I found myself in a meeting last week. Fact is, I find my self in meetings often. It's a by-product of being in the profession I've been a part of for over forty-five years. Some folks think that what we preachers do is preach. Others think that what we pastors do is visit the sick and comfort the afflicted. We do do that, and doing that contributes to the sense of place and accomplishment. But the truth is we ordained also go to meetings, lots of meetings.
Just out of curiosity, as I sat in that particular meeting last week, I pulled out my iPhone, tapped the little icon that pulls up the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and looked up “meeting.” It says in that dictionary a meeting is “an act or process of coming together” or “an assembly for a common purpose.”
I can buy into that first definition. I was sitting in that meeting because everyone in the room had engaged in an act of coming together.” It was kind of obvious. I mean we were all there, together. The second definition, however, appears a bit troublesome. I'm not sure I've ever been to a meeting where everyone there came for a common purpose.
At last weeks' meeting, for instance, some of the people came to soak up the information the convenor of the meeting was disseminating. In fact, that was the stated purpose of the meeting. And the convenor disseminate. But there were others there with a different purpose.
One fellow in the meeting last week was there to be seen. He walked into the meeting, not by the side door, not by the read door, but through the door that was directly behind the speaker. We all got to see him. We all observed that he wasn't dressed like the rest of us. While we wore business suits or even more casual slacks and shirts, this late arrival wore wrinkled shorts, a bright t-shirt, and flip flops. We all saw him. He made sure we saw him because he waved to us all as he waltzed to a seat at the end of the center aisle.
Others come to the meeting to impress. These are the people who must have studied up on the issues for which the meeting was convened. As the convenor stands before the group explaining this aspect or that particular angle to the problem, this fellow continually interrupts to “clarify” what the speaker has said. At last week's meeting, I noticed the lady who had come to the meeting for this purpose had a clip board with notes on the floor between her feet. As each issue was addressed, she consulted her notes before “clarifying.”
And there's always the person who comes to the meeting with the obvious purpose of having the last word. If you've ever attended a meeting you've met this person. Things are winding down. The participants are starting to sneak peeks at the watch or phone to see how long this has been going on. The leader then asks, “Does anyone have any question?” Guess what. This person always has a question. There should be a law against anyone ending a meeting by, in effect, asking if anyone wants the meeting to last longer.
I would love to write more about his, after all I am a expert on the subject, but I have another meeting to attend.