5 Reasons Why You Cannot Miss This Year’s Speak Up Conference

I’ve never looked at a $100 bill the same since. 

The speaker stepped onto the platform to give us a teaser as to why we should attend his workshop the next morning. He pulled a crisp one hundred–dollar bill out of his coat pocket. “Tomorrow morning,” he boldly announced, “I will give this away to someone in the audience of my workshop! Is there anyone out there tonight who would like to walk away with this bill in their hand?” 

The crowd of cash starved college students cheered loudly. He then took the brand–new bill and crumpled it up in his fists. He threw it on the ground and stomped all over it with his shiny black shoes. We all sat in dismay over his actions. He bent over, picked it back up, smoothed it out across his pant leg and held it up for us to see, small tears surrounding the edges and creases and black smudges contaminated the bill. 

“Still want it?” he asked. Most still clapped and cheered and one young man called out, “It’s still $100!” He then took the bill and tore it down the middle and again into fourths. A few audible gasps could be heard throughout the packed auditorium. 

“And now?” as he pulled out a roll of scotch tape, “Still want it?”

How about you? Would you still take it? If your answer is, “It’s still a $100 bill,” then you belong at this year’s Speak Up Conference. Here are five reasons why.

  1. You recognize true value.  Whether the bill is crisp and perfect or dirty and crumpled, you still see its value. You resolutely affirm that most things in life come crumpled, crushed or dirty, but that doesn’t make them less worthy or important.
  1. You can identify with that bill. You have either been squashed by circumstances, splattered by life, or torn apart in pieces by someone or something. But your worth has not diminished one cent. 
  1. You need somebody to hold the tape. Maybe you question if your own shattered circumstances can actually help somebody piece their own life back together. You are looking for a tribe of tape holders who can encourage you that those rips and tears hold purpose. Maybe find some others who have been stomped on with similar footprints to develop your stories together.
  1. You want to hold the tape for someone else. You’re held together with shiny strips of grace and you know the power of it. Those parts of your life covered by tape are stronger than the remaining paper exposed bill. You want to help others smooth out their wrinkles, organize their scattered pieces, and find strength and faith to believe in their worth.
  1. You recognize your greatest value comes from being spent on something meaningful. You have one life to give away. What holds more significance than helping others recognize their value and spend their life wisely?

At my first Speak Up Conference I felt like an oxidized penny. Lacking brilliance, worth little, and often overlooked in a room of shiny coins. Through faithful encouragement from the faculty, empowering instruction in the workshops, and focusing on Christ’s great love for me through worship and prayer, I found my worth at Speak Up and understood the value of my story. Don’t come shiny and perfect. Those stories are rarely worth telling and even less relatable. 

Bring your story, no matter how tattered or splattered it may look. It’s too valuable not to tell. And the Speak Up Family provides the perfect opportunity to learn to tell it well. 

Which of the five reasons above can you relate to most?

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  1. E. Jean Curry (newbie) on 2021-04-13 at 6:00 PM

    Hi Erica, Congrats on your writing achievements. May your faith continue to inspire!

  2. Carol Kent on 2021-02-11 at 8:55 AM

    Erica, this was such a FUN blog to read! I’m rejoicing over all that God is doing in your life and ministry. Thank you for your enthusiastic support of the Speak Up Conference. We love having you on our faculty!

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