Martin Dol heads the Royal Mission School, he teaches a lot and guides young people in their formation process. He preaches weekly in various churches, denominations and organizations. Together with Paulien Vervoorn he teaches the module ‘Speak with passion!’ at Royal Mission Part-time School. How did he use to speak in the past and what does he do differently now? Get inspired! 1. How did you feel about giving a speech in class as a child? The speech I still remember well is the one I gave in high school for the Dutch subject. I had decided to give my talk about the platypus. It turned into a drama… I had prepared everything neatly, with an explanation about the platypus written out on paper. As a showpiece for my speech, I had made color copies of the animal in the library. I had prepared everything down to the last detail. The problem was that I was extremely nervous. For a week in advance I couldn’t sleep at night and was often found in the smallest room. When the time came for me to actually give my speech, I shuffled forward with my papers under my arm and the weight in my shoes. I remembered that I would show the beautiful color copy of the platypus to the class during my intro. I tried to hold up the photo in question, but I was shaking so much that to this day my classmates still don’t know what the platypus looks like. After two minutes I was able to sit down again, because I had a total blackout. So no success.2. When did you first speak about Biblical topics? At a fairly young age I was asked to give Bible studies for adults in my own church. Miraculously, that went well for me, despite my less good experiences in high school. The leaders of my church gave me opportunities and encouraged me to further develop my skills in this area. I am still grateful that they were willing to take the risk to let a young boy speak and practice. My first real sermon lasted over an hour. I wanted to share everything I had discovered. It is incomprehensible that no one lovingly intervened by taking me off that stage.3. What do you approach differently now than in the beginning? As I think many speakers do or have done, I wrote out my sermons completely. I never dared to go without it because I was afraid of having a blackout. As a result, I preferred to stay near the pulpit during the sermon. Until the moment I was allowed to speak in a fairly large congregation and I accidentally left my sermon at home. A slight panic took hold of me, but I had no choice but to go on stage without paper. I liked it so much afterwards that from then on I only brought my Bible with me to a speech. I once received a tip to turn my sermon into a comic strip. This turned my story into a series of pictures. I have taught myself to tell what I see instead of reproducing sentences that I have formulated.4. How do you continue to find inspiration for your sermons? For me this works in different ways. I can be touched by a Bible passage. By making a sermon about it I help myself to let that part land in my heart. It may also be that I am touched by something in meetings and conversations with people. That ‘being touched’ can be an irritation or emotion or amazement. I think that something should be said about this from the Bible.5. What do you notice of the Holy Spirit in preparing and while speaking? It is the Holy Spirit that touches me while reading the Bible and meeting people. I now prepare my sermon more loosely, so that while delivering the sermon there is room to shift emphasis or sometimes say completely different things. There have been times when I heard myself speaking in words that I would not easily choose. It may also be that I explain situations in my sermon that occur in a congregation that I was not aware of in advance. I think that was the Holy Spirit.6.How do you experience your own sermons in preparation? The experience mainly takes place in my head. A Biblical principle can really haunt my mind for weeks. Furthermore, I also want to learn to apply the principle that I have formulated to feel where the problem lies. I almost always have a moment of frustration while preparing a sermon. I think that’s what Luther means by tentatio (struggle). The frustration lies in the fact that at that moment I am not convinced that I can get my listeners on board with my sermon structure. There has to be a EUREKA moment and the road to get there is sometimes quite tough.7. Which sermon will always stay with you? Why? That must be the ‘sermon’ that made me believe. It was actually a simple explanation of the gospel using an old flannel board with pictures that were used in Sunday school. Nothing about the speech was sparkling, everything was old and dusty. Even though I was 16 years old, all the words went straight to my heart. It was like hearing the gospel for the first time (while going to church every Sunday). It must have been a combination of the working of the Holy Spirit and the passion of the lady who was telling the story.8. When do you suffer from stage fright? I can say that I no longer have stage fright and that is a great blessing.9. What is the most embarrassing thing you have experienced as a speaker? I have once had a drunk student in my audience. He had accidentally ended up in the meeting after going out. He regularly interrupted me during the sermon, loudly asking incoherent questions. After a while, the sexton lovingly but urgently escorted him to the consistory to sleep off his intoxication. It was perhaps especially embarrassing for him when he woke up.10. Which speaker from the Bible inspires you? I find the prophet Jonah very fascinating as a person. Jonah is given 40 days to preach a serious message in a city three days’ journey away. He spends exactly one day and then sits and waits until the residents of the city do exactly the opposite of what he has proclaimed. It inspires me that God is able to achieve optimal results through a speaker’s jerk, because the entire city comes to conversion. There is hope for me…11. What appeals to you about Jesus’ speeches? Jesus is never guided by fear of people in his speeches. He is able to lovingly fillet by telling the truth with razor sharpness. I think people who were spoken to were sometimes embarrassed.12. What would you do if Jesus were in the audience the next time? The desirable answer would be that it wouldn’t change anything for me and that I would preach my sermon as I normally do. The truth is that I would be very surprised that He would be interested in my sermon and that I would not dare to look Him in the eye during my sermon. I suddenly get stage fright.