Last week I had the rare opportunity to speak my mind to the the nation’s faith-based, conservative political leadership from the mainstage at the Values Voter Summit.
VVS is quite the experience. More than one-thousand attendees gathering together to advocate for biblical values in the political arena, rallying under the battle cry of “Faith, Family & Freedom”.
Among the attendees are powerhouse influencers including congressmen and women, high profile media personalities, business leaders and political activists, think tanks, rich folk and PACs. And right alongside these are an even more powerful band of everyday guys and gals who make up the grassroots network of passionate voters dedicated to upholding the righteousness of God in our great nation.
And the speakers are not exactly slouches, either. Among speakers on the day I had my time in the limelight were Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Dr. Ben Carson, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Oliver North, FOX News’ Todd Starnes, Governor Matt Bevin, Representative Mark Meadows, Dr. Sebastian Gorka, David and Jason Benham, Gary Bauer and others.
Let’s just say I was glad that I got to speak first thing in the morning before any of these other guys.
So, when you have twenty minutes to say whatever you want to a room full of people like this, not to mention millions of viewers watching live at home, what do you say?
That’s a good question.
In fact, it is such a good question that I spent months trying to find the right answer. Do I talk about politics? Of course I talk about Jesus, but how much? Who are these people, really, and what are they expecting? Does it even matter what they are expecting or who they are? And of course I talk about biblically responsible investing, but from what angle?
As I ruminated, one question rose above all the rest: What does God want me to say to these people? “Must I not take care to speak what the Lord puts in my mouth?” (Numbers 23:12).
While I prayed and sought the Lord’s direction and wisdom, He put three things squarely on my heart:
And with that, I began to find the words.
Having stayed up far too late the night before putting finishing touches on my speech, the time came for me to head backstage and prepare to take the mic.
Because VP Mike Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo were speaking later that day, Secret Service had the entire venue on lock down. It was actually pretty cool. I felt like I was in one of those movies you see about Presidents or whatever, except that it was real.
I even got my own Secret Service detail. How cool is that?
So, my personal Secret Service bodyguard with the tattoo shaped like a rock-n-roll finger “sign of the horns” on the back of his neck and I, met up and he escorted me past the burly looking dudes guarding the big doors heading into the behind the scenes tunnels.
We wound around corners, through concrete walled passages with lots of exposed pipes in the low ceilings, past stoic Secret Service personnel stationed every 50 feet or so. I got stopped halfway through because I had not been given a “G-pin”, which is apparently how Secret Service identifies those people who are supposed to be in the restricted area from those who are not.
We waited together in the passageway while the two agents spoke in cryptic whispers into the hidden microphones in their jacket collars until another agent came through the doors with my magic G-pin.
They instructed me to attach this little piece of metal on my lapel and cautioned me to “make sure that it doesn’t fall off”. Which was a little nerve-wrecking as the pin was rather flimsy and didn’t really have the most secure fastening mechanism.
I envisioned myself flailing my arms passionately in my speech (which I tend to do), the G-pin falling unnoticed to the ground, me returning back to the concrete maze of passageways and being tackled by a rush of Secret Service agents and dragged into custody like some unruly passenger on a United Airlines flight.
Thankfully, my G-pin remained intact and so did my face and FBI profile.
Finally it was time to take the stage.
Yes, I was nervous, but not as nervous as I might have been.
Whenever I get the opportunity to speak about God’s glory, my nerves are more of excitement than of fear. That is the one topic that I have such a confidence in, that I know everyone must hear, that is worthy of all my energy and enthusiasm, that fear is replaced with anticipation something like what I expect it feels like preparing for a battle you know you will win.
My name was called, I walked to the stage and stood behind the official Presidential podium (pretty nice podium), gazed into the audience and began to speak.
That’s pretty much all I can remember, other than the glare of the lights that fogged out my glasses the entire time. I remember people clapping and engaging with the powerful stories of the impact that biblically responsible investing is having on corporations big and small.
And I remember the cheers when I announced the new inspireinsight.com web app that we are releasing to give investors unparalleled transparency into the moral issues that exist in their investment portfolios and help them to find God-glorifying alternatives that support biblical values.
My first real memory is being backstage again, finding my way (G-pin attached) through the ant-trail of Secret Service agents and back out into the normal world.
I will confess that I still haven’t watched the recording of my speech. Maybe I’ll do that tonight. But regardless, my hope is that what comes across is that “whatever you do…do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). I hope that people are not impressed with anything about me, but rather they are amazed at the “hand of my God that was upon me for good” (Nehemiah 2:18).
And I pray that whenever you have a stage to speak on, whether large or small, global, national, local or even across a coffee table, that you use it to proclaim the glory of God to the utmost. I pray that you would declare His Gospel. I pray that you humble yourself and exalt Him as the source of all your accomplishments.
Oh, that the world would “see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Shine with me, together for God’s glory throughout the world!