Kent Bernhardt: Till we meet again, and again
By the time I finish this little essay, I’ll be due at a meeting at my place of employment. I’ve attended hundreds of such meetings through the years, and if i were to examine them all under a microscope, each one would look pretty much the same.
Meetings are a necessary evil of the workplace, a place where minds come together to wander.
There are several standard requirements of meetings here in the south. There must at the very least be coffee, preferably caffeinated to ward off slumber.
I can recall meetings of the past when someone had the presence of mind to bring in a dozen doughnuts to compliment the coffee, but as waistlines expanded that practice diminished. Nowadays, we’re lucky to get bottled water.
I appreciate the talents of people who know how to organize and conduct meetings well. They prepare an agenda with specified amounts of time designated for each topic, and they run a tight ship. Meetings end on time, and there’s a feeling of actual accomplishment.
Unfortunately, those people are as hard to find as a TV remote in a sofa. They have been replaced by people with lax organizational skills who love the sound of their own voices and are easily distracted, meaning that a meeting that should last under an hour will probably stretch to three. Days.
I once heard a company official begin a meeting by saying “So, how’s everybody doing today, and why are we getting together?” If you’re in charge of the meeting and that’s your opening line, then why indeed.
Church meetings can often be the most trying of meeting experiences. They begin with prayers for calm, understanding, and focus, followed by discussions that are often tense, misunderstood, and all over the map.
Then, just as you’re closing in on the finale of the meeting and plotting your escape, someone will want to share an issue the Lord laid upon their heart, and suddenly you’re locked into another two-hour discussion about the color of the drapes in the fellowship hall.
I don’t mean to dismiss the importance of meetings. They are necessary gatherings of dedicated leaders who would most likely prefer to be someplace else. Yet, here they are, gathered for a purpose and wondering why no one brings in doughnuts anymore.
Without them, little progress would be made in the world. And the drapes in the fellowship hall would never be replaced.
But, dear Lord, give us people who can keep meetings on point. Send to us leaders who have read Robert’s Rules of Order and know a thing or two about how to end one short discussion and begin another.
And grant us the miracle of a meeting that ends on time. If that not be thy will, then send to us a fire alarm or brief earthquake that will empty the building anyway, sending us to our homes where we belong.