Raise Your Voice: Why We Stay Silent & How to Speak Up

My Dear Readers,

This is Book Launch Month.

My dear friend Amena Brown suggested I take some photos of my book in my “real life” setting. This is the kids’ bathroom.

I am feeling all sorts of things – excitement, gratitude, pride, gut-wrenching nausea, fear of failure, fear of success, anxiety, and peace. The book officially launches July 31 so that will be a day where I am nervously tethered to social media and trying to enjoy the moment. I haven’t decided what I will do or with whom I will spend the day with. I just know I will need Jesus, yoga, coffee, and eventually some celebratory spirits.

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to include an excerpt for you. Hopefully you have already pre-ordered the book with plans to write a review on Amazon and Goodreads and to share the bejesus out of it (only if you like the book) with friends IRL and on social media with the hashtag #RaiseYourVoice and tag me so I can like it and say a prayer of thanksgiving. If you haven’t pre-ordered it, consider ordering it from an independent bookseller like Hearts and Mind Books because as much as I love free shipping I also miss having a local bookstore. You can also order from the big A or from my publisher IVP.

Struggling With Credibility

I’m a Korean American married mother of three with no advanced degree living in the suburbs in the middle of a midlife crisis, wondering how or if my twenty years of vocational ministry can transfer into a different vocation. I write infrequently. I speak even more infrequently. I have been told that I’m a prophetic voice, but I cringe at that description because biblical prophets are lonely and cranky, and I want to be perceived as fun and warm. Oh, and did I mention that I’m a woman of color in ministry?

Almost ten years ago, I supervised a ministry staff team that worked with four distinct student populations with a reach of about three hundred active students. I learned that a group of local Asian American pastors were meeting periodically to talk about ministry and leadership and pray for one another—but I never received an invitation to those meetings.

A few years later, I hired a graduating student leader, a young Korean American man, to join my staff. He fairly quickly received an invitation to attend the pastors’ gathering. Holding back tears, I told him that I had never been invited to attend those meetings. Still, with a mix of frustration based on my experience and hope for what he might experience, I told him that I wanted him to go, learn, and speak into that group.

It took him a moment to realize what the significance of the invitation was for him and what the lack of an invitation meant for me. Ten years of ministry wasn’t enough credibility to overcome the fact that I am a woman.

Moses struggled with credibility as well. It’s almost comical to read God’s assurances in Exodus 4 when you realize that Moses is just as insecure as the rest of us. God goes to great lengths to build up Moses: he gives superpowers to Moses’ staff, he shows Moses a cool cloak trick involving leprosy, and teaches Moses how to turn water from the Nile into blood. Yet Moses says, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10). And if that wasn’t enough, Moses then says, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else” (Exodus 4:13). This is when I want to laugh at Moses. Who does he think he is?

Oh, wait. Kathy, meet Moses.

Before taking the ministry staff job, I was struggling with what I still struggle with—managing work and family. I was a mom to one preschooler and two grade school children. My internal script screamed, Who do you think you are trying to lead and grow ministry and develop a staff team while raising three children and being a good wife? I have kids who get sick and want me at their Valentine’s Day parties. Please send someone else. I suppose if I had kept that thought to myself, it might have been a little different, but instead of talking to God or a burning bush or my backyard fire pit, I shared this internal script with my staff team. I tried to paint a picture of how and where I thought ministry could grow on campus while also externally processing my personal insecurities. I would remind the team, “I am just part-time, so I can’t fulfill all of my job responsibilities; also, I have to leave to pick up my sick kid, so I’ve asked my predecessor to lead the rest of the meeting.” Yes, I actually said those things out loud, which doesn’t set up expectations well for anyone. My years managing the team weren’t my best as a leader, but I learned a lot about imposter syndrome. It can kick your ego and paralyze you.

God knows that Moses has impostor syndrome but essentially gives him no room to back out. God enlists the help of Moses’ brother Aaron as a wingman, reminds Moses that his shepherd’s staff has superpowers, and pushes Moses out of the wilderness. The rest of Exodus reminds us that just like Moses, whether or not we carry a shepherd’s staff, we don’t know the power of using our voices until we try it.

Taken from Raise Your Voice  by Kathy Khang.

Copyright © 2018 by Kathy Khang. Published by InterVarsity Press,

Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com