“Ms. Crystal? Will you write a blog post about us?”
I smiled and said I would.
I’d spent the day guest teaching in my sister’s 6th-grade writing classes and knew before they’d asked that I would, indeed, share about the experience. The looks on their faces as they walked in the room and did double takes, realizing for the first time that their guest speaker and “professional blogger” was actually their teacher’s twin sister? Priceless. The way that asked thoughtful questions, listened attentively, brainstormed creatively, and spontaneously applauded when I shared about my book? Inspiring. The way they asked me to autograph their calendars and said they would buy all my books? I mean. A writer’s dream, right?
We’ll deal with the fact that they aren’t really my target audience later.
I loved sharing with them that I was their age when a teacher told me I was a good writer. I was their age when the seed was planted that I had a gift that could be shared. I was their age when my own journey to become a blogger and a writer started – because a teacher believed in me.
As fun as it was to be with them all day (and to talk about narwhal socks McDonalds, and candy), I was surprised by the blessing of being one step ahead. Although I shared practical tips about blogging and doing a month-long challenge with them, they helped me see that it doesn’t take a special title, a certain number of projects, or a level of expertise to invest in someone’s life. Being with them gave me the confidence to keep moving forward on my own projects – and not once did I worry about what I was wearing, who was in the room listening, or if I would be asked back again next year.
To make a difference, sometimes all you need is to be a little bit further down the road than someone else – and a willingness to share.
I’d often discounted my own ability to teach or mentor because I didn’t think I was enough. I didn’t have tens of thousands of followers or subscribers, so what could I share with someone about social media? I’d only self-published a book, so why would anyone care to hear me speak about writing? I didn’t think I was far enough along in my own journey or important enough to bother someone else for their time, even though I could defintely use the help. I never called myself a writer or an expert, always making sure to tell people that it was “just” something fun I liked to do, or a gift that came naturally.
It doesn’t take a fancy stage or thousands of people. In fact, it shouldn’t. You can use your gifts, your knowledge, and your experience to serve the people God has put right in front of you. Invest in them. Be generous with your words and believe that you have been given the opportunity to be just a few steps ahead for a reason. And believe that you are also worth investing in as you seek someone who can guide you through the next part of your own journey.
I went into that classroom expecting to encourage some writers, and instead they gave me the blessing of seeing who I had become.
- Who was the first person who told you that you had a gift with words?
- Who can you invest in – the ones who won’t be at fancy conferences or know impressive people, but the ones who need to hear YOUR story?