If I had to pick one favorite breakout session it would definitely be this one lead by Danielle Bell. Let’s be honest, ministry is HARD. We are constantly pouring into other people and seldom have people pouring into us. We are constantly there for other people. Listening to their stories and their pain. Being their shoulder to cry on. Basically doing what God called us to do. BUT, in the midst of all that there is often no one that is doing the same for us. Ministry is one of those situations where you can be completely surrounded by people and still fell all alone. The purpose of this session was to help those that are currently BROKEN, BURNED-OUT or BORED to overcome it and move forward and to help those who are not there yet keep from getting to that point.
Before I share my notes from the session I wanted to share some other related thoughts.
There should have been more people. I walked into the session early. Danielle and I had connected on Twitter, both being in Alabama. We had tried to catch up with earlier, but had not been able to. So, I arrived early to have the chance to introduce myself and connect. We chatted and as it came time for the session to start I sat down in the front row. The session began and the impact on me, personally, was amazing from the very beginning. However, it was not until about half way through the session that I had opportunity to look around the room and realize that most of the seats were empty. I have been in ministry for around 7 years. I know and have spent time with many ministry leaders. I know that this is something that nearly every one of us faces. At the very least it is an ever-present threat to all of us. Yet I look around and find most of the room empty.
Why weren’t there more people?
- Guilt. I remember the first time I went to a conference for the hospital I worked for. The hospital had spent quite a bit of money to get me into the conference, to fly me out to Scottsdale, AZ and put my up in the fancy resort that was hosting the conference. Because of this I felt the need to be in every possible session. I felt guilty at the very thought of skipping a session. This carried over as God moved me into ministry and I started attending kidmin conferences. I get it. Your church is paying FOR you to be there and maybe even paying YOU to be there. So you want to get the most out of it. But, you must also remember that you are of greatest value to your church when you are healthy. This may mean skipping a session to rest.
- Dedication. When I started going to conferences for the hospital I was managing the computer system in the emergency department. I was still quite new to that position and to that type of work. I thought it was cool and could really see the potential of it. For these reasons I wanted to learn everything I could. I wanted to be in every possible session. I think that many people feel the same way at kidmin conferences. They want to learn all they can to be better at what they do. In some cases they may be feeling overwhelmed in their ministry and are desperate for help. This leads them to urgently run from one session to the next afraid to miss that one nugget of wisdom that is going to forever change their ministry. One of the best sessions I have ever attended at a conference was one I skipped. During a breakout session at the Orange conference a couple years ago I had a chance to chat with Amy Dolan. We met up and found one of the conference rooms that was not being. We spent the entire hour chatting. It was at least as impactful as any session I DID attend.
I was the ONLY guy. I have spent most of my adult life working in a hospital setting. As a male nurse I am completely comfortable being the only guy in the room. I am comfortable working with and around women. In fact early in my nursing career there were many nights when I was the rooster; the only man in the ER other than the doctors. What bothered me was that I KNOW I was NOT the only man at the conference that needed this session. As I mentioned above I have been in ministry a while and have talked to many ministry leaders. I know that there are many men in ministry that are hurting. I know that there are many who are experiencing exactly what this session addressed. I know that there are many more that are on the verge of this or are heading in that direction.
Why weren’t there more men.There are a number of possible reasons for this. Some of them are addressed above. Certainly, the things discussed below can apply to both men and women. But, I am a man. As such I understand men a little better than I understand women. (ok a LOT better). Furthermore, as a man, I can speak for men, but I would never presume to speak for women.
- Pride. Certainly pride is not uniquely a man’s problem. Many women struggle with this as well, especially today. But, I do think that it is something that men struggle with more. This inability or unwillingness to admit, even to yourself, that you have a problem can keep many out of a session like this. Unfortunately, it also keeps them from the help they need.
- Shame. There is a sense in ministry that all the people around us have it all together. When you believe this, then your own brokenness can cause shame. After all, if THEY have it all together, what’s wrong with YOU?
- Fear. There can be this thought that to attend a session such as this one is a show of weakness. We think that this shows that we have a problem that we can’t handle on our own and are therefore weak. The truth is that being willing to walk into this type of session says a couple other things:
- Your just as messed up as the rest of us.
- You know it.
- You’re STRONG enough to publicly face it, regardless of what others may think.
Did YOU need this session? Are you reading this and realizing that you probably should have been in this session? Maybe you were not able to attend the conference, but this title and post resinate with you. If so, please be encouraged. I would love to talk with you to share what was covered in this session and to help you work through whatever your going through. Next week I will share my notes from the session and expound on them a little bit. Watch for that post. Use the box to the right to subscribe to the blog and ensure that you don’t miss that post or any other. Feel free to email me and tell me your story. Let’s work through our stuff together. As God intended.Matt Norman
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