There is no other activity that’s good for “absolutely nothing” like calendaring. But as small group ministry leaders who are often thinking about late-summer recruiting, fall-launches, winter-holiday breaks, leader-training, etc – mapping out a calendar with our teams is usually something we are doing and re-doing throughout the year.
When Dances with Wolves hit theaters in 1990, it was an instant hit. People were enthralled with the story and scenery. The main character, John Dunbar, was given the name Dances with Wolves because of this scene where he was “dancing” with a wolf named Two Socks (1). It was an enchanting picture of a man and wolf getting to know one another.
Now we don’t dance with wolves. But we do dance with our calendars. Maybe it’s not that much of a dance as it is a wrestling match. We get pulled like taffy that’s lost its flavor and stretch. Our calendar gets yanked and dragged in all sorts of directions, by all sorts of pressures, and all kinds of people.
Of all the most frequent things we do, scheduling and working with calendars seems like it wastes more time than anything else. No matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, scheduling meetings is just an empty hole that we pour our limited time and energy into.
And the great tragedy about calendaring and scheduling is that it accomplishes absolutely nothing. Yes, things get decided in meetings, things get done in meetings. But scheduling the meeting is exactly like “War” by Edwin Star.
- What is it good for? Absolutely nothing (2)
It sounds oh so simple: all we need to do is get some people to a place (physical or digital) for a period of time to discuss something. I mean, how hard can it be? And then the Scheduling dance begins.
Now I’m not going to tout some great software solution or tell you that there are three secrets to reducing your calendaring time in half. When you hear someone say those things: Run, do not walk, but Run to the nearest exit.
However, here are some tips that can help you and the people you’re trying to get together with.
- Be Sensitive – In their drive to be efficient, some calendar links and invitations feel impersonal and transactional. Additionally, they sometimes make more work for the invitee than the inviter. Think about what’s easiest for the people being invited.
- Be Human – Some people think being sent a bot as dehumanizing. The receiver can think that they are not important enough to communicate with as a human. One idea is to only use calendar scheduling when other people ask to meet with you.
- Be Recommending – Make it about the other people, what works for them, not what works for you. Your language should be deferring, letting the group point the way.
- Be Guiding – Be certain to let people know when a decision or meeting needs to happen by. Offer dates and times where recipients can mark “yes,” “no,” or “if need be”—that is, not ideal, but they could make it work.
Whichever approach and app you choose, think of the people as friends, neighbors, and buddies. Always, always, always treat them with respect and gracious words.
I beseech you, on your part, to show deference to such people, and to everyone who participates in their work and toils hard.
1 Corinthians 16:16 WNT
Chet Gladkowski is the Founder of GLAD Associates, Inc. (a) and author of “Have Yourself a Merry COVID-Christmas”(b). He has also launched National Day of Hope(c). His latest books, Hope is Like Steamed Crabs (d) and Hope is Like Barbeque Ribs (e) are available through Amazon.