Friday, March 21, 2014

Why I'm OK with a Fairly Large Number of Mediocre Talks in Church Meetings

I've had great church meetings, really good ones, good ones, mediocre ones, bad ones and really bad ones - probably on a fairly standard bell curve. (meaning that most of them have been in the middle categories)  I've had more that were a variety of multiple designations (and occasionally pretty much all the designations) than could be classified in only one way, since most of them involved multiple speakers, multiple topics and multiple speaking abilities. I've heard more mediocre-great talks than bad-horrible talks - and the ratio probably isn't very close, even if there were more mediocre-really good talks than great talks.

I view it kind of like I view my high school classes and the blessings I've given in my life:

I'm willing to put up with the bad and the merely good in order to experience the great and the paradigm-altering -- even if the ratio is 9:1 or higher. I don't expect a better ratio, so I'm not disappointed - at least, not in the aggregate. My mind still is blown occasionally by an incredible talk, even after over 40 years in the Church, and, often, it is by someone whom I would not have expected to blow me away.  It not only is a mind-blowing joy when that happens, but it also is humbling in a powerful way - since it illustrates to me again how badly we often judge others

What I'm saying is that we can't expect meetings where lay people speak to be full of amazing talks. We should expect a wide array of skills - and a number of talks that just don't apply or appeal to us. That's not depressing to me in the slightest; it's reality - and it's charitable, which is really important.

I don't have low expectations, overall. I don't mean to imply that in what I've written.  What I mean is that I don't expect mind-blowing, superb discourses most of the time, so I'm not disappointed when it only happens occasionally.

Just to illustrate my point a bit differently:

I am a very good public speaker. It's a strength and a natural gift. Most people aren't like that, and the only ways to change that are to give them chances to learn. So, I put up with "merely good" talks most of the time and thoroughly enjoy the ones that rock my spiritual world.

Having said that, I know people who weren't inspired much by talks I've given, despite my natural ability in that area. I don't think it's depressing that they have to accept me as a speaker to experience the ones that really stir their souls.


Jana said...

You often post about talking in Sacrament meeting, and I really value what you have to say about it. In that light, I have been asked to speak on Easter Sunday this year.

I've been praying about inspiration on what to say.

But that said, what would you focus on in an Easter Sunday talk?

Papa D said...

Hi, Jana. I wrote a post back in 2008 that is a recap of a talk I gave on Easter. It was written with a particularly unique situation in mind (described in the post), and the actual talk begins with, "By all objective measurements . . ." Search for the title, "It Is Finished: Death on Easter Sunday".

I also LOVE the following quote from Elder Wirthlin's General Conference talk in 2006:

"Each of us will have our own Fridays--those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.

But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death--Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.

No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or in the next, Sunday will come."

Finally, I also wrote a post about the cross around Easter 2012 entitled, "He Is Not Here, for He Is Risen: Why We Should Embrace the Cross".

Feel free to read those posts, if you want to see how I approach talking about Easter.

Jana said...

Wow, my heart just opened with a flood of the Spirit reading that quote. Thank you for directing me to your posts! I will read them tonight :)

Many thanks!