Long days. That sums up my entire week at an annual meeting that I attend. Don’t get me wrong, I’m invigorated by that week every year and I walk away with a lot of new knowledge and I get a lot of great work done. But, man, at the end of the evening, I’m ready to crash.
Except, a funny thing happens every night at these meetings. Many attendees gather, after a long days work, at the bar, restaurant, or just in the lobby. What do they do? Talk. And talk and talk and talk.
I am not an evening person. If I had my way, I would go to bed at 9pm every night. But something strange happens to me when I attend meetings with great leaders from across the country. I don’t want to go to bed. I want to stay up and talk with them.
Well, for how great the meeting during the day was and how much was accomplished, I find that the most valuable time of the entire week are these evening gatherings. No agenda. No tasks to accomplish. Just relationship building.
I learn more about leadership in the church sitting in the lounge with a glass of wine in hand listening to great minds. I’m always curious to find out how other people do ministry across the country. So I ask good questions. I find out what’s working and what’s not working in ministry. I get to know about their family, especially their children. I find out who are some good people to invite to my area to present workshops or seminars. I network and people find out a little bit about how I do ministry back home.
These evening gatherings act very much like my learning lunch.
How can I apply this everyday to my life?
Well, for one, I need to always remember that relationships are always more important then the tasks I have to get done. I can’t tell you how much that pains me to write. I’m a task guy, but I have to take time for relationships.
What does this look like on a daily basis?
When someone comes into my office asking for assistance or needs to talk a ministry question through, I need to not act like it is an inconvenience. It’s my job and a part of my vocational call to respond to the needs of others. If it is truly an inconvenient time, then I need to tell them right away and give them a good time to come back and talk with me. People are not a distraction. People are what I am all about in ministry.
So, stay up a little later than usual to network and get to know people. You’ll find that this is a great time to bond and connect, as well as learn a ton.