In The King’s Speech, King George VI struggles, stutters, and stammers his way through speaking of any kind. With the help of a speech coach, Lionel Logue, the king slowly begins to find confidence in his ability to speak without a stammer. In one of the most powerful scenes of the movie, as the king is becoming increasingly irritated in an exchange between the two men, Logue says matter-of-factly, “Why should anyone listen to you?” And the king responds defiantly, “Because I have a voice!”
Much of my story thus far has been about learning to find my unique voice, and then, trust the voice I find. While taking a preaching class during my last semester of seminary, I developed a familiar cadence in my voice. After finishing a sermon preached for my class, my professor said, “You sound like Barack Obama.” I looked at him with a half-grin, ready to say “thank you,” when I realized there was more to what he was saying. Then he said slowly, as if to let each word linger in the air, “I wonder what Allison’s voice sounds like.” His simple comment ushered me into a new understanding of what it means to speak with my voice, to know my voice, and to use my voice.
Similar to the seminary class experience, I recently had opportunity to explore again the call of God on my life and the voice unique to who I am becoming. In January I participated in the Second Annual National Festival of Young Preachers hosted by the Academy of Preachers. In Louisville, Kentucky, 126 young preachers (ranging in age from 14 to 29) gathered for a festival of encouragement, inspiration, affirmation, and ecumenism. The festival was opportunity to speak with my own unique voice and also to hear the many tones, sounds, and volumes of the work and word of God among us as young people called to gospel preaching. From the festival and from my peers, I gained further confidence in the timbre of my own voice and affirmation of the call of God on my life as a young Baptist woman called to preach. It was truly a celebration of voice and calling!
At the festival, we were all different—with different backgrounds, in different places in life, from different parts of the country, growing in different callings, using different voices, but we all had a voice. We were all united in the call to gospel preaching and all united by a God whose diversity was alive among us during the festival.
Wherever we find ourselves today, may we all be open to the ways in which God speaks in and through us as we lend the timbre of our voice to the proclamation of God’s good news.
Allison M. Hicks is associate pastor at First Baptist Church, Middlesboro, Kentucky, and a reserve chaplain in the United States Air Force.