Look for me on the police blotter.

Sometimes I’m not such a nice person.

Take last week, for example, when I came THIS CLOSE (imagine my thumb and forefinger mere millimeters apart) to grabbing three pastors by the necks and knocking their heads together. I did manage to keep myself from inflicting grievous bodily harm. But I was seriously close.

Here’s what happened: I was around the table with a city-wide leadership group I’m a part of. We’re working on a grant so that we can continue to train more people for better leadership in 2016. My co-worker and good friend graciously took on the task of writing the initial draft of the grant. We were gathered to look at the big-picture content of what he wrote, and to make sure he’d captured what we’d discussed in a previous meeting.

Note the words “big-picture content.” That purpose was made very clear, in so many words, by the person running this meeting.

Three people (who just happened to be three of the four pastors in the group) out of our team of nine were unable to grasp this concept. Over and over and over again they wasted our time with nitpicky, proof-reading-type corrections and suggestions for “better” words. Oh, and they obsessed over the word counts attached to each question on the grant form.

Silent scream.

See, I have some experience with writing, critiquing, editing, re-writing, and writing to a word count.  A few of the people around the table knew this fact. Most did not. And I wasn’t going to be the guy who’s all like “I’m the expert here. Let me take care of this.” I hate that guy.

But OMG, I could so easily have throttled those three pastors because they Could. Not. Shut. Up.

My co-worker and I had planned to do the final wordsmithing and word counting once we’d gotten the feedback of the group on the BIG PICTURE CONTENT. Because not only do I have all that editorial process experience, he was a journalism major and his first career was in TV news, for Pete’s sake. He knows how to write and how to edit. He and I both know that you can’t write a final draft in a group of nine people AND that you don’t think much about word count until you’ve got the necessary content finalized.

So there was that aspect of the situation that was killing me.

The other issue is that I don’t have the reverence for “called and ordained” pastors that a good Lutheran is supposed to have. I’ve witnessed first-hand what seminary education looks like, and I’m not impressed. Therefore I’m also not particularly impressed with a person just because he or she is ordained. I know two out of three of these particular pastors, and they’re okay. I’m sure they know a lot of pastoral, theological stuff that I don’t know. But I know quite a bit about writing that they don’t know.

Thankfully, the deadline for the grant is a week away, and we don’t have time for any more meetings of that large group before we submit our proposal.

That deadline may be the only thing standing between me and a charge of assault and battery.


6 thoughts on “Look for me on the police blotter.

  1. I’m rarely afraid to blurt out. Let me rephrase that… I rarely hold it in and keep my thoughts in my head… they usually fall out of my mouth like oral diarrhea. After that, yeah. I would have knocked their dang heads together.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds very frustrating. I’d be really annoyed with the pastors too, although I’d probably be even more annoyed with whoever was running the meeting but was incapable of redirecting them as many times as necessary on “We’re not here to discuss word count or grammar. We’re here to address content. Are there any ideas from last time that blah blah blah?” It also would have been good for that person to mention the experience you and the journalism dude have, since it’s a task group setting where people don’t know each other’s skill sets well enough to know what they can leave up to someone else. If you need to do similar work with this large group again, maybe you could give the leader a nudge ahead of time, about explaining what skills some of you have, that are the reason you got the writing part of the job.

    Then again, no matter how much redirecting is done, some people do seem truly incapable of seeing the forest for the trees. And these guys sound like they couldn’t see the forest for the pine needles.

    I don’t think it has anything to do with being suitably impressed by ordained pastors or not. They’re specialists in one field, yes, but writing/journalism isn’t it. My pastor has no problem with the idea that the English professor in our congregation is a better person at wordsmithing than she is, and that’s exactly the way it should be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, the thing that made it all even more frustrating was that several of us did keep saying “let’s move on and really focus on the big picture here.” Cloth for ears, these people had. But I had a great time over coffee this morning griping over the experience with my friend who is doing the grant writing. Misery loves company!


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