Imperfect Speaker

Wow. That’s a story I don’t think I’d tell on myself, I thought after reading a confessional passage from Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Am I Messing Up My Kids? The thought popped into my mind unbidden, but once it was there I had to take time to examine it.

Lysa, president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, is one of the people I think most highly of in the world. Just like her other readers and the women who sit in her audiences, I treasure her vulnerability. I also get up-close access to the power of authenticity in her ministry, so why had I instantly reacted by thinking I would cover up that part of my story? Obviously, over-sharing isn’t Lysa’s issue. Not wanting to share my flaws is mine.

 Over the years, I’ve come to deeply believe this truth—life’s greatest lessons come from our failures, not our successes. I haven’t always lived this way, though. For decades, I worked hard to present a perfect façade to the world, even in my speaking.

But now I know that approach is wrong. In our lives and on stage, people need our vulnerability, not our perfection. For our sake and theirs, let’s find an authentic way to communicate. Our audiences need imperfect speakers more than ever.

Because she’s scared to come out from behind the mask

 From the cover of magazines to the images flashing on our screens to the expectations in the workplace, our culture has made a flawless image the highest goal. However, God crafted us to reflect His image, not to create our own.

As speakers, when we take off our masks, telling stories of our own messy lives and flaws, it gives our audience permission to emerge from behind their own facades.

Standing on the stage as the fullest person we’ve been created to be, warts and all, we bring God great glory, modeling what it looks like to lean on Him in our weakness.

 Because she’s tired

Comparison is rampant in our culture, but for perfectionists it’s the way to prove our worth and value, driving us to pure exhaustion. God, however, has put His stamp of approval on rest. In Isaiah 30:15, He says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it” (NIV).

Let’s face it. It’s draining for our audience and for us as speakers to try to be someone we’re not. Instead of “doing” Jon Acuff or Beth Moore or Tony Robbins, you do you! Even if “you” isn’t as eloquent, polished, or inspirational as your favorite speaker, we serve our audiences best by being our most genuine, which encourages them to live in the rest of their own authenticity.

Because she’s lonely

 In a recent study, researchers found that 1 in 4 Americans say they don’t have a single friend. Did you catch that? One in four. If we as speakers counted down a row of 16 in our audience, there would be four listeners that feel completely and utterly alone. Heart-breaking.

We can be a solution to the loneliness epidemic when we’re willing to share our own “me too moments,” joining with our audience in their fears, anxieties, and doubts. Lowering our invincible exterior means that dozens of people in our audiences feel less alone and isolated.

Because Jesus is actually the hero

When we maximize our own perfection, we minimize the need for a Savior. We, along with our audiences, are desperately in need of a spiritual rescue, so it magnifies God to be open about our need. The more transparent we are about our sin and flaws, the more opportunity we have to point to Jesus as the ultimate remedy.

I have to confess. For me, every day is a struggle to lay aside appearances and image. Everything in me still screams to try to look like I have it all together as a speaker, but I’m choosing to break up with perfect in order to embrace the powerful joy of reaching my audiences.

Giveaway: Every comment today enters you to win a copy of Amy’s book Breaking Up with Perfect. We’d love to hear your story of how authenticity has changed your speaking, or if you’re living life in hyper-speed today, simply say, “I’m breaking up with perfect.”

Amy Carroll

Amy Carroll is a speaker and writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries. She’s the author of Breaking Up with Perfect as well as the director and coach of Next Step Coaching Services.  As a woman who loves a great story and a challenging idea, co-hosting the Grit ‘n’ Grace podcast has become one of her favorite things.

Amy and her husband live in lovely Holly Springs, NC.  You can find her on any given day texting her two sons at college, typing at her computer, or trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner.  Share life with Amy at and find out more about her speaker coaching services at