As a mom of two young and energetic boys more than two decades ago, I distinctly recall standing at the kitchen counter thinking to myself: If I do nothing else I want to be sure they know what they believe and how to talk about it. That thought motivated almost everything that happens throughout the ICC organization today.
After searching in vain for curriculum to train wiggly boys to articulate their ideas well, on and off the platform, I wrote my own. I sensed the need for like-minded community. I invited Christian families to join my children in our communication education adventure. Convinced communication must be relevant to real people, I asked my students to speak on community platforms. I was passionate about helping each student to genuinely care for those coming behind, and to model the way with excellence.
I wanted my own children – and all my students – to see themselves as ambassadors for Jesus. They did not always share my passion. I know what it’s like to launch with zeal and be set sideways by our children. One son told me he didn’t need help practicing speeches and then melted down in class – literally crying uncontrollably in front of the whole group. My other son told all the kids in one beginning class that “having to do public speaking is child abuse and you should tell your parents so we can all stop.” At the time it was torture!
The parents began with eager anticipation. They wanted their children to communicate with excellence; but as their children’s enthusiasm waned, parents questioned the need. “Maybe my daughter just isn’t a speaker.” “My son isn’t cut out to be a leader.” I remember questioning right alongside them.
Public speaking is an important, but often scary, stepping stone toward getting the next generation ready for influence. In those early days I recognized the importance of creating safe environments for trying scary things. I can’t even count how many crying kids (and their crying parents) tried one more time because we made it safe for them. YOU are hosting a safe community.
I imagine at some point you may face some of the same discouragements. Your chapter parents believed in ICC’s mission and vision for their kids’ future. Keep that vision in front of them at every meeting – even when they and their children become discouraged. You are getting them ready for influence. That takes time and perseverance.
I still shiver with delight as I remember watching a 10-year old girl – who cried during every practice – give an impassioned speech to her entire school assembly. I get goose bumps recalling a middle school boy who “didn’t need this speech stuff” gently sharing helpful tips with the new kids. It really is worth it!
As of this writing ICC is represented in the majority of states in the U.S. and in nine countries. Students and their parents and teachers are learning we each have the power to influence culture – not someday, but today. And they are doing just that!