The Incessant Talker Is Approaching You
An Excerpt from Help! I’m a Pastor
by Steve Backlund
Pastor Vair E. Fair values interaction and input from people in meetings he leads. It usually has gone well in the past, but that was before Don Dominator started attending his church. Don has a very powerful personality, and he loves to talk. It is not unusual for him to go on ten-minute verbal marathons at home groups and in meetings – often taking the conversation off topic. Also, Mr. Dominator always seems to be the first person to speak in any group setting. People like Slowie Processor and Moses Stutterer never seem to get a word in when Don is in the room. If you were Pastor Fair, what would you do?
LIES ASSOCIATED WITH THIS SCENARIO:
- People who talk too much cannot be a significant part of the church.
- There are no solutions concerning someone who loves to talk.
- If someone does not talk much, it means they have nothing important to say.
- I do not have the ability to lead meetings if there are strong personalities there.
LIFE AND LEADERSHIP CORE VALUES TO CONSIDER:
- I build a culture of feedback in my ministry that I lead by example.
- I proactively anticipate challenges that could occur in the future.
- I pursue relationships with the strong influencers in places I am called to lead.
- I believe people’s negative qualities are usually immature characteristics of
- positive qualities in their life.
- I help people understand how their behavior impacts others.
DISCERNING WHAT GOD IS DEVELOPING IN ME:
- I am learning how to lead small group meetings at a higher level.
- I have the opportunity to discern in a higher way how to have freedom without the same people dominating a meeting.
- I get to grow in inspiring and connecting with different personalities.
QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE TAKING ACTION:
- Is Don aware of his tendency to excessively talk?
- How much training do we provide our leaders on leading small group meetings?
- Is this situation exposing insecurities in me regarding me being a strong leader?
- What can I learn from experienced small group leaders?
- How can I structure meetings to avoid long-winded talkfests?
PRACTICAL STEPS TO CONSIDER:
1. Improve your leadership training on how to lead small groups – Small group leadership training is a must for healthy experiences in these groups. This training should cover topics such as planning, building trust, nurturing growth, growing a leadership team, delegation, handling common problems, etc. There are many books and online resources to help with this. Also, it is good to have all small group leaders meet once or twice a year for a refresher training and to share with each other what is working and where they need help.
2. Partner with the strong influencer to improve meetings – One of the best strategies with any challenging person in group settings is to ask the person to partner with you to help the meeting flow better. This sends an “I need you” message to the person and helps him or her see the bigger picture. “Don, I love your enthusiasm to participate at such a high level in our small group. As you can probably see, people like Slowie and Moses don’t share much. I want so much to help them grow in their confidence to share what God is giving them. Would you help me?”
3. Learn how to decrease the likelihood of people regularly dominating meetings – This can be done by: a) giving ground rules for what sharing will look like – “Keep your comments to two minutes or less,” b) If the dominating person keeps talking, interrupt him as they catch their breath and say, “That’s a good point. Slowie, what do you think?” c) If he interrupts someone who is talking, hold your hand up and say, “Sorry, Don, Moses was talking first.” Turn to Moses and say, “Moses, now what were you saying?” d) Meet privately with the talker after the meeting to share in love what you saw happening and why you did what you did. Note: we need to be secure in our leadership. Our goal is not to prove to others we are a good leader but to actually believe we are a good leader.
- My leaders and I are skilled facilitators of small group meetings.
- I really help incessant talkers know how to succeed in small groups.
- I am able to successfully lead different types of people.
ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.