Meetings, Bloody Meetings

The heart rate starts to rise a day or two before. I can feel the anxiety welling up inside me. What will happen? Will someone stand up and challenge me? Will someone make a motion to dismiss me? Will I be asked to compromise Holy Scripture and/or the Lutheran Confessions? Will I be expected to answer a question I can’t answer? Will someone nag me about something I was supposed to do that I didn’t do because I didn’t want to do it or just flat-out couldn’t do it? Will someone storm out in anger and frustration because of me?

Granted, very few of those things have ever happened to me personally. But I’m sure at one time or another, a pastor has had to deal with all those things at a church meeting.

I’m blessed. The congregation I serve does not have many meetings. We do have more Voters Meetings than most Lutheran congregations. But the meetings aren’t that bad. Really. When I left the first few meetings I had here I came home and asked my wife, “Is this how meetings are supposed to go?” They were bloodless. A spirit of mutual concern and charity prevailed. I was expecting 15 rounds with Joe Palooka. I experienced what almost could be called a group hug.

Even though our meetings are peaceful, I still get anxious. One never knows what’s going to happen. All it takes is one bad meeting and the pastor’s service at a particular congregation could be irreparably compromised. I’ve attended too many Voters Meetings (and heard brother pastors describe Voters Meetings) where it’s been the People of God Who Have Signed the Church Constitution v. The Pastor. Sometimes it’s for good, especially when the pastor is purposely derelict in duty or purposely preaching and teaching false doctrine. Sometimes it’s not good, especially when dear sheep spend countless minutes picking on every single flaw the pastor has, or perhaps dictating to him exactly how “we” expect our pastor to be.

And the pastor can’t say no.

And don’t get me started about approving the budget and the pastor’s salary, benefits, etc. Talk about colonies of butterflies in the stomach!

Meetings are a kingdom of the left matter. They are not of the essence of the church. But they are necessary to keep the day-to-day business running smoothly. I know of few people who relish congregational meetings more than the Divine Service, God be praised. I include pastors in that group. We try to get through these things with our sanity intact.

How do I deal with meetings now that I know I have to deal with depression in my life? I remind myself of some very important facts:

The people present at this meeting are dear sheep that Jesus Christ died and rose again to save them from eternal death and give them eternal life.

The people present at this meeting do not wish you bodily harm. Any concerns they bring are not a personal attack on their pastor.

Those are two I can think of right now. Do you have any others? I’m not talking strictly to pastors either. There are probably informed laity who nearly have a panic attack before meetings too. How do you get through church meetings emotionally unscathed?

I could do without meetings myself. But there is one important meeting I cannot do without: the meeting together as pastor and people every Lord’s Day to hear the Word and receive the Sacraments. I cling to that more and more as I grow older in years and wiser in the Office.

KT

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4 Responses to “Meetings, Bloody Meetings”

  1. It’s hard, that’s for sure. I think I might have a bit of PTSD from some of the things I have been though. You are not alone. Just know that even if the worst should happen at one of those meetings, they cannot take your baptism away. It’s nice to cling to that when things get rough, even if it’s just from the noise in your head. Mine seems more like a ticker tape at times- it just keeps running the same things through over and over again.

  2. darkmyroad Says:

    It’s amazing how stressful they can be. However, I’ve also found myself quite pleasantly surprised by meetings at times. It’s helping me to try and not prejudge situations. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

  3. Right you are, DMR. I had a meeting the other night that was pleasant. I was expecting a little tug-of-war, but all was good. It’s all in my head.

    But the gentle readers know that.

  4. I’m a layman & member of our board of elders, and I get the very same types of anticipatory anxiety & “post-game” stress that you describe, particularly when dealing with voter’s meetings or any meetings that go beyond my own board. Even though my own board has never been significantly, you know, *bad* in the 6 years I’ve been on it, but I now that it could be, y’know? And there’s been plenty of conflict external to the board. I thank God my pastor is a good man and a faithful undershepherd…

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