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About 20 years ago, when I was in ministerial school, I was invited to teach a workshop at a church a few hours from where I lived in Los Angeles. At the time I was very involved in leading nonviolent teachings in Los Angeles.
For years, I was so blessed to be able to study with Rev. James Lawson, a Methodist minister who had been a mentor to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others who were leading the nonviolent demonstrations during the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. I learned so much from Rev. Lawson. It was one of the great blessings of my life.
Between 1998 and somewhere around 2003, I taught workshops on the personal practice of non-violence in the Los Angeles area. I had no idea what I was doing. Truly, I had no training, I was just making it up as I went along.
I learned A LOT through trial and error and it’s been such a blessing to me to share what I learned about leading workshops.
I remember one particular workshop I taught at a small church on a Sunday afternoon. As it was several hours drive to get there, I had to leave my home quite early to get to the church by 9am. I wasn’t going to be speaking, but I had to be there for the service, stay for through brunch at the church and then lead the workshop after that.
I hadn’t been asked to speak, so I didn’t get a chance to promote the workshop and have people get to know me through giving the sermon. My topic was a powerful one, but it wasn’t “sexy.”
Although my personal practice of non-violence completely changed my life forever, people weren’t that interested when they didn’t know me or know much about the topic.
By the time my workshop started, I had one participant.
Plus the minister, who sat at the back of the room. She didn’t want to participate, but she was curious about what I had to say.It’s not really a workshop when it’s for one person.
The less people there are, the harder it is to do a workshop – meaning, the more effort it requires from the leader. I had to be the teacher and the fellow participant. There was no way to do a breakout and have them share with someone other than the leader because it was just the two of us. The minister wasn’t budging from her seat at the back of the room.
The person in the workshop was an older gentleman who had been in the military and who was interested in my topic of nonviolence because he’d experienced intense violence in wartime.
We had several hours together and it was well spent. I felt like we’d made a difference to each other.
When we were done, and the gentleman had left, the minister came over to me and had a question. She asked me why, when the man had shared a particular thing with me, why didn’t I say more in response to him. She felt he’d made some rather strong statements (I don’t remember what they were now) and she would have gotten into it with him. She would have tried to change his mind.
I said, “I didn’t say anything because I had some judgments about what he shared. If I said anything he’d know I was judging him and he wouldn’t have heard anything else I had to say, and that would have been a loss for both of us.”
The minister knew immediately I was right. He would have shut down. I was tempted to say something to him, just as she’d been, but I’d learned this much as a teacher: start judging the participants and you’ll lose the whole room.
It was in that moment that I knew why I was really there. To share something meaningful with the minister. And, perhaps, with you.
I needed to get going as, by then, I’d been in that building a long time on a summer day, and I still had hours to drive back home.
BTW, the workshop was on a donation basis. The man gave me $20 and that about covered my gas. Still, it was a day very well spent. I didn’t go there to make money. I went to share my passion for living a nonviolent life.
Sometimes new workshop leaders will complain to me that they only had 6 or 8 people turn up for their event. I can tell them about the day I drove 6 hours, sat through a rather uninteresting church service, plus a luncheon to do a workshop for 1 person – and it was one of my better days of my life.
We think we know what things are for, but we often don’t.
We think we know why we’re led to go some place, but we often don’t.
I am content to go where Spirit leads me to go, knowing I get to be of service, and that brings me Joy. I am here only to be truly helpful, so it works for me.
I’d like to support more people in following their passion for sharing and teaching what they’ve learned. That’s MY passion. That’s why I’ve asked my dear friend, Rev. Karen Russo, author, speaker, teacher, minister, if she’d teach a class in how to lead and create a workshop so more people will feel confident and qualified to share their passion.
If you’re interested in learning how to feel great leading a workshop, on any topic at all, click here to learn more now.
I’ve learned to follow my intuition. The experience I had that day, with that minister and that war veteran, both of them much older than me, taught me that if Spirit sends me, Spirit will work through me. All I really need to do is show up with humility and a YES for God. Spirit will do the rest.
Spirit cannot fail, and when I let Spirit lead, then my personality can be of service in a truly beautiful way. Life is profoundly beautiful when we stop analyzing the details and go with the flow of Love!
Blessings are always available when we’re willing to receive.