But Epoch 2011 pulled it off masterfully.
I was honored to attend their inaugural event in Atlanta, and while I don't know what I was picturing, what they delivered far blew away any expectations I may have had.
The night was spectacular in every way. I'm not just talking about the historic Fox Theater, the classy meal, the engaging presenters, or the elegance of the entire evening. Although every element from start to finish was artful and captivating.
The most amazing part for me was the undercurrent of genuine humility.
I don't say something like that lightly. So hear me out.
The event was hosted by Adventures in Missions, an incredible organization that itself lives on financial support. And yet they made the evening about everyone but themselves.
They found sponsors, invited donors, and distributed grants to support-based organizations, even when they very much need (and would make good use of) those same resources. Seth Barnes, the founder and director of Adventures, said grace before the meal, but other than that, he chose to not be front and center. At all.
This wasn't about him. This wasn't about Adventures.
This was about serving and honoring their co-laborers around the world.
The ballroom was filled with over 400 people on all sides of missions work: from those who live full-time on the field to Kingdom-minded individuals who make a significant impact through their financial support.
The majority of us felt very out of place in our evening gowns and tuxedos, and yet... felt oddly at home with each other. Because underneath the heels and bowties, our hearts beat the same.
I spent an evening surrounded by those who have given of themselves more than anyone could possibly fathom. And yet it wasn't flaunted. The Gala wasn't showy or ostentatious. It was beautiful, yes. Classy, absolutely. But genuine, because of the genuine hearts present.
That "great cloud of witnesses" the author of Hebrews talked about? I was surrounded by the pre-Heaven version.
The faith, sacrifice, perseverance, and blood-sweat-and-tears labor that filled that room was nothing short of astounding. Nations have been changed -- and will continue to be changed -- by that roomful of humble misfits in evening attire.
It was a night like none other.
And I already can't wait for next year.
That is... if I get invited back after my shenanigans in the photo booth. My true self came out in typical fashion, despite my red dress and uncomfortably high heels. My friend Tracee and I are still laughing at these ridiculous pictures!
Where have you seen genuine humility recently?