Recently I found myself in a meeting. Because we had a lot of important details to tend to, the meeting went a little long. And for basically all of those 150 detail-filled minutes, I was pretty much the most clueless person in the room.

Many of you know I’m on the planning committee for the Breathe Christian Writer’s Conference, which is held in Grand Rapids every October (writers, you should totally come!) Let me be clear: I love these people and this conference. I even love the meetings. It’s exciting to be part of something I really believe in, and deeply satisfying to watch experts in action.

But I’m not one of the experts, it turns out. Here, I’ve created an infographic to succinctly explain the situation:

While I know I’m loved and wanted on this team (this sentence is to forestall anyone on the team from feeling like they have to assure me of my worth), I totally understand I’m there for something other than contacts, social media prowess, or my in-depth understanding of the publishing world.

God only knows why I’m there, and I think it’s mostly because he has a great sense of humor and knows every team needs someone who’s willing to engage in shenanigans at a moment’s notice. And I am that girl!

Here I am with part of the team, and we’re all looking very serious as we get ready for the video shoot. This almost never happens (the seriousness or the video shoots). ((Photo courtesy of the Breathe Conference Facebook page.))

I’ve assembled some thoughts on this situation because I can’t be the only person who goes to meetings where everyone else is vastly qualified. Let me outline the steps I’ve found helpful:

  1. Come to terms with the fact that you will not be the expert in the room. It’s okay. Let this truth sink into your soul. Poke at it a little with the acceptance stick. Jesus himself told us that a person speaks out of the overflow from the heart (Luke 6:45), so let’s make sure our hearts are humble and ready to learn. I think we’ve all been in a meeting when an arrogant, clueless fool begins to blather. It’s torture. But this never happens when a person understands she knows nothing and feels no need to prove otherwise to her teammates.
  2. Listen. Seriously, make an art of listening. I one day hope to actually know things when I go to a Breathe planning meeting, which is why I tune into the conversation and listen like a ninja. I’m absorbing through my earballs.
  3. Ask pertinent questions that show the team you’re listening, even if you’re providing no good help. For example: Me: “Darron, how many people can the bookstore hold?” Darron: “Oh, the event space can hold at least 300 people.” Me: “Excellent.” Carry on, my friends. I have learned a new piece of helpful information.
  4. Accept the fact that your butt will go numb and you will have to stand. Your friend Ann may look at you with concern. You may have to casually announce to everyone that your rear end is causing you problems. It’s possible to stand and listen so just go ahead and do it, especially if the meeting has reached minute 135 and you also have an hour-long drive home.
  5. Enjoy the snacks! I’m hopeful that your meeting will at least have great snacks. Partake with great gladness.

I truly do get a kick out of seeing everyone in action. You might not realize the working parts that go into a successful conference, but about three million details have to come together to make sure there’s a meeting space, attendees, food, and speakers. This is why the team ends the conference with glazed looks and the inability to complete intelligent sentences.

Look at this beautiful stage that Elizabeth designed! See, that’s what I mean about details. We need a whole person for this! (This photo also stolen from the Breathe Facebook page.)

But we love it. It’s worth it. And I pray your really long meetings are worth it all, too.

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