I was tired. Really tired. But it’s a good kind of tired. Conference season is over for me. After eleven conferences (and 12k logged miles), some back-to-back, my suitcase is finally emptied and stored in its place. As I climbed the ladder to store the suitcase, I found myself a little sad that it’s done for the year.
When I left the last conference in Pennsylvania, I wrapped my arms tight around the director who is also a very dear friend, knowing I wouldn’t see her again for a couple of years. My voice cracked.
“I hate goodbyes!” I choked back tears. “I will miss you sweet friend.” And a long and intentional hug happened.
No conference would be complete without faculty. Those folks who work for peanuts, (usually going in the hole financially), but could care less about the money. Their job is to be in service to Christ and His people they are called to serve.
What exactly goes into the work of a faculty member? More than you can imagine. Countless hours of preparation and study. It’s important to be up to snuff on current trends and changes in an industry that flips upside down in a heartbeat. Just making those Power Points alone takes forever. Reservations, flights, car rental and then the travel. Critiques, mentoring, manuscript acquisitions (all of which must be read). And then there is family. For every day faculty spends with conferees, their family are left behind.
Conference days begin around 7 a.m. but faculty is generally up around 5, again preparing for the day. And the days end from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. depending on the number of conferees that need assistance. Still, I don’t know one faculty member who regrets one ounce of preparation or time spent with a conferee. It’s gratifying and it’s a blessing. One that, years later, continues to give.
Faculty never knows from year to year what conferences they will work, if any (yes, sometimes we’re rotated out), so we never take for granted the opportunity to serve when it is offered.
Now we come to the question of what can you do for faculty? It’s really fairly simple.
* Be kind and respectful of the time they serve at conferences – Understand their work as an agent, author, or publisher, continues after you’ve said goodnight. Faculty members are still making deadlines, sorting through manuscripts, and preparing for the next day’s work.
*Don’t ask us to take your books home – It’s not that we don’t appreciate it, but with airline restrictions and many of us packing on a shoestring, we simply can’t get them home. If we accepted every book offered to us, we’d be shipping home 15-20 books. We do appreciate your offer and we celebrate your success. If you want us to have your book, take the time to mail it.
*Say thank you – Nothing means more than to receive a sweet thank you. Once we’re home and begin to sort through mail, those sweet thank you notes become prized possessions. We keep them. Cherish them. Reread them. They are affirmation that the work we do is appreciated and blessed.
*Don’t take for granted faculties don’t pray. – Faculties pray from the day they accept their invitations to conferences for divine appointments, safe travel, and open hearts and minds. Prayer begins for conferees first thing in the morning and doesn’t stop until bedtime.
The next time you attend a conference, look a little closer at the faculty and the time they willingly offer. And when you hear a raspy voice (from talking so much), offer them a cough drop, or a soft drink, or better yet – chocolate. Remember, faculty loves you. Truly loves you. They enjoy their time with you and when we leave to return home, you remain close in our hearts and minds.
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