Uganda Conference: Lessons Learned

I’m sitting at breakfast. It is Saturday morning, the day after the Youth Ablaze Conference. In four hours, I will be facilitating a leadership conference. I was told it will be two, two-hour sessions.

I’ve done nothing to prepare.

I’m all alone and feeling a real sense of peace. The conference is always a grueling five days of either one or two presentations per day. During the week I am completely immersed in the topic I’ll be speaking on next. This immersion always results in a simpler, clearer message. I actually find myself adding one new insight and removing two average ideas.

When we awakened on the first day of the conference, Kathy said before we left the room, “This is the first of five days. Are you ready?”

To which I replied, “We wait all year long for these five days. We pray. We complain. We capture lots of ideas. We finally start putting pen to paper to create the presentations. We are consumed by it. Then the conference starts, and what seems like the next day, it is over.”

That’s what happened this year. Again.

So here it is the morning after the last day of the conference. I am just taking it easy. I’m really not thinking about anything as I sip my breakfast coffee. Pure peace. Then Kathy joins me and says, “I left you alone for a while. I knew you had to prepare for the leadership conference. Are you ready?”

I tell her, “You know what? I really didn’t give it a thought.” And with that declaration, I have a couple of ideas.

Pastor Elijah asked me to give a presentation just for his leaders on the three P’s of a Kingdom Minded Entrepreneur. This is a presentation I delivered at the conference. He liked the ideas so much that he wanted to explore them with his leadership team.

I then had a thought on the second session.

I realized I had been mulling an idea over for a week or so. Instead of teaching on leadership, I should ask the audience whom they admire as leaders and why. This would lead to building a leadership model for the Hands of Love organization. This model would be constructed by the leadership team, and they would own it.

With these couple of ideas, I opened my notebook and started to write. One paragraph turned into a page, and a page turned into four pages. The first of the presentations was completed that fast.

Building a leadership model.

I had the perfect introduction to start the discussion. It came to me while listening to Kathy give one of her presentations.

She spoke about how she became a teacher after many years of being a mom and student. She said, “I began to admire this teacher in our church’s women’s ministry. She was an amazing teacher. I began to watch her and what she did and how she did it. One day, I complimented the teacher on how talented she is.”

That’s when the teacher asked, “Do you want to be a teacher?”

Kathy answered, “Yes. Doesn’t everyone want to be a teacher? But I’m not qualified.”

Right after the teacher started her session in front of the class of 50 women, she asked the class, “How many of you would like to be a teacher?” Kathy raised her hand then looked around the room. Her hand was the only one raised. That’s the day Kathy became a teacher.

There is a process of becoming.

It starts with admiring a person because of the skill they have. What you don’t realize is you value and desire that skill. That’s why you admire them.

Then you watch and observe how they do it.

Finally, you make the jump and become that teacher, leader, or entrepreneur. It is a process we follow unconsciously, sometimes.

The preparation for the entire four-hour leadership class was completed before breakfast.

It’s all about them.

I realized why I struggle so much when preparing to give a presentation or to facilitate a meeting. I’m thinking about what I want to say. Instead, I must discern what the audience needs to learn.

As the preparation time disappears, I am forced to think about the audience and forget about me.

In other words, the content of the presentation is not what I think is important for them to hear. It is about the audience and their needs and how I might help them. This is the audience-speaker connection. This is how a speaker builds a relationship with an audience. It is the miracle of the many to one.

Kathy drank her coffee, patiently waiting for me and enjoying the beautiful Kampala weather and view. She remained silent. I finished up writing my notes. It all took a half-hour, tops. Then breakfast was served.

Three hours later, we were picked up and delivered to the venue. I presented the three P’s for the first half of the conference. We took a break for lunch. Then I introduced the challenge of building a leadership model.

It worked! And it was effortless.

It generally takes a long preparation struggle to get me to surrender. When I finally give up, relax, and rely on the Holy Spirit for the message, the pen just starts writing.

It takes a lot of pain and false starts to stop thinking about me and start thinking about them, my audience.

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One thought on “Uganda Conference: Lessons Learned

  1. I resonate with this process you describe. But it always leaves me squirming and battling for faith.

    Thanks for encouraging my faith with this story!

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