Somewhere in the mid-seventies, Bill and I attended our first staff conference. It was a big deal. We lived in Illinois, the conference at Glen Eyrie. I assume we drove (I can’t imagine having money for plane tickets back then). I was young and a new mom.
I remember where she and I were standing in the Castle. I remember the conversation as if it were yesterday.
Me: “I feel so young.”
Her: (Older woman married to Navigator Leader): “Well, get over it; you’re not.”
I was indeed one of the youngest there—well not counting Bill. I’m 9 months older than he. But really I was thinking of spiritual maturity.
But indeed that short conversation has ministered deeply to me since. I’m reminded, Sue, don’t negate the feelings of another. They are true for her even if they aren’t truly true; and they need to be heard.
Perhaps you are coming to this conference feeling really young too. You aren’t alone.
Then there was the conference where I gave up; I quit. I.just.didn’t.care. Sharla’s gift to me that evening as I sobbed out my sad story, was to sit quietly and listen. (I imagine she was praying too.)
Or maybe you are feeling too tired like I did, ready to give up for whatever your personal reasons.
Kathy had no idea how a piece of her story connected deeply with me as we walked together to dinner later that week.
I remember Beth’s simple, but profoundly caring, uniquely tailored for me question at yet another conference.
With one exception, I don’t remember any message from a staff conference (not even the one my husband gave).
Without digging through my files, I cannot tell you the content of any workshop.
But I DO remember personal conversations. Times when my realities were met with the listening ear of another. The encounters were not orchestrated; they didn’t last long; but they had eternal significance for me. The Kingdom of God advanced a bit because of the care of another.
I know you will have Divine Appointments too – even with littles in tow.
I’m not preparing a message or a workshop for the conference, but I’m preparing my heart to connect with others by:
1. Reviewing the first several pages of my leather journal. They are filled with the scriptures God has voiced to me about His love for me and His place for me in the kingdom. I need to review them regularly as my forgetter is in top-notch shape; I need this underpinning. Philippians 3:1, Romans 15:15—it’s encouraging to know I’m not alone. The gospel frees me of my opinion of myself!
2. Asking God for places to sit and meet up with a friend. Often we see someone and we say, let’s get together sometime and catch up. Are you available __________? This fall I’m planning on saying, I’d love to hear about ___________. Can we sit here for a few and catch up? The sitting part is important. I want to communicate that she has my 100% attention.
3. Allowing God to choose my connections. In a crowd of 500 or so women, I don’t know who needs a listening ear, or to hear a piece of my story. Nor do I know whose story will deeply bless me.
What about you? How do you perceive staff conferences? And how do you prepare? I’d love to pray for you.
“I’m beginning to see how the secret ways and deepest mysteries of God and his kingdom are often revealed off the beaten path of organized religion and frequently missed by the too-smart. Sometimes it’s not the professor or preacher leading you to divine truth but the commonplace people God sticks right in front of your face.” Jim Palmer, Divine Nobodies
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ …” II Corinthians 2:14, 15a
Writing this creates an excitement in me wondering what God-ordained appointments to give or receive care await me in Florida in a few days. I’m praying that in my Divine appointments, and yours, we will all enjoy the aroma of Christ in one another.
Bill and Sue have been hanging around the Navs since college days. Perhaps that is why we love ministry to that generation so much! We have been married for 42 years and on staff for 42 years. I love penning my weekly blog, Echoes of Grace, and facilitating Sabbath-Living retreats, both designed to help women grow in their friendship with God. We have 2 married sons and 5 GRANDS and 1 faithful Golden Retriever, Lexie.