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Do we need a meeting? Respecting others’ time

The time people give for meetings is a generous donation. Image by ( [Copyrighted free use], via Wikimedia Commons
The time people give for meetings is a generous donation. Image by ( [Copyrighted free use], via Wikimedia Commons
Some six months ago, I began living the life of a layperson while remaining clergy. After more than 20 years as an associate pastor, I now work a desk job in an office. While there are similarities to my previous life, it has been a season of adjustment.

One of the lessons I have learned is about time and the limited amount of it I have available each week.

In my pastoral positions, I had a good deal of control over my schedule. There were many appointments to keep and meetings to attend, but I was the one setting most of them. For example, I could schedule the mission trip parents meeting on Wednesday night because on Tuesdays my family watched Dancing with the Stars together. Protecting family time was important and it should be.

What I failed to realize fully, was that every meeting I did schedule was cutting into someone else’s family time, which was just as important to them and should be. I confess I didn’t always treat their attendance as the valuable donation to the life of the church that it was.

When people come to a meeting, they are donating something very valuable to the church. Respect their gift with these tips.

  • Do you really need a meeting? The parents mission trip meeting is a good example. For many of the parents, it was the same meeting as the one the year before. They knew the routine. There were wrinkles every year, but nothing for which they needed to give an hour of their family time. I didn’t need a meeting simply to disseminate information. Save meetings for collaborative work.
  • Use the technology available. Emails, YouTube, and Google Hangouts are a handful of free ways you can get your message out without a meeting. People can access the information when they have a few minutes—even at work. Be more creative.
  • Be prepared. I cannot tell you how many times people had set aside their time to do something of value in the church, and I wasn’t ready for the meeting. Agendas were loose, rehearsals were not thought through, handouts weren’t ready… it’s embarrassing to think about. Show people you value their time by being well prepared.
  • Start and end on time. OK, this may just be me, but start on time even if you know the Shebobitz family is coming and isn’t here yet. It is unfair to those who have arrived on time to wait for straggles. Soon people will learn to arrive on time. Also, end the meeting early. If people still have questions, hang around with them, but let others go. Don’t hold everyone up while you address a personal issue.
  • Show your gratitude for people’s participation. Not every meeting should be a party, but close. Give attendees your undivided attention, energy, and enthusiasm. Bring snacks, drinks, and/or candy. And say thank you. People like hearing you appreciate what they’ve given.

Time is a valuable commodity because it is in very short supply for many. Be sure to respect what people give. It is a donation of great value. Following these steps will increase attendance and attention at the meetings you choose to lead, and will free up more time with your family for Dancing with the Stars.

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Oh no! Was I Lumbergh? 

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