This past weekend, I was invited by the pastor of a church to come speak at all masses about youth and young adult ministry in the Diocese of San Jose. It was a great opportunity to let people know about the great work my team and I were doing.
I spent time preparing my short reflection for a week, taking into account the gospel passage of the day. After some time preparing, I thought it was good.
I was given my first chance to speak at their Saturday evening Mass. I opened with a powerful story about the changed life of one young woman I had a chance to minister to this past summer. Once I completed the story, I shared more tidbits of information about our ministry.
At the end of Mass, I stood outside the doors of the church to greet people and answer any questions they may have had. Most people walked by and said, “Thank you for sharing. Great talk!”
Right towards the ends, as I was about to turn toward my car, an older man came up to me.
He said, “Can I give you some feedback?” I didn’t have time to respond before he laid into me with, what I perceived as a little disrespect. “You know, your talk was nearly 10 minutes long. After hearing a homily from the priest, hearing you speak that long annoyed me. You don’t need to tell stories. Stories are for kids. Next time, just get to the facts. 10 lines. No more.”
I politely said thank you and he walked away.
Inside, I was crushed! My confidence was shattered.
The entire drive home, I was analyzing my talk in my head. Was it really too long? Did I not get to my point fast enough? Was it effective?
And then, in my car alone with my thoughts, I decided to think of some not-so-nice responses I COULD have said to this man.
The next morning, I headed to the church again to give the same talk. I made some minor edits, but I stuck with my strategy.
But, I had to admit, I was still having doubts and started to do some re-writing in my head. That’s when it happened.
A women who had heard me speak the night before came up to me. She said, “John, the story you told last night was powerful! Thank you for sharing and thank you for the great work you do!”
That’s what I needed! Through this woman, God gave me the burst of confidence I needed to keep the talk the same and share the great story.
After I gave the talk at 3 more Masses (the talk got better each time), I again waited outside the doors of the church to greet people. Many people walked by to thank me for the story and the work I do. Quite a few even stopped to chat with me a little more about the ministry.
Other than that one negative comment from the first Mass, every comment was affirming.
I discovered that, just as you are in the throws of something great, something or someone comes along that causes you to doubt and brings down your spirit. However, if I had given up and decided to not show up at the next Mass, God would not have been able to do a good work in me and give me the confidence I needed to persevere.
When that one negative comment gets you down and all you can do is focus on it, keep persevering. God won’t let you down.
Question: When have you doubted yourself and when did God lift your spirits back up?