In my 30 years of leadership experience, I’ve attended numerous conferences and training events that have enhanced my work, my calling, and my personal life. I don’t just lead training conferences for women; I attend them. Sometimes I go even when they force me out of my comfort zone.
Case in point: A few years ago I discovered a conference that seemed beneficial to my work. I didn’t know a single person going, except for one of the keynote speakers. I’m sure I was last on her list of people to have lunch with. Even so, I packed my bags, convinced my team leader it would be a good investment, and landed in unfamiliar territory.
Over the next few days, I met some amazing women with a variety of passions and skills. I listened to speakers I had never heard of, took copious notes on a variety of subjects and returned home with a full heart and renewed passion for my calling. When I arrived at the hotel, the first person I ran into was the keynote speaker I mentioned. Unexpectedly, she quickly invited me to her table and introduced me to some fabulous women who are now noted authors, artists, and prolific bloggers. Not only was this conference good for my work, it was good for my soul.
That one conference, along with the cumulative years of training events I’ve attended, are a reminder of why I believe you and your team need to attend a leadership conference this year. Whether it’s a one-day You Lead event offered in multiple locations across the country or the national LifeWay Women’s Leadership Forum, here are some reasons you need to make training events part of your leadership journey.
First, you’ll learn from experts on a variety of topics. Whether you are beginning in leadership or you have been leading for years, training conferences give you relevant content from others who are in the trenches. They are practitioners who understand your calling. You aren’t just listening to speakers in the midst of thousands, but you are placed in smaller learning environments where you can engage with the teacher. Leadership conferences aren’t just for inspiration, but for education.
Second, you’ll network with others who have a similar passion. We always encourage women to bring ministry teams to our training events so they can process what they learn, but we also encourage women to sit by strangers and ask them questions. At You Lead events, women gather over lunch by similar roles and get to exchange ideas and conversations. At the Women’s Forum, I’ve attended panel discussions where I could ask questions. I have developed life-long friendships sitting next to women I didn’t know prior to the event.
At the conference I mentioned earlier, I promised myself I would sit by different women during every meal. On the final day, I found myself at an empty table. Tired of reaching out to strangers, I was content to allow others to come to me. After getting settled into my chair, I had a nagging feeling I was rebelling against my initial commitment to reach out to others. Reluctantly, I found my way to another table where another woman was sitting by herself. We quickly became acquainted, discovered mutual friends, and two years later she led a conference at one of my events. She recently passed away unexpectedly at the age of 38, but I will never forget my first encounter with Wynter. I could have missed the blessing of knowing her if I hadn’t sought to network with others.
Finally, leadership training will give you personal encouragement. There is nothing better than leaving a conference with a full brain and a full heart. I love that I don’t just learn from others, but I can dream of a preferred future that God has birthed in my heart during a conference. It’s why I love taking teams. I don’t want to be the only one who gets inspired about the Lord’s next steps for ministry. I want others to join me in that excitement. It’s easier to move forward with your vision when everyone is on the same page. Before coming to LifeWay, I attended the Women’s Leadership Forum as an attendee. It would have been great by myself, but I invited three others, including two of my emerging leadership team members in their early 20s. I look back on those few days with fondness of what we experienced together and how we dreamed about the future.
Ready to sign up? It’s not too late to join 1,500 other women for the Women’s Leadership Forum, November 8-10. As one ministry leader told me, “It’s like Christmas for leaders!” It’s also not too late to consider one of our remaining 2018 You Lead events or check out where we’re headed in 2019. I’m confident these opportunities could be the catalyst for your leadership potential.
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources and oversees the YOU Lead events. Join her this year and get to know her heart for ministry leaders. Follow her on Twitter @kellydking.