I spent last week in Austin at the National Worship Leaders Conference. It was an interesting week. Looking back on it, I'm realizing that although the conference was somewhat helpful and thought provoking, the most beneficial activities of the week were the conversations that took place organically simply because people were gathered together in one place. The sessions, worship times and speakers were fine, but the most meaningful times for me happened in between the scheduled stuff.
I ran into Jeff Nelson and was able to catch up with him. It was meaningful and helpful and totally unplanned. Jeff has mentored, inspired and encouraged me through the years in ways that he doesn't even fully realize. I had no idea he was going to be there, but my time with him was rich.
During a lunch break one day, I met two young guys from Arizona and one from Houston who were very excited to be at the conference. I found myself in the role of the "older, more experienced" one in the group. Our conversation turned to the topic of marriage and fatherhood and I shared what little I know about that and then listened to them share their hearts and we encouraged each other.
Best of all, I stayed with my friend Allen Robertson, so at the end of every conference day I met with him and discussed everything from children's television to existentialism. Although he would deny it, Allen is a genius and one of my favorite people in the world. I'm honored to be his friend.
I returned home on Thursday evening and early Friday morning the whole family took a quick trip out to Abilene to see our dear friends the Fishers. Craig and I played golf while Beth Ann and Stephanie took the kids swimming. We had a cook out on Friday night and generally just relaxed and caught up on life. It was a wonderful ending to a busy week.
Rainey and Emily had a blast playing with Riley and Owen Fisher.
I guess what I'm saying is that life is about relationships. It's up to me to find life-giving people to spend time with and to do my best to be that kind of friend. I think that's the main reason God told us to meet together on a regular basis. He doesn't need our programs, but He knows we need each other. So we plan these gathering times and we fret about how they will come off and we have conferences to learn how to create better gathering times. The truth of the matter is we can only create the time and the space. The truly significant part happens organically. It did for me last week and for that I am thankful.