At the end of a week-long stretch with no small amount of stress — both professionally and personally — you’d think the last thing I would need would be a 3 1/2-hour church committee meeting.
Much to my surprise, I found myself energized by this meeting, which actually lasted two hours longer than I expected. That’s significant, seeing as I’ve participated in more than a few 15-minute meetings that felt more like 15 years.
As I reflected on our meeting, I was struck by what made it work so well, given that the seven people who participated represented a wide diversity in age and socioeconomic background. I’ll leave aside the actual topics of the meeting, as they are unimportant to the points I want to make here:
- There was no shortage of strong — and differing — opinions.
- Each person argued their points forcefully, without denigrating the positions of others.
- We listened to each other, making a concerted effort to repeat what we understood and to ask clarifying questions if we didn’t understand.
- Our discussion was based on each person’s deep concern about our faith community, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Elkhart.
- We took each topic seriously, but we didn’t take ourselves too seriously. There was plenty of room for laughing and jokes.
Take all of the points above, reverse them and you’ll pretty much have all the reasons most meetings go bad. No wonder meetings get a bad rap.
As we gathered up our belongings, preparing to go our separate ways, some of our group made plans for a (late) lunch, others were on their way to Inauguration Day activities and yet others just wanted to go home to our families. The energy was still palpable.
I couldn’t help but think that our nation’s leaders could have used some of our energy.