monday morning ministry

These are not my children. I borrowed them.

They’ve been seconded for an important Monday morning ministry that required availability in two categories. The first – that they needed to be somewhere at a specific time prior to 9am on Monday morning – in their case, school at 8:20am. Done. The second – they needed to be up for an early morning conversation – not a difficult task for this 15 year old deep-thinker, 14 year old sanguine and 11 year old lover-of-a-good-story. Done.

The ministry requirement is this – to help me fight a debilitating case of Mondayitis.

Although Sundays are my favourite days, they are also my longest and most physically exhausting. The love tank is full but the physical energy is depleted. Then comes Monday morning and we have our review and planning meetings – where I’m called on to bring the creativity, energy and lateral thinking. But more consistently, all I’m really able to bring is the coffee.

After a few challenging meetings, some disappointments in my own attitude and contributions, and just knowing that things were not functioning as positively or helpfully as they could, I was talking it through with a mentor. She encouraged me to consider ways to get myself in a better frame of mind and readiness for the start of the day and week.

Enter this fabulous trio.

The need to have them at school means I arrive at work 40 minutes before my first meeting – rather than 1 minute before (or after!) it starts. I have time to get a few emails processed, sort through things left on my desk and say hello to a few other people in the office. I’m more relaxed, switched on and ready to engage a better version of me.

As an externally processing extrovert, people interaction is what kick starts my engine – especially when I’m weary. Arriving at morning meetings having not actually used my voice let alone had a laugh or shared a moment of human interaction is not a great way to start. These kids ensure many laughs and a whole lot of random chats in the brief trip to the school car park.

And as an added bonus this team has totally adopted their ministry role in my life. If you ask them why I take them to school on Monday mornings they’ll tell you that they help to get my day started well and make me work better. As they get out of the car they’ll often check to see if they’ve made me laugh enough or told enough random stories. Bless them.

Some encouragements for you. Have you reflected on your own responses and best practices to be able to set yourself up to win? Who can you recruit to help you achieve that? And what might your ‘Monday morning ministry’ be? Who could you bless with some practical or emotional support? 


finding your voice in meetings

Have you ever walked out of a meeting with a mouth full of thoughts you didn’t express? Experienced that annoying niggle of disappointment that a decision was made without consideration of your unexpressed opinion? Ever sat in a meeting and felt inadequate to contribute?

Yeah. Me too.

It was only when I started coaching new staff on my team about how to engage in our broader staff team meetings that I became more aware of these behaviour patterns for myself.

Get heard early. 

Nancy Beach in her book “Gifted to Lead” speaks of the importance of hearing your voice in the room and doing that as soon as possible. She suggests that the longer you don’t speak the harder it becomes to speak. She recommends making a contribution early – even if it’s just to greet people or respond to other’s early input – to break the ice and clear the way for your further participation. It’s a great strategy.

Don’t wait to be asked. 

I’ve heard others say (and I’ve been there myself) that they don’t feel their opinion is invited or even welcomed in meetings. Might I suggest that your inclusion in the meeting IS your invitation to contribute. You are rarely requested to attend a meeting so that you can observe it. You’re in the room because you have something to say about the content of the meeting or because you have something to learn from the content. Either way, your statements or questions are expected on the basis of your calendar request. Generally speaking, if you’re in the room it’s because you’re meant to contribute. Don’t wait for a further invitation.

Embrace conflict and humility. 

It’s a well-beaten drum of mine but conflict is an essential component of effective anything! Meetings are certainly no exception. Conflict of ideas will make your team or company stronger and better. But it requires humility to see that happen. Be ready to have your ideas contradicted without taking it personally. They can still like you and disagree with your perspective. An un-adopted idea doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like you so much as they just don’t think it’s the best idea on the table. Don’t let the knock back of one idea prevent you from offering any further ideas.

What about you? What difficulties do you encounter in finding your voice in meetings? What strategies have you or your teams utilised to be more effective at hearing the room and maximising the collective wisdom, creativity and talent of your team?