This past weekend, I went to a men’s conference with some friends from church. It had been a while since I had gone to something like this, and to be honest, I’m not sure that I had really ever been to anything quite like this before. And while I’m being honest, I wasn’t necessarily thrilled to be going. Call it positive peer pressure that some of my good friends were going and had invited me along.
When my friend who had registered the group of us who was going had sent me the link to register for my breakout sessions, I clicked on it. When I began to read through some of the offerings, I had to scroll up to make sure that I had not been led to an errant website. Baseball pointers. Bass fishing. Fly fishing. Maintaining your firearms. And on and on the list went. This was not the ordinary men’s conference.
When we arrived for the beginning of the conference, they had these guys with big muscles bending and breaking stuff. Typical guy stuff, right? Hey, I like to break and bend stuff as much as the next guy, but it was pretty over the top for me. When I want to feel like a man, I’m not prone to banging on my chest and letting out a barbaric yell.
As extroverted as I may be, things like this can easily make me uncomfortable. I would say that at least 50% of the conference was worthwhile for me. Once I was able to wade through the infomercials that came fairly regularly, there was some pretty decent content and material. The packaging wasn’t always to my liking, but I have the ability to wade through some of the packaging in order to get down to the meat.
I commented to a friend that I would have struggled mightily had I brought a friend with me who did not know Christ. It would have been just downright awkward. Hey, I’m not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, it’s how we package it that gets me a little hesitant at times, and the packaging wasn’t very palatable for anyone who was new to this Christianity stuff or who had never even heard of it before.
Weekends like this, to me, are more about the relationships. In fact, if I could have spent all of the time with the 15 other guys who I was with, talking, hanging, unpacking life issues, I probably would have been fairly content.
Men come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. They come with all kinds of likes and desires. They come with all different kinds of hobbies and pastimes. It’s a challenge for any big conference to get it right when you have so many choices and preferences to choose from, so, I give full props to these guys for putting together a conference that mostly kept me engaged. I would easily go again, especially if it was with the crew I went with this time.
I was the guy in college that preferred dorm life over class. When I was in seminary, I preferred the relationships that I had with students and faculty over some of the coursework. I prefer relationships over BIG stuff. Relationships are things that you can take with you, they last a lifetime.
I’m glad that I went. I am grateful for my group of friends with whom I experienced this. I learned a lot about myself and am looking forward to connecting more with the friends who I value and even cherish. Sure, I would rather have just hung with all of them, but sometimes, you have to take the good with the bad.
While I didn’t get all “Rah Rah” with some of what was going on, it was a worthwhile experience that was reinforced and enhanced by the relationships that I have with the people I was with. Just the opportunity to build that camaraderie more over the weekend was worth the price of admission to me.