Several months ago, I posted four entries about the importance of not wasting the time of an assembly of people–large or small– when you are given the opportunity to speak to a group.  However, when we find ourselves stuck in a meeting where the speaker is either unprepared or unconcerned about the time she may be wasting, I find that my attitude can make the difference between a lost hour and a creative opportunity.

A good friend carries Scripture verses that he pulls from his pocket to memorize whenever he finds himself bored during a sermon or teaching.  An Air Force Major, who is also a Bible study teacher, regularly prepares his next Bible teaching during the Sunday morning sermons.  These are creative and, depending on the level of boredom, can be beneficial ways to deal with the lack of preparation of another person. 

Yet, there are other techniques that could be even more valuable.  Again, attitude is the key.  First, I try to check my attitude the instant I realize that I’m in trouble.  I find that attitude is often the key to retrieving my time.  There is usually something that I can learn from the experience. 

I learned more about preaching the Scriptures from a retired college professor who was the most awful teacher under which I ever sat.  I learned more from him than from the many gifted men and women that I’ve had the privilege of sitting under.  I took extensive notes.  I reviewed my notes and I tried to evaluate these notes in a realistic way about what I could learn.

In other situations, I’ve found that a change in my attitude can make the presentation more valuable to me.  I try to stay engaged with the speaker and follow the teaching that she is presenting.  This was a hard lesson for me to learn.  It grew from the fact that week after week I’d emerge from the church disgusted that my time had been wasted while others would stroll from the same assembly happily talking about how much they had learned.  This happened more often than I want to admit.  Finally, I realized that my attitude needed to be amended.

There are five things that I find greatly enhance my ability to learn.  These are rudimentary; but I find I need to review them often.

  1. Arrive early and be prepared to learn. 
  2. Sit as close to the front as possible.
  3. Bring a Bible and the equipment needed to take notes. 
  4. Sit up straight in my seat.  Leaning forward in an attitude of expectation helps me.
  5. Take notes.

Of course, after menopause and lots of sleepless nights, my biggest problem with poorly prepared presentations is simply staying awake.