Posted on

 Chris Hatfield astronaut.jpg    They “Get It!”


“No astronaut launches with their fingers crossed. 

That’s not how we deal with risk.” 

— Astronaut Chris Hadfield


Likewise, you do not walk into a speaking situation with your fingers crossed.  The risk is not only your leadership and influence, but the risk is that the audience will have spent an hour of their time and attention, but no closer to understanding God and His ways.

As a public speaker — as a “serial speakers” talking to a “serial audience” — we above many others should feel the weight of speaking, speaking effectively, and speaking effectively consistently.

As Peggy Noonan stated,

As more and more businesses become involved in the new media technologies, as we become a nation of fewer widgets and more Web sites, a new premium has been put on the oldest form of communication:  the ability to stand and say what you think in front of others . . . .In one way this is nothing new.  the first word of the first caveman may have been hello, but it was probably followed by standing-up: “So I’m sitting by the fire and this antelope comes over the hill —” . . . . But now the audience is bigger, the event is being broadcast, and a certain eas is expected. — “On Speaking Well”


Did you catch her words?  They reflect the situation which also marks preaching!

the audience is bigger

being broadcast

ease is expected

This is no time for “finger crossing!”  “We live and dwell, and have our being” in the 21st century.  This is a time for those who want to work at the craft of the sermon!

Noonan goes on to say,

When I told a friend that I was writing this book, she said, “How can you teach someone to write a speech when its such an intuitive sort of thing?

Like Noon says, “It is!” — The longer I taught speech at Grace College, Bowling Green State University, Ohio University, Tennessee Temple University, and Keiser University (over the past three years) I realized that “you either had it or did not have it when it came to public speaking.  I do not mean that in an absolute sense!  As Noonan says,

It is.  But my thinking is, there are things in every art or craft that can be pointed out and emphasized, pitfalls that can be highlighted and avoided.  If I were a piano teacher I would tell my pupil, “I can’t make you Toscanini, only you and God can make you Toscanini.  But I can tell you things I’ve learned, and you may benefit from my experience.”

Indeed — “It is!”

After teaching homiletics at Tennessee Temple Bible College, and Pulpit Speech at Baptist Bible College – Clarks Summit . . . .

After speaking and preaching for decades, multiple times a week . . . .

After years of writing Adult Bible materials for Union Gospel Press, publishing magazine articles on Pulpit Speech, and after writing over 225 articles on this WordPress site this past year . . . .

. . . . I agree that there is an “intuitive” ability (or as we would say, a God-given ability) to effectively communicate.

If God has called one to the pulpit ministry (not to ministry, but to the pulpit ministry) the Lord has gifted to that end.  The Lord has created, as well as gifted those who are called to preach.  He calls, and He equips.  If a person is not “apt to teach,” he is not called to a pulpit ministry.

That does not mean that one cannot and does not improve over time.  However, there is a discernable homiletical seed which shows itself if a pastor has God’s gift of “apt to teach.”

I know several things about homiletics or pulpit speech for certain!

If you don’t seek to improve, either you don’t understand how important effective communication is, or you are not called to the ministry.

If you don’t work at being better at communication, either you don’t understand how important effective communication is, or you are not called to the ministry.

If you think your responsibility is only yo speak the truth, but not to effectively press the truth upon the human heart and mind, either you don’t understand how important effective communication is, or you are not called to the ministry.

If you step up before an audience, privileged by their desire to hear what you have to say, with your fingers crossed, either you don’t understand how important effective communication is, or you are not called to the ministry.


Today, the audience is bigger!  Your messages are probably being broadcast, and “ease” is rightfully expected by your 21st-century audience!



If you step up to speak and have crossed your fingers,

then you have less passion for your calling than a secular astronaut!


The rocket equation it’s a beautiful thing!
No astronaut launches for space with their fingers crossed.  That’s not how we deal with risk.
What I learned from 21 years as an astronaut is that the more you know the less you fear.
The reason I wanted to do this masterclass is to share the hidden depths of purpose that are behind space exploration.
When the clock hits zero — start focusing and thinking of nothing else but the moment that you’re in.
Study every system on a spaceship and then boil it down to what I call a one-pager.
You’ve got to be able to solve your problems in one breath!
You have to push your lungs forward through the drag of the atmosphere — crushed into your chair you’re like a leaf in a hurricane.
The reason is [ 1/2 Rho V squared s ]
 — 16 times the speed of sound as you accelerate harder and harder that light blue Florida sky starts to get darker and darker and then suddenly black and the engines shut off and you’re weightless.
Turn the handle and open the hatch — you pull yourself out into the universe and now suddenly when you move your knees — you can feel the searing heat on one side and the incredibly cold emptiness of space on the other.
When you’re no longer Earthlings — how do you navigate — you can use the Stars
You can actually see how that place where you were raised — fits into the overall complexity and reality of the solar system.
You start to unavoidably wonder –Are we alone in the universe? or not?
Our technology has just good enough now that some of you taking this master class are going to fly in space.
Reusable rocket ships give us access to explore like we’ve never had before.
We’ll be a great moment of introspection for humanity if you’re the person who finds that one little fossilized flower on Mars
— I’m Chris Hadfield and this is my master class


One Reply to “What Can A Master Class Astronaut Teach Us About Public Speaking? . . .”

Leave a Reply