A couple of months ago, my good friend John Tiller invited me to 'An Evening with Mark Batterson'. I know Mark a little - he planted and pastors a large, innovative, multisite church in Washington DC (National Community Church) and he has spoken at PCC before. Two of Mark's books - The Circle Maker and Wild Goose Chase - have been pivotal for our church.
But honestly, I didn't really expect to learn anything at this event. Mark would be talking about some of the concepts from The Circle Maker, which I've read twice and relied on heavily during a series we did on prayer. I knew it would be fun, but I didn't have high expectations on learning.
Why is it that I can so easily forget: I am always learning. I can learn in every setting, in every situation, at any moment. In fact, it seems to be a rule of life (for me) that whenever I set the bar low, God shows up and shows off. (That phrase came from Batterson, by the way)
Specifically, I was reminded that I need to spend time every single week watching and listening to great communicators, because I want to be a great communicator too. Think about how a football team watches film every week. They watch film of their own games, but they also watch film of other teams in other situations. Granted, they're doing this to win - as in a competition - but shouldn't we want to win, too?
Whatever your skill or talent or gift is (and everyone has a gift that God has given them), isn't winning - at its core - becoming the absolute best you can be at that one thing that God made you to do? When I watch other communicators, hear how they handle questions, analyze how they measure pauses, consider the way they utilize silence, space, humor, unexpected technical challenges, gestures, notes, eye contact and material content, it's like a football team watching film. I make notes (mental and on paper) about the things they do which I can apply. Occasionally, it's something I note: "Don't ever do this!" More often, it's something that I can use that will improve and hone my skill.
So, this is a renewed part of what I'm going to do now, as I build into my schedule between 30 and 60 minutes each week to watch a great communicator and learn from them!