs. God will take care of us, providing for our needs and purposes. (I never planned to write or speak, but had been serving in the local church for years. Meanwhile, God was purposing 25 years as a volunteer to train, mold and prepare me for my calling.) Even when we may not be clear on our calling as communicators, be faithful to what –and who– God places in front of you in the meantime. He will connect the dots for us, in hindsight.
- Start with WHY… and who. Why do you write or speak? Have a specific problem and people in mind (an avatar.) What problem are you trying to fix? What is your holy discontent? Who are you showing up for? Let your heart be broken for the things that break God’s heart.
- Be generous. Give, serve and care for no other reason than because that is God’s style. Jesus’ followers should be known for their generosity and compassion, just as He was.
- Make this your job. What separates the amateurs from the pros? What coach Cheri Gregory refers to as “B.I.C.” (think: button + chair). If we do not prioritize and schedule time to work on our craft, no one else will. We must treat this as a job, and dedicate the time.
- Practice. Whether it’s blogging, vlogging, pitching or posting, talking to the bathroom mirror or a room of three people, practice –and failing– is the only way we get better. There is no shortcut.
- Don’t create and edit at the same time. Creating content and editing is like driving with the brakes on. You can only do one or the other. Ignore the hater in your head and write like no one will read it. By the way, you will always think you suck. If you feel chronically inadequate and wracked by Imposter Syndrome, you’re probably doing it right.
- Be you. Don’t compare yourself with others (where they are in their ministries), or try to imitate anyone else’s voice. The Communicator Academy mantra, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” ― Catherine of Siena
- Learn. Work on your craft. Diligently attend writers/speakers conferences, read books, blogs, and listen to podcasts. There is nothing too small to learn, and no one you can’t glean something from. When we are Humble, Hungry and Smart, we can learn from everyone and anyone, whether they are ahead of us, peers/cohorts, or following after.
- Find mentors. A mentor doesn’t have to be single person to meet with for weekly coffee. (Even the Avengers had to “Assemble!”) Assemble a team of real person(s) for coaching, to follow online, books/blogs to read, and e-courses to take. The internet makes it easy to gain a variety of mentorships.
- Be a mentor. Always give back. There is always someone who can benefit from blessings and experiences God has already given you. This is discipleship: How God will grow you, and others at the same time.
- Befriend other writers/speakers, and colleagues in your ministry area. Connect with your tribe/people at conferences. This is long and laborious work. You will need peers, cohorts and fellow cheerleaders (hype-men and women) who get what you do (are trying to do!), and know how to celebrate each milestone, for the long haul.
- Don’t be a (desperate) jerk. Work hard and hustle in a God-honoring way. Trust Him with your calling. It may look different or take longer than we’d like. But if God has a designated assignment for each of us, then we will not be able to evade it (hello, Jonah!) God’s will, purposes and plans for our lives will happen, regardless how we cooperate — or not. Faithfulness is in our hands. Fruitfulness is in His.
- Strive to maintain healthy boundaries between ministry/work and personal/family. Don’t make your ministry/career your idol. It’s surprisingly easy to! In the words of Andy Stanley, “Cheat the church,” rather than our families and spiritual lives.
- It’s about the journey, not the destination. I used to think God was using me to write books. Then I realized I had the script flipped. God doesn’t use me to get books done. He uses books to get me done. Our journey as communicators will be the tool He uses for our discipleship and process of sanctification. The mission field is not just “out there.” The hardest mission field is in our own hearts.
The Author and Perfector of our faith already has each of our stories (and blog posts, books, and talks…) written out. Every day we show up to serve — generously, faithfully, knowing Who we serve and why– is another page turned.
Diane is a former intern and ardent fan of all things Communicator Academy. Her first book, Unbroken Faith: Spiritual Recovery for the Special Needs Parent (Worthy, 2018) releases in April. She blogs on being wrecked, redeemed and repurposed at http://www.dianedokkokim.com/unbroken-faith/