Last weekend will go down in my personal history book with a dog-eared marker and more memories than 72hrs should be allowed to carry.
I attended and participated in a conference with hundreds of early educators who love and serve children.
Worship leader Peter Neumann watered our parched souls. Inspirational speakers reignited our passion to press forward in doing what we know we’re called to do – serve our littlest with grace and humility. And nothing drove that truth home for me better than our keynote speaker Dr Wess Stafford, from Compassion International.
Wess Stafford understands service. He also understands humility and the upside-down economy of the Kingdom of God.
Children matter to Wess Stafford and people who invest in the lives of children do too.
I was mesmerized by his keynote address Sat morning – but it was observing his life behind the scenes that drove stakes of influence deep into my soul. I watched Dr Stafford attentively listen to each person who approached him. One by one they came up to him to share their personal stories.
His eyes sparkled and narrowed as he listened and tenderly conveyed to them, “I’m honored to be in your presence”.
When a camera surfaced for a photo, he would grab his new friend close like a proud dad – tilt his head into them, and with a gentle smile of familiarity thank them by name for the privilege of the meeting.
He listened. He invested. He expressed value through understanding and authenticity. He became Christ in the moment.
I had the privilege of speaking at the Fri evening service. I was told Dr Stafford might arrive early enough to attend. Of course I knew he wouldn’t – he’s WAY too important to be bothered. And his commitment began the next day.
The service was held in a dimly lit room which was beautifully decorated with dozens of candles. The sea of faces blurred into the overpowering soft glow of candlelight.
Minutes after we started it became apparent there would be no eye contact with the audience which actually aligned nicely with the direction I felt God wanted the service to go. It was also a good solution for my concern about the possibility of speaking in front of a big name celebrity.
God met each of us in the candlelit room – he listened. He valued and affirmed us.
The next day Wess Stafford came up to thank me for the previous evening service. I couldn’t believe it. He came and we both survived.
As I looked into his eyes, I understood. Yes, he’s a brilliant leader, advocate, author, and is known around the world – but he truly gets who he is. He’s just another one of God’s equally valued children – we all are. When he says children matter, he means it. I mattered. I will never forget the minutes he gave me and how it affected me.
After all, someone from my playground wrote them – and he’s my new hero and friend!!
What I learned:
- It only takes a minute to make a lasting deposit in someone’s heart
- God’s presence dispels our false ideas of what makes us grand
- Affirmation without humility only affirms the person giving it
- And – God loves us, truly loves us – because we are his