While I lived in Africa, I traveled a few months out of the year speaking in small to medium conference venues and church settings. I don’t think I ever made it to the main stage or the big time in the conference circuit. Around it, yes. On it, no. And the fact I didn’t was quite likely God’s enormous protection.
First, let me say thank you. I deeply appreciate any and all of you who hosted me over the years. I was blessed to meet genuinely amazing and often unsung heroes, and even more honored to call many of you friends to this day. That was and still is one of my greatest joys.
There was however a particularly strange artifact in a sizable number of places I traversed. A curious anomaly called the “green room” or sometimes the “hospitality suite”. Now let me say upfront I am so grateful for the service and love offered there.
Usually, I would have just flown 20 hours and spent an additional 10-20 hours in additional forms of transit. I often was bone tired and sometimes quite ill. Loving, kind hospitality and a place to find a quiet moment to maybe even grab 15 minutes of shut-eye. Such. A. Gift.
But I often encountered some other dynamics that just did not factor into my understanding of God’s heart and purpose in having me travel to minister outside of Africa.
Enter bouncers. Well… sort-of bouncers who’d whisk me off stage away from the often not-so-teeming crowds to grab a snack in the green room and meet all the other speaker-leader people. I like snacks. I like meeting and getting to know people. Sometimes I was exhausted and would have probably just curled up on a patch of floor somewhere and took a nap if given the chance. People would have thought I was praying. Win-Win.
But the whole idea of green room politics. Eek. Help me Jesus. I might step on toes here… But the business card swapping, elbow-rubbing, quid pro quo, I’ll-invite-you-to-my-event-if-you’ll-have-me-at yours was just not why I came. Building connections with better known speakers to somehow get discovered and become the next ministry sensation was not why I came. I came to love and serve people, 99% of whom were not allowed in the green room.
And so I became a green-room-escape artist.
I often said hello if hellos were in order and excused myself to powder my nose (which did indeed get powdered) and just never went back. I set up coffee dates as God led or just went and grabbed a cup and started chatting with real people with real needs who were my reason for being there.
The most powerful ministry I ever have had a chance to be a part of on the road… Two percent of it, maybe, if we stretched, squinted just right and rounded the decimals up, happened from a podium. 98% happened over coffee, meals, sitting on a couch being real.
I wonder how much ministry on God’s heart in conference settings never happens because as speakers we tuck ourselves away in green rooms.
Jesus, well, He was the ultimate green room escape artist. People wanted to crown Him king before His time. What did He do? He disappeared. I’m sure the disciples were like, what the heck, JESUS, YOU MISSED the greatest PR platform of Your career. Seriously?!?
But Jesus knew what His Father was asking of Him. He knew He was already King of Kings so accepting an earthly crown was actually a massive demotion.
If we know who we really are in Jesus, we don’t need popular opinion to crown us or people to promote us.
So if I am ever fortunate enough to share at your event or speak at your church, we need to have an understanding. I will be grateful for your green room (especially if it has gluten free options 😉 a girl can hope) as long as I don’t have to escape from it to hang out with the people I came to serve.
Cool? Awesome. We’ll all go have a coffee together. Or crash McDonald’s at almost midnight to get ice cream sundaes. Know this, you are included in His heart and you are forever deeper-than-you-can-imagine extravagantly loved by Him.
Take heart friends, if you’ve never seen a green room, be encouraged. The REAL action is usually outside of it.