Tomorrow I will be driving to Atlanta for the Orange Conference. I look forward to this all year. It is always an amazing experience. Not to mention that it is TONS of FUN. However, I have to remind myself what this is really all about. Here is what I am doing to get ready. I hope this helps you to get ready as well.
- It’s not about me: No person is at this conference by accident. It is not coincident that even a single person is in attendance. Matthew 10:29 says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” Jesus goes on to say, “…you are worth more than many sparrows.” If God’s will even covers a sparrow and we are of much greater worth than they, then certainly my involvement in an event like this is not to be ignored. God has a plan for each person attending the Orange Conference this week, including you.
- My prayer: Lord, open my mind and my heart to receive the message that YOU have for me this week. Help me to keep my focus on YOU.
- It’s really not about me: Ok, I know I said this already, but hear me out. Even as God has a plan for me that includes my attendance at the Orange conference, he also has a plan for all the other people. I might be part of that plan for some of them. For instance, 2 years ago I met a man named Dave while wondering through the halls at the conference. It turns out that Dave lives and serves at a church not far from where I live. Dave was going through a tough time in his ministry and was hoping that the Orange Conference could be the beginning of better days. I took time to chat with Dave and give some encouragement. Over the next could years Dave and I kept running into each other a different events. Each time I would ask how things were going and each time they were better than the last. I don’t believe for even a second that this chance meeting with Dave was simply coincident.
- My prayer: Lord, help me to see the people that you would have me to connect with. Help me to see how you would have me to be a part of your plan for their life.
- It’s STILL not about me: In my past experiences at this type of event God has brought me into contact with people who have helped me far beyond the end of the conference. In fact many of these people I count as friends and call on them when I need help. For instance, at my first Orange Conference I had dinner with Amy Fenton Lee. We have stayed in contact since then. Last year I was dealing with the death of a child in my ministry. Amy saw some of my tweets and blog posts related to this and put me in contact with her dad who is a pastor and has been through a similar experience in his ministry. This would never have happened if I had not be open to and looking for the connections that God wanted me to make. Amy has become a friend and has helped me in many other ways as well.
- My prayer: Lord, help me to see the people that you would have me to connect with. Help me to look past my own agendas to see what YOU have planned for the relationships that are started this week.
It’s not about you either. I have written this post from my perspective. However, this all applies to you as well. Remember God has a plan for YOUR life and it is way better than any plan you might have. I think it is perfectly natural to enter an event like this with some thoughts of what YOU want to get out of it. Maybe there is some specific problem in your life or ministry that your hoping to find a solution to while your there. There will be lots of good information and the answer to your problem is quite likely to be at this conference. However, I recommend that you set your agenda aside. Remember God has brought you to this conference and HE has a plan for you. Set aside your own thoughts and desires for what YOU want to get out of this and ask God what HE wants you to get out of this. Ask God what HE wants you to learn. Ask God to reveal himself to you through this experience. After all it was HIS plan that brought you here to begin with.Matt Norman
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