Registration lines. Lanyards. Nametags. Breakout Session choices. Long bathroom lines. Does any of this sound familiar? If you have attended any conference these should be in your vocabulary. I’ve been to one this Spring, worked one this summer, and spoken at many over the last 15 years. Just recently I had a conversation with a friend about how she went to a conference and was ready for God to work (and He did!). Since then I’ve been thinking about how I can encourage women to prepare for attending conferences.
This list actually is somewhat in order and I hope it encourages you to think through your life, priorities, and needs before you attend a conference (even if its just a night at your church).
1. Prepare. If you are anything like me your mind goes a million miles an hour. When you are trying to get away or do something your mind is constantly on things at the house. It is hard to still your mind to be able to listen. Even at the recent conference I volunteered at (TGCW12), my mind was racing in a million different directions because of the friends around me, what was going on in my personal life, traveling in a car while pregnant, and of course hormones. This is what I mean by preparing to attend a conference: 1. If you have children, set up reliable childcare for them. Maybe its your husband, or a neighbor, but be confident of their ability to handle situations on their own (so they won’t call you every 5 minutes during the conference). If you are the main provider of meals (cooking) in your home, prepare some meals that your family can eat while you are gone. Finish the laundry and do other household chores so your mind won’t be thinking of all you have to do when you return. This last one is going to sound a bit odd, and maybe its just me, but I like this one. Prepare your wardrobe. I often feel that (especially now that I don’t work) I only get a to see people out a few days a week. yes, you should dress well for your husband, that is not what I’m saying, but have fun with your wardrobe at conferences. You want to be comfortable so you won’t stop breathing during a main session because your jeans are too tight, but look cute. Women tend to function better with other women when they are dressed cutely. I’m not telling you to dress to impress – just dress femininely and in step with the conference. Think through what jewelry you will wear with each outfit, shoes, accessories. If you can (and packing is an issue) maybe try to find outfits that go with the same pair of shoes so you don’t have to pack 14 pair! This preparation will help with packing and you’ll feel cute.
2. Study. Most conferences will give you the main session topics (even specific Biblical passages that are being shared) or at least the conference theme. As soon as you sign up for the conference study that topic. Look at the subject headings and ask God to prepare your heart to fully hear what He wants you to hear. As you choose your breakout sessions, don’t just pick them based on the personality leading it, but on what might be most important to your spiritual growth for that conference. Open your Bible, get a journal specifically for that conference, and study, expecting God to show up in your study times and show you what He wants you to take into the conference.
3. Pray. You might say I have this one in the wrong order, but praying specifically for the conference will come in handy (and yes, we should always pray without ceasing). Here are some things you can be praying for: 1. The speaker. If you personally know the speaker, ask her/him what you can be specifically praying for for them while they speak or prepare. 2. The logistics. As someone who knows what it takes to plan and impliment a conference, so many things can go wrong when you want them to go right. Those mishaps can be a distraction that Satan can use to “stop” God’s work. Pray that everything goes smooth (and if you are part of the preparation team – work hard so things go as smooth as possible as long as it depends on you). 3. Other attendees. Maybe you are attending the conference with a group of friends or know of specific sitations in others’ lives that God needs to work in during this conference. Pray for those friends. Finally, pray for yourself. Pray that God will give you ears to hear exactly what you need to hear, that you will block out the distractions of the world, and that you will be open to the work of the Spirit in your life.