The Suddenness of Preparation

You’re exactly right. A misnomer. The state of being prepared never comes quickly. Sometimes it never comes at all.

I recall when I was put on a hot spot. A prominent position, for which I was totally unprepared. Mrs. Topinka, the five-foot tall advisor to our 4-H club, bustled over with these shocking words: “Sammy, today we need you to be our candidate for president of the county 4-H club.” The rest of her words floated in and out of a black haze that enveloped me. “… Cletus … still sick … was going to be our candidate … mother called so … need you … need you …”

How could I do that? I had absolutely no idea how to president anything.

Despite that reality, I was elected and stuttered through an acceptance speech before a thousand (well, maybe fifty) other adolescents. Sure that they recognized my incompetence, I was shocked at the applause when I finished. In the ensuing year, I chaired various meetings and served as MC of the annual awards banquet. I still stuttered, but Mrs. Topinka encouraged me all the way.


Andrei Rublev's Trinity, representing the Fath...

Andrei Rublev’s Trinity, representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in a similar manner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A similar situation involved a man who was tapped for leadership in his nation. Big project. He would have to be the point man for negotiations, logistics, communications, planning, coordination, and major re-locations—only slightly more complicated than my role as president of the county 4-H club.

He’d been advised years before that he was the top choice, in fact, the only choice to lead the project. Impressed that others had noticed his abilities, he took action. Things didn’t go well, and the project was put on hold.

Several years later, he was contacted again about the same project. This time, he quickly backed away from the opportunity. “Why me? I’m a nobody.” A totally different view of himself. Again, I could relate.

Undeterred, the spokesman for the selection committee of three responded, “No matter. We will handle every problem, but we need you as the point man.”

The fellow tossed out more excuses why he couldn’t take on the responsibility—he had a major stuttering problem (I could identify); he wouldn’t be able to answer the hard questions that would surely come. Finally, he blurted out his real reason: “I don’t want to do it. Please, get someone else.”

That didn’t set well with the selection committee and they handled him similar to how Mrs. Topinka handled me: “You will do it.”


I am proud to say that in both situations, things turned out in dramatic fashion—both were successes. Thanks to Mrs. Topinka, I realized I could organize my thoughts and speak before small and large groups of people. My preparation was actually in doing it.

The other fellow? A man named Moses. Despite his objections and lack of experience, his big project turned out quite well. The selection committee—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—was really the power behind the project. When Moses stopped looking at himself and his limitations, the power of God was unleashed. Things started happening, things which people still talk about.

The Scutum Fidei, a diagram frequently used by...

The Scutum Fidei, a diagram frequently used by Christian apologists to explain the Trinity. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Has God been speaking to you? Maybe for you to come alongside and tell someone about God’s work in your life, to speak truth in a difficult situation, to declare what you really believe … He simply asks for your availability. He’ll provide the power.




About samuelehall

A follower of Jesus, husband, father of 3 adult children, writer and learner.
This entry was posted in Changing the Rules, Risking change/changing the risk, Tackling Fears, The Reality of God and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Suddenness of Preparation

  1. A great parallel connecting Biblical history with personal narrative. Loved it!

  2. Rodney A says:

    Mrs. Topinka was one of those educators that now 30+ years later I still think of her often because of what she taught me. She hammered “root words” into us until we were exhausted but I still reference her teachings today. I think you are being kind to establish her as 5 foot but what she lacked in height she made up for in stamina.

  3. Julia Sumrall says:

    Oh, how I can see Mrs. Topinka marching up to you and ‘encouraging’ you to accept the position. What a lady!! Five foot of power! She knew you were capable!! She was right. Cletus had other duties I’m sure.

  4. A great illustration that helps us understand how the Word applies to current day challenges. Yay!

  5. Glen K. says:

    Mrs. Topinka loved kids, believed in them, and dedicated herself to them tirelessly.
    There are SO many positive stories about that lady. How do I know? i worked with her in your old school numbers of years and saw first hand how much she cared…

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