Teaching Points from the Educator Award
June 22, 2023
by Andrè Van Mol, MD
At the 2023 CMDA National Convention my wife Evelyn and I were honored, blessed and quite humbled to receive the 2023 Educator of the Year Award. This all happened under the watchful eye of Princeton’s Professor Robert George, whom I have admired for years (and no, I did not go full fan boy and embarrass CMDA, but we did talk privately a while). I was given a few minutes to share some thoughts which I am now offering you, my colleagues.
- I am indebted to: my incredibly supportive wife Evelyn; my children, who often get a yes or no vote on my speaking invitations, since it is time taken from them; my church senior pastors, and it is sadly rare that I meet a teammate in the good fight who enjoys the public support from their home church or synagogue leadership that I do; the teammates I work with, who are relatively few but extraordinary in capability, faith and humility (humility is the way forward, as the Lord is opposed to the proud, according to 1 Peter 5:5); and, notably, the CMDA senior leadership. Their favor and encouragement make it work.
- Things really launched for me after being invited to CMDA media training in 2008 at the insistence of pastor and master life coach Ken Jones. Since that training, all the writing, speaking, media interviews, legislative advising, legislative testifying and high court opportunities have come to me—I have solicited pretty much none. Quite a season shift the Lord handed me there.
- “Benchmarks in the Battle” was a 2018 blog I wrote for CMDA regarding lessons learned that got me through my first year of legislative activism in my home state of California.
- Rest in the Lord and let your adversaries exhaust themselves. Understand that such rest is a frame of mind and spirit rather than lassitude. A big part of that is learning to stay calm when an adversary doesn’t wish you to be. If a problem or threat is not in your way—not clear and present—then being decoyed by it takes you out of your way in order to make it a problem. Go with Nehemiah’s take, “I am doing a great work…Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3b, NKJV).
- Co-labor with Christ. The New Testament invites us to do so about a dozen times. And what a labor partner God is!
- Just get the message out. It usually boils down to this, so just do it.
- My view of the goal of Christian public communication is conviction (by which I mean truth) delivered with compassion, civility and courage. I call these the four Cs.
- A few more guiding principles per one of my senior pastors, Kris Vallotton.
- The world already has a Savior, and He isn’t me. This is enormously reassuring. It really takes the pressure off just by knowing who I am not.
- There is always time and grace for what the Lord wants you to do.
- Be present for your family. Not just there but engaged with them.
- We must be able to say “no” to many good things to have time and energy to say “yes” to the God things.
- How do we recognize the God things? Per my senior pastor, Bill Johnson, both God things and good things take time and effort and are tiring, but the God things leave you feeling alive while good things leave you drained.
- From Alliance Defending Freedom, follow these recommendations.
- Know your key points. Stay on message. Delivering your message is your duty, not theirs. Better not to be quoted at all than to be quoted off message.
- Never repeat a charge against you! This takes practice and focus. When facing an accusation, the reflex is to start a reply with “No, I am not a (fill in the blank)” or “No, we do not (fill in the blank).” People, be they a jury or a media audience, fail to recall the accusation or question, but they lock right on to the reply, so don’t ever repeat the accusation. Instead, respond with your key points shaped accordingly. Everything then becomes another vehicle for presenting the message.
- Opposition, rejection and betrayal are not failure, but they are often useful confirmation. You get flak when you are flying over the target.
- Rejection is a steppingstone for spiritual advancement.
- I blogged on this for CMDA in “Disappointment, Rejection and Betrayal, and Reasonable Expectations.”
- I actually don’t like conflict, generally try to avoid it and know well what fear and intimidation feel like. Here are some powerful encouragements.
- Walking forward despite our fears is called courage.
- “Those who want to win the world for Christ must have the courage to come into conflict with it,” said Titus Brandsma, who was martyred at Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany in 1942.
- “A scared world needs a fearless church,” said AW Tozer.
- “The church needs a baptism in courage,” said Bill Johnson.
May these pointers aid and motivate you as they have me.
For more information about getting involved in CMDA’s legislative and advocacy work, contact CMDA’s Advocacy Team.