By George R. Pasley
May 29, 2008
One preacher immediately grabbed my attention. His name is Otis Moss Jr. and he is the father of Otis Moss III, the current pastor at Trinity United church of Christ in Chicago, the home church of Barak Obama.
Pastor Otis began to speak and I heard a clear, melodious voice that was deep, down in the range of baritone, and I thought, "Oh, I wish my voice were like his!"
Pastor Otis is African-American, and he spoke in a poetic cadence, without using notes, and he raised his fist up and down about half-way as if he were marking the time of his delivery. He captured my attention, held it for the duration of his sermon, and sent me away determined to live differently and hopefully!
But later that week I heard something different. It was a videotaped interview with Dr. Fred Craddock, an elderly preacher who is considered by many American preachers to be an icon and national treasure.
I've had the great fortune to hear Fred Craddock preach in person, so I knew I would be in for a treat. Even so, I learned a lesson.
In the interview Dr. Craddock said that when he was growing up all the preachers had deep strong voices, were able to yell, and were quite lively in the pulpit. But Dr. Craddock confessed that he had none of those gifts, so he struggled when he started to preach because, as he puts it, "My voice sounds like the wind blowing through a splinter on a fence post."
But Dr. Craddock went on to say that one day he realized that people were hearing his message because he had found his own authentic voice, so he stuck with it, even though it sounded so odd.
The interviewer asked him how he found his voice, and Dr. Craddock said, "It was in the doing. I just tried different things until I found it."
Toastmasters International is an organization for aspiring public speakers that espouses the philosophy of Fred Craddock- "It is in the doing." Each week participating members are given opportunity to find their authentic voice by speaking in the presence of a friendly audience, receiving helpful criticism, and then making ready to do it again next week.
If your goal is for people to hear what you have to say when you speak, give Toastmasters a try. We meet Thursdays at noon at the Presbyterian Church, 2711 Second Avenue.
On the Web:
Presbyterian Church located in Ketchikan, Alaska.
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