A few weeks ago I attended my second Influence Conference. This year, getting to the conference was a little more emotional, since it was my first time [ever] leaving Knox overnight. But it taught me the importance of taking time for yourself in the midst of the sacrifices of motherhood. Those sacrifices are worth every moment motherhood brings, [even the difficult ones] but getting away for a few days to be reminded of my unique influence was incredibly refreshing.
As with last year, the conference was an amazing experience. One of the best parts of the conference, is the friendships its helped me form and continue to grow despite distance. During the conference, [last year and this year] my friend Elise was kind enough to let me stay with her [downtown Indy hotel rooms are NOT cheap!] and we commuted together each day. I’ve known Elise for a few years now, [not through the network] as our husbands have been besties since high school…lucky for them, we became fast friends too :)
I was super excited when my new friend Suzanne told me a few weeks before the conference that she’d be attending as well! We first made contact over a motherhood Instagram post, and realized that we only live 15 minutes from each other! I also hung out with two friends I met at last year’s conference, and have since kept in touch with, Erin and Leia. Erin and I were both pregnant at last year’s conference, and have kept in touch over the ups and downs of motherhood, and Leia [who was pregnant THIS conference!] and I both work for Cru! They both live in Wisconsin, so I was so grateful to be able to hug them both in person and catch up face-to-face on life.
It was so fun reconnecting and just having girl time for a few days in a row. Marriage is the BEST, but there really is nothing like good, quality girl time. Especially when you’re all focusing on God’s incredible calling, your deep passions, and how to best use those to authentically influence others in their calling and passions for the Lord.
This year’s theme was “Campfire Commissioning.” I loved the heart behind commissioning us as women to go out into our spheres of influence to live out God’s calling. But then on the last day, in a very honest and humble way, one of the Influence Network founders, Jess Connolly, stated that in reality, they aren’t the ones commissioning us. Jesus already did that.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
It was such a great reminder that no matter how our passions, gifts and talents play out in our lives, our goal should be reaching others for Jesus, and teaching them how to do the same. That doesn’t mean that everyone out there should be a pastor or in in some sort of ministry, but that whatever we do in life should have the underlying purpose of furthering the gospel.
For my friend Erin, who’s a graphic designer [among other super cool artsy things] and pastor’s wife, this may look like designing websites, blogs and art work that help women live out their purpose and calling in a more beautiful, creative, authentic way, as well as serving beside her husband as he shepherds their church.
Me? I am a total spaz when it comes to anything design-oriented. I am SO not artistic. So I am in awe when women like Erin can use their artistic talents to enable people like me to live more beautiful lives than we could never create for ourselves.
I love to write, [obviously] and I love to disciple women in a way that encourages them to grow in their walk with the Lord and authentically live out their purpose and passions for the Lord. God is still teaching me what it means to live out those passions while being Mommy to a little person, but every time I’m at an event like this conference, those two things are echoed as my individual calling.
Some other key points I learned at Influence:
We’re not wired to multi-task, we just switch back and forth really quick. But it comes at a cost.
Our phones bring micro decisions and sap away at our ability to fight lies and focus on what’s important- an undivided heart towards Jesus.
God is the one to sustain me, not social media.
An undivided heart is one yolked to Jesus- when the Father sees me, he sees Jesus because we are ONE.
Turn “I should” into “I could.” Don’t should on yourself.
The anticipation of failure is far worse than failure itself.
Do something that makes your heart sing simply because it makes your heart sing.
Rest allows for tenderness.
An amateur pianist finds the rest to be an interruption to the music, a trained pianist finds the rest to be an enhancement of it. Rest is important.
Sometimes asking for help releases another person from their own perfectionist prison.
Change “good” + “bad” days to “easy” + “hard” days.
- did I come to this project only after checking in with the Lord about it?
- am I writing out of a love for the Lord + others, and am I writing out of service + authenticity?
- do my words point to the Lord instead of myself?
- is it bringing hope to the hopeless?
There is nothing new under the sun. What’s new is your perspective.
Let’s live big + free, not small + scared.
Spiritual warfare: it’s not for the “specialty forces,” we are ALL in the fight.
Are you aware + awake to the fact that we’re in a spiritual fight?
The good news is: the war is already WON!
Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.
The most dangerous pretense: “she really loves the Lord.” [It points to YOU not GOD.]
We are to promote the aroma of CHRIST not of ourselves. [2 Corinthians 2:14-17]
We have a choice: we can either spin out of control with our web of deceiving thoughts, or bind ourselves to the Lord by weaving strong threads of truth around our anxious thoughts.
Be killing sin or sin will be killing you. [John Owen]
Most of your unhappiness in life comes from listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself.
We need to train ourselves in the gospel truth in the mundane moments of life. [Psalm 42]
We need to talk back to our stress, anxieties, faithlessness, fear, etc.
Preaching to yourself is, your strongest line of defense; a diagnostic test; Biblical counsel; tactical offense; the intersection where the cross + gospel meets daily life.
God’s answer to Job’s complaints wasn’t an explanation, it was himself.
What we say to ourselves when no one is watching, when no one is listening, when no one is reading is what we truly treasure and believe in our hearts.
When we miss out on grace, we get hypercritical, further from God and things get hazy.
Jesus is the key to unlock a free life.
There is NO reason to try to do it alone.
Grace + freedom are not unattainable when we ask.
God gives us life + life abundant.
God wants us to have a better life NOW, not just later.
Shut up and just let me love you. Love, God. [Zephaniah 3:17]
Applying grace to others: “how would I want to be treated if I was the one who messed up?”
In marriage and relationships: We choose to trust. We believe the best.
It’s been 2 weeks since the conference, and I’m STILL processing through how everything I learned can be applied to my life. Being at Influence is like drinking from a fire hose…and it takes a few weeks [months?] to really spend thinking and soaking everything up. But that’s one of the main things I’ve taken away from it: life is a process. A journey. I’m never going to have everything figured out. If I did, I wouldn’t need Jesus. I’m constantly going to be changing + growing, assessing + learning. And if I keep my eyes on Jesus, I can live out that change, growth, assessment and learning with the purpose of living a life that is glorifying to Him, and one that is in line with His amazing plan for me.
I’m so bummed this was the last 3-day conference, but I’m so thankful for the friendships and experiences I’ve had through Influence Conference and the Influence Network. But I look forward to what’s to come…these women have some awesome ideas, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!
For those of you who haven’t heard of it before, the Influence Network exists as a starting place to equip + encourage you in your passions + projects, right where you are.
They offer classes in a variety of topics, including but not limited to: branding, comparison + authenticity, introverts guide to ministry, battling fear, writing as a ministry, identity + beauty, adoption, painting, supporting your spouse in their dreams, and SO many more!
They also offer virtual community groups, where you can receive encouragement from other women who are also striving to use their passions and talents to further the Kingdom of God.
If you are interested in joining or simply checking out the Influence Network, check it out here.