Over the years I have had the privilege of speaking in a variety of settings from commencement addresses to keynotes at business conferences. Last week I was asked if I would be willing to say a blessing at a corporate dinner. As with any opportunity to speak, I viewed the invitation itself as a great honour. However, I had never done something like this before in front of a large audience. Saying grace at the family table is quite different from saying a blessing at a corporate event.
There is very little time to speak and so the words need to be carefully chosen. There are a variety of backgrounds and so it is important to be sensitive to the needs of a largely secular audience. And the blessing must combine gratitude with inspiration, courtesy with conviction, and faith with integrity. Without causing offense to the hundreds of people in attendance.
To be candid, I worried about this particular task, far more than I would ever worry about other forms of public speaking.
After many hours of worry, I finally broke down and wrote the blessing. It was well received and I, in turn, received a blessing when I returned to my dinner table, happy that the moment was over. Here is the text of the blessing:
Let us give thanks
For our families, our friends and our homes.
For our country, our community and our company.
For the hope and joy that is part of this festive season.
For the goals and challenges that lay ahead.
And for the many blessings we receive each day.
We are thankful for this and so much more.
We are thankful for the meal we are about to share.
Well done, Richard
Richard, your blessing was perfect. We didn’t mean to cause you worry – our committee thought you would do a good job, and you certainly delivered! Thank you very much.
Thanks! Although seasoned in public speaking — I do not have any particular fear in that regard — I did have a bit of a chuckle over my emotional response to this opportunity. And it was an honour to be asked. Much appreciated.