Ohhh…how I love Meee-tings!

August 24th, 201512:33 pm @


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“Ohhh…how I love Meee-tings!”

(to the tune of “Oh, how I love Jesus”)

By Mike Shields

meetingsI have had the privilege of sitting through meetings with many of you.  From Mexico to Uruguay, Panama to Argentina, from Springfield to Costa Rica, I’ve gained a reputation as a real fan of meetings.  Some of you may have noticed (and commented to me) that as some meetings progress my eyes become glassy, I gulp a lot of water, and my skin color changes like a colored Christmas tree bulb (red, fading to green, fading to blue… depending on how long I hold my breath).  Sing it with me now: “Ohhh, how I love Meee-tings!”

The truth is, meetings should be important. In my case, I especially like meetings that are crowned with three elements: they respect the time and energies of the participants, they are highlighted by a clear and relevant agenda, and they incite decisive action. (Energy boosted meetings with bowls of peanut mix and M&M’s set out every three seats are also good.) (Thanks, Sherry Boyd.)

It’s my observation that educators love meetings!  We have a culture of meetings. But that may not necessarily translate into a culture of communication or action. Many meetings miss the mark of high aspirations attached to their importance.   Let me illustrate that point with this table concerning what’s said and not said about meetings we often attend:

Verbal

Non-verbal

This will be a brief meeting

My bladder demands an apology, and if this keeps up, my chair will be asking as well.

Yes.  Didn’t you see it the report?

Section II (page 26) 4th paragraph, line 5   ? / ☹

I know we’re spending a lot of time on this.

The Mayans invented the concept of “zero” in a meeting

Yes, it’ decided. But let’s brainstorm anyway.

I feel like Moe hit Larry with Curly’s frying pan.Unless meetings have the elements of respect, relevance and intentionality, there will be frustration, confusion, and inertia.

So let’s talk about this.

Respect  A true educator is truly busy.  With class prep, didactic design, classroom teaching, homework and grading, student consultations, and Meee-tings (sing it now: “Ohhh, how I love Meeee-tings”) Christian educators have a lot on their plate.  Many work at the national level with the top leaders in their countries…in meetings!  Busy people with heavy responsibilities deserve respect for their time, energy, and money that go into the hours dedicated to meetings.

Early in our ministry, Monita and I worked at Summit Church in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Our congregation had inventors, engineers and professionals who worked at the International Research and Development Center for 3M.  They told me that meetings called at the R&D had to have a clear purpose, information had to be clearly communicated before a meeting, and a set time was allocated.  In addition, each meeting had a calculated cost that included the hourly wage paid to each person in the meeting, the use of facilities and resources provided to the participants.  Today an average engineering meeting can easily cost $10,000!

When we call a meeting, it’s important to recognize that our people are also “top gamers”.  We must respect the valuable time, money and human resource each player brings to the table.  Information provided in anticipation of a meeting should be clear, concise, and comprehendible.  Our people deserve it.

In the case of international gatherings, I have often sat in a room and calculated the mere costs of being there.  Flights, hotels, meals, and transportation are big factors.  But salaries, the number of days involved, human energies and the transfer of valuable information is also part of the equation of a good meeting.  Understanding the tremendous investment by our supporters and colleagues to be at a meeting is sufficient motivation to make sure the time really matters.

Relevance  One of the biggest complaints any of us will ever hear about a meeting is its irrelevance.  When the agenda is overloaded with protocol, and time is wasted on reading extensive reports from who knows when or why, things can go south very quickly.

Set an aggressive agenda for your meeting.  Move with the flow.  Energize, recognize, appreciate, and invite participation.  Take care of the prerequisites in a timely and expeditious manner.  Recognize that the opening time period of a meeting is when enthusiasm is at its highest. That’s when creative energies are bustling and people want to be part of the action.  It’s best to set an agenda that capitalizes the important stuff upfront.

I have often seen key people get up and leave for another appointment and the most important point of the meeting has yet to be aired.  Others may not have left,  but mentally they are a ‘wandering and you can’t get ‘em back (especially when the guy next to you has picked out all the cashews and M&M’s and only the broken pieces are left in the bottom of the bowl)(Where are you, Sherry Boyd?)

Intentionality  A good meeting needs to drive toward a focused conclusion.  As each item of the agenda unfolds, be sure to find a way to capsulate the findings or recruit energies for further work.  God Himself set a concise agenda when he called a meeting for Israel in Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD.

There are two words I really like concerning meetings:  intentional and proactive.  We need intentionality related to why we have come together.  What is it we have discovered? Is there a clear direction that can be established to tackle a problem or implement a new and meaningful process?  Will participants walk away from your meeting energized and with clearer vision and understanding of the task?

It’s important to plan for getting desired outcomes with any meeting.  There may not be simple answers.  But clearly there needs to be a focused, intentional effort made by the leader of a meeting to sort through the issues and articulate possible options.  Get people on the same page, or they’ll work from different play books.

And…

Don’t forget to PRAY!  Invite people in your meeting to get up, call on the Lord, and ask for Divine Intervention in the meeting.  Take a couple of moments for intercession at a key time.  Invite the Holy Spirit to come in.  Be intentional and inclusive.  More will be accomplished in a meeting that has a dimension of prayer attached to it than any other technique or dynamic.

And maybe, just maybe, you will sing with me:  “Ohhh, how I love Meee-tings!”