Lifeway Women’s Forum 2016

lifeway-forumAt the last minute, I learned I had the chance to road-tip to Nashville to volunteer at the LifeWay Women’s Leadership Forum. This meant I got to greet attendees, assist break-out speakers, hand out free stuff (can I please do this every day of my life??), and sit in on the general sessions.

I joined with several hundred other women to listen to the teaching of leaders who have written books and Bible studies that God has used to refine my faith, grow my convictions, and inspire me to share the gospel.

During one of the weekend’s sessions, Jennie Allen (author, speaker, and founder of IF) said something that grabbed my heart and didn’t let go:

“We try to get water from the mission of God, rather than God Himself.” 

I’m really glad she didn’t ask us to raise our hands if we were guilty of that because if I wanted to answer honestly, I would’ve had to stand up in my seat and wave both hands in the air.

See, I volunteered at Forum last year, too. When that conference happened, I was halfway through my first semester of seminary and beyond excited to see how God would work in my life over the next few years (bless my heart, I hadn’t even experienced a finals week yet). Some things were coming up in my life I’d only dreamed about. These opportunities were so perfect it was like God had designed them just for me. I was thrilled for the year ahead.

Fast-forward back to when this year’s conference took place: I’d gone through a season of deep discouragement and disappointment. That incredible opportunity fell through. Things hadn’t turned out at all like I’d planned. I’d been feeling a little burned out and found myself asking God if He’d really told me to go a certain direction in ministry, or if my own loud voice had said that (it happens).

Until Jennie Allen’s session, I hadn’t realized I’d been chasing after the mission of God. I thought if I could just see more, do more, be more, I’d somehow have more value as a disciple of Jesus.

Jennie pointed us to Matthew 11:28-30, which says: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

As Jennie reminded us, this is a completely different way of living. It’s all about focusing on God, sticking close to Him, and letting Him fill you, rather than clinging to a ministry position and dehydrating.

Are you guilty of that, too? Have you strived and fought, yet only found yourself frustrated and tired? If so, turn back to the Lover of your soul; the One who gave you that calling in the first place.

Forum was just what my heart needed. I got to take a break from the routine of everyday life, worship alongside so many other women, and hear truth.

I went to the conference to serve, but Jesus, the ultimate Servant Leader, led me back to my one, true calling: To be His.

Anna SchaeferAnna Schaeffer is earning an M.A. in Ministry to Women at SEBTS. An author and blogger, Anna writes to inspire teen girls and women to embrace God’s purpose for their lives. She’s also into laughter, random adventures, and all things bread-related.
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