This past weekend I went to the AFA Leaders Conference in Kansas City, MO. AFA stands for Agriculture Future of America. It was a great weekend filled with awesome speakers, meeting gifted students from all across the country, discussing issues in the agriculture industry and of course leaving me confused to my calling in life. But hey, many of us are most of the time, at lease I hope I'm not the only one?
The theme this year was "Our Voice, Our Vision," and the goal was to equip us with the tools to tell our story related to Agriculture to combat some of the craziness of other organizations that are against production agriculture due to their perceived "ethical and safety standards." I basically want to ask those opposed to production agriculture if they want to eat in 40 years when there are 9 BILLION people on this planet and we are utilizing less than 70% of the land and resources we have in today's agricultural production? Technology and innovation are key people to feed the world come 2050.
The food producers of the world are consumers as well. Do you think they would really produce something unsafe for their own children to eat? Same goes for the use of antibiotics in the meat industry, I would sure like to eat a healthy animal even if it was treated with antibiotics rather than a diseased one. This stuff has been tested and the science is behind it. I could throw out more facts and figures about the safety of our food system, but I think I've made my point, so I'll get off my soap box and move onto another topic.
What I think I got more out of this year's conference was another nudge towards ministry. Every Christian is called to some sort of ministry to share their stories of faith. But it was two years ago at this conference that I first felt a nudge. There were lots and lots of leadership presentations and I thought about how cool it would be to present a lot of this stuff, only with a "Christian twist." It got my mind percolating at least, but I didn't take much action from there, or did I without really knowing it? That's about when I made the first commitment to Disciple Bible Study when the craziness of my 2009 was over. That's about when I knew I wanted to grow as a person and jump into the craziness of 2009 and have experiences of a lifetime!
I've always liked leadership training and development. The Madison County Youth Leadership Academy was my first real taste of that back in 2005 and now I have a minor in leadership in college. I was sitting in my OLS class today and we talked about the spectrum from behavioral leadership to value-based leadership and I could see myself using this material down the road. Servant leadership was the main topic in lecture and it could not have come at a better time - leading for a moral and ethical purpose above your own purpose. Hmmm..... Christian Leadership?
What really gave me this nudge this year was recognizing the difference in my confidence between two different sessions. The first session was an executive forum where we had the opportunity to talk with executives in the industry about key issues and what can be done about them. This wasn't just a panel up there on stage where only about half the audience is truly engaged - it was six or eight students to one executive at a table and we had three rotations to meet other execs. For the most part I felt I could hold my own against these other crazy-ambitious students, but I couldn't come from a first-hand point of view about many of the issues. I couldn't really speak knowledgeably and therefore confidently about some of the topics and I left that session feeling kind of beat up on the inside. Not a complete failure, but definitely not feeling like a million bucks.
The second session was the fellowship opportunity on Sunday morning. It was not a typical worship service. There were a couple of songs and a few prayers, but it was more of a round table discussion again for about 30 minutes where the facilitator had pulled out some practical examples in the Bible that related to our theme that we have been discussing in an ag-related mindset, only now applying it to our faith. Basically, Christians' "Our Voice, Our Vision." Nobody really took the lead at our table to start developing discussion, so I just jumped in before I think I realized it - and it was AWESOME! We had a great discussion, I was pulling questions out of nowhere that helped drive the conversation with basically complete strangers. Well, I have a pretty good idea where I was pulling them from actually, or who was supplying them rather. There was a student from OSU who was at two of the exec. forum tables I was at and who was also at my table during the fellowship. I was impressed by him during the exec. forum because he was very well spoken and knowledgable about several of the issues. He then paid me a compliment after the fellowship session!
To spare this from getting much longer, as I'm sure I'll write more about this in my quest to hone in on what this nudge means, I'm now going to start researching different programs in Christian Leadership. Drumroll please......... that probably means some sort of seminary for me! Growing up, I always wanted to do what my brother did - pulled my two front teeth out when he lost his, played with Power Rangers instead of Barbies, wanted to drive when he started to drive and definitely wanted a letter jacket when he got his! But I still did my own thing: He was a bookworm - I rode my horses, he played with legos - I had my toy horses. Ok, yes, there is a pattern here, I'm horse-crazy - what's new? So now I suppose I'm still playing copy-cat with the idea about going to seminary someday. Although he did admit on the phone yesterday that we are kind of alike and there is a small piece of similarity between the two of us - which is hilarious actually!
Stay-tuned for where this nudge will lead me next!