Wednesday, October 21, 2015

When You Shouldn't Invite A Leader to Lunch


If you're going to discuss something that's stressful in the least, don't invite a leader out for a meal to do it.  Even if it's not stressful to you...if you have any inkling -- any feeling at all that the conversation will be such for them, don't ask to meet over a meal. Call them to discuss it, or set a meeting at their office.

Over the years, I've had people invite me to join them for a meal to tell me that they are resigning, stepping down from a ministry, leaving the church, or to pitch a project to me they are doubtful I will support. Perhaps they want to press me for a position or a decision on something they already know I'm not too keen on. If I sense that any of these things are the case, I try to get them to set a meeting that doesn't include mealtimes.

It’s a proven fact that stress affects our digestive system.  

When these types of conversations happen over a meal, I feel pain sometimes as my food is digesting. Meals are meant to be shared in an atmosphere of peace and when it's not so, our health can be affected. 

Maybe people believe sharing a meal together will set an atmosphere to pave the way to my heart. Or if they are asking for something I'm probably not going to say yes to, translation: give them what they want, they believe food will be a good runway to launch their request. Reality is, if they are telling me something I'm not going to be happy about, a soup and salad -- or even chocolate -- aren't going to help the situation. And if they are asking me to do something they sense I'm not comfortable with, I’m going to go the direction God speaks to my heart to go in -- even if I'm in the middle of taking a bite of cake. This is because I live on principle, not by feelings. If I don't believe God wants me to do something, even triple chocolate cake is not going to change anything.

I used to try to finish my meal during one of these stressful times, but I've learned the better option is to take better care of myself. When these occasions come, I leave it sitting there, untouched. And, I wait to eat again when I'm in a peaceful space.

I wondered if I was alone in dealing with this so one day I asked my assistant if she noticed that people invite leaders out to meals to talk about things that will be unpleasant. She remarked that it is common. Her exact words were, “It happens all the time!”  Okay, so I'm not crazy. 

I used to feel utterly trapped when people did this to me, but then I found myself asking why. Why was I the one who was feeling anxiety? Was it because I cared more about the other person's feelings that I continue with the meal? Could it be because at times, they were paying for the meal and I didn't want to seem ungrateful or disappoint?  

So often we damage our health for fear of what others will think, say or do.

Seeking peace comes in different forms and this is one, for me. 

Photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net
 

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