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How My Mom Made Me A Preacher


When I was a kid, I used to travel with my mom to Toastmasters conferences. I went to Baton Rouge, Lafeyette, Atlanta, DC, Florida, down the street from the house, up the street from her job, everywhere. I heard some of the world's greatest speakers. I sat in many executive meetings (because my mom didn't wanna leave me in hotel rooms by myself...she watches too much Law and Order) and I behaved quietly, pretending to doodle but really eavesdropping on conversations regarding new judging procedures and managing  leadership conflict (yes, grown people cat-fightπŸ™€). I was present for speaking competitions that my mother judged, training seminars that my mother presented, and galas that I attended with my mother as her young, but show-stealingly adorable, date.πŸ‘§πŸ½

And of course, my mother took Toastmasters home with her. Whenever I had to speak in church or prepare a speech for class, she mentored me. She made sure I had a bomb πŸ’£acronym (she's obsessed with corny acronyms) and my talking points outlined on note cards so that I could look up when I was speaking to facilitate greater connections with the audience. She made sure I pronounced every ending--"It's walkING, not walkIN!"--that I articulated every word, and that I spoke "proper" English so that even the uppity white folk at my elite private school would respect my thoughts and value my rhetorical contributions.

She scolded me when I talked too fast in the car on the way home from school as I recounted the happenings of my day. She corrected me when I used ebonics in her presence. But mostly, she made sure I was confident. Everything wasn't about respectability. My mother wanted me to be comfortable sharing my ideas with the world. She was not only empowering me to be a dynamic speaker; she was encouraging me to step into myself fully--Mia, the leader. Mia, the teacher. Mia, the scholar. And now, Mia, the preacher.

I grew up in a very progressive Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana. Our pastor believed in women leading, women teaching, and women preaching. I've previously shared on here about how Rev. Audrey, Rev. Madonna, Rev. Trina, and my cousins, Pastors Danielle and Rachel, influenced me and affirmed my decision to go into ministry [Read More]; but it was my mother--the Sunday school teacher, the professional public speaker, the Lt. Governor of a region in Toastmasters International--who made me a preacher.

From the first time I led the welcome at church when I was about 6 years old to my last speech in high school at the athletic awards ceremony, my mom was there offering insight and making sure I had my three points outlined (and an acronymπŸ™„) so that folk could remember what I talked about when I was done. She was critical, but caring--annoying, yet affirming (sorry ma!🀣).

It wasn't until recently that I began to appreciate all the weekend trips to Toastmasters conferences--that I began to reflect on all the times I heard my mother give the same "Believe in Yourself" presentation (accompanied by the song of the same name from "The Wiz"), offered to city government employees.

I am my mother's child--unafriad to speak, unafraid to lead, continuing the legacy, one sermon at a time.

Fast forward to today and I see parents going to extremes to entertain their kids in church. I see y'all with your iPads/gadgets that are meant to keep your kids occupied. I'm not judging (yes I am). I mean, I'm not a parent, so I don't understand the complexities of what is expected of children in church these days, but when I was growing up, the threat of getting my derriere beat was enough for me to behave AND pay attention in church. And I wasn't just afraid of getting chastised by my momma. There was a village of people ready and willing to snatch me up and get me together. Of course, I was a perfect angel, so that wasn't necessary. 😎 My mom used to not only make me sit still in church, she wanted a full sermon report after service. Wasn't no iPads or smartphones then. After service, I had to tell her what the scripture was, what the title was, and three pieces I pulled from the sermon. Y'all know she loved a 3-point sermon...still does 🀣.

As annoyed as I was back then, I thank God for her push. While I credit my ability to discern and act on my  call fully to the pastors at my home church in Harlem, I credit the success of my preaching to my mother. Although she didn't push me into ministry or even understand my decision to pursue this call, she made me a preacher, and I'm grateful for that premature guidance that manifested in my life right on time.

I don't follow the 3-point sermon module like she would like me to...I've evolved. My sermonizing is constantly evolving, so maybe one day, I'll give her a Toastmasters-approved sermon. 🀷🏾‍♀️But until then, I honor her in every sermon I write, every speech I give, in every poem I perform. I am her child--her protige...her legacy...her preaching daughter.

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