After years of being out of school, I find myself heading back again this time as a student of life and experience. A few years ago I stumbled into a career I would have never chosen. Actually it was more like I tripped and fell flat on my face into it. I became angry with God for what seemed to be a waste of my time. And when I first told people I was a meeting planner, they would scrunch up their faces and tilt their heads to one side. That’s a job?
It is a job – a very difficult, sometimes exciting, often exhausting job. And now that I’m three years in, I am eligible to become a Certified Meeting Planner, which is basically recognition for the skills I’ve been putting into place every day for the last 36 months. It may also open doors to better opportunities in the field. What began looking like time wasted is suddenly looking like time invested. Funny how that happens.
I have my books, joined a study group, and hope to test by the end of the year. I don’t think most people have any idea what goes into planning a meeting for hundreds of people that lasts four consecutive days, and I don’t think I fully recognized it until I cracked open my books. There are 10 different domains, each with its own subset of skills for a total of 30 different areas that go into managing an event.
For example, did you know there is a name for someone who lingers in the common areas of an event space for the purpose of soliciting? Up until recently, I didn’t either. But I do know how many gallons of coffee to order so there is enough for everyone, but I’m not wasting money. I know how to write an RFP so I get the best and most accurate proposals from potential sites. I know how to create a budget and work within it. I’ve taught myself about contract language so I know exactly what we’re getting into when I sign my name on that line – and where I can push a little harder to get a better deal.
This job is definitely in the details. And the whole time they are meeting, the attendees go about their day completely oblivious to everything that went on behind the scenes to make each puzzle piece fit together. When I do my job well, they don’t need to think about it, and most of the time, they don’t even see me.
God is the same way. So why do we stress about the little things?
Ironically enough, the document I carry with me to each event is lovingly titled, “Event Bible”. That’s because those 15 or more pages contain the specifics of each hour of the event: how many chairs we need at 9:00 am, what time the keynote speaker gets picked up at the airport, what snack is being served in the afternoon, and when the entertainment arrives. Every microphone, musician, and martini is accounted for in that document.
But there are still things I miss. I’m only human. Someone’s name is spelled wrong on their badge or I miscounted the place settings. The key is to not take it seriously and know how to think on your feet when problems arise, because they will always pop up.
The beautiful thing about the details of my life is that God never misses any of them. No part of what I walk through gets overlooked. Whether it looks good or it looks bad, He is always behind the scenes making sure the pieces fit. I can’t see him, and I don’t need to worry about it because that’s His job.
He reminded me of this the other day as I was letting my mind drift to the “what if’s”. What if this doesn’t work out, or what if that doesn’t happen when I think it should. Unlike a meeting planner (or me) who may forget something, God never forgets. My name is etched on his palm, and it’s spelled correctly. There is always a place setting for me at His table.
Matthew 6:26 says consider the birds of the air. They don’t sow or reap and God still feeds them. Aren’t we more valuable than them? Matthew 10:30 tells us even the hairs on our heads are numbered. That’s attention to detail. That’s something that on their best day, no meeting planner would know (nor would they want to know!).
But while job duty calls us meeting planners to be concerned with details, it’s the unfailing love of God that invokes the response He has toward us to not miss a thing- to know every detail of our lives and make it all work for our good.
I think about those pages of my “bible” and everything I keep track of, and that’s just for four days. God tracks with us each hour for our whole lives. I’m grateful to have Him as my planner, behind the scenes, and with me every step of the way.
What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? – Psalm 8:4