Don’t Make Excuses
I was young and in my first year as a minister of education at a fast growing church. I had scheduled a meeting with some of my adult Sunday School directors on the calendar a couple of months before. It was a big meeting and we were looking at reorganizing our entire adult Sunday School. It had been a busy week for me leading up to the meeting, and as the meeting drew near I wasn’t totally prepared for it. So as the meeting got started, I protected myself by sharing how busy my week had been. I even went into a little bit of detail about it so I could secure their sympathy and also lower the expectations of the meeting.
We got into some of the details of the meeting, managed to make some progress and concluded the meeting about an hour later. As usual, after a meeting like this, people will sometimes stay and talk a little, and there is often a “meeting about the meeting” that takes place. One of my directors lingered until the others were gone and then asked me if I had a moment. We went back to my office where I expected a pat on the back for the progress we had made in reorganizing the church’s Sunday School.
What I got a 2 x 4 right between the eyes!
As we started talking, this director asked me what each of the people who were in the meeting did for a living. Some of the guys in the meeting were businessmen; another was the district manager of a major airline; another was a manager for AT&T; and another man was a lead scientist for the FDA. We talked about their jobs and their families. Then he shared that he went to work every morning at 5:00 and typically did not get home until after 8:00 at night. And that is when he said, “Bob – we’re all busy people. Some of us are even busier than you. None of the people in the room tonight got to where they are in life by making excuses.”
I was caught! Even worse, I knew he was right. As busy as I thought I was, I probably wasn’t as busy as the people who were sitting in the room at a meeting that I had scheduled. It was up to me to be prepared to lead them through that meeting and I had fumbled the ball. What I thought was an appeal to win their sympathy had actually caused me to lose their respect.
Fortunately, this guy had some sage advice for me that I’m going to pass on: When you put something on another person’s calendar, it is up to you to manage your schedule so that you are best prepared for the meeting or event. How “busy” you are is usually something that you have control over. And… lack of preparation is not an acceptable excuse.
An ounce of performance is worth more than a ton of excuses.