This week we will begin unpacking the Seven Commitments. These commitments are meant to be guardrails in creating a safe space for our bandmates. We suggest to read them aloud from the meeting guide during the first several meetings of your band and then return to them monthly. These can also be a helpful way to orient any new bandmates to the kind of culture we are aiming at in the band.
RESPECT THE CLOCK: You have 15–20 minutes to share. Do your best to stick to that timeframe.
Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:30–31)
We live in a world where fewer and fewer people have meaningful personal relationships. In fact, a recent study found that one in four Americans say they don’t have anyone in whom they can confide, and one in two Americans do not have anyone outside their immediate family with whom they can share their troubles or triumphs. Add to this that a whopping 90 percent in the same study admit to downplaying their emotions so they will not worry or burden a loved one. The bottom line is that people are experiencing increasing isolation and loneliness in the culture around us.
With that in mind, the discipleship band is a place for us to have the time and safety to process more deeply what we are experiencing in our lives. This is not intended to be therapy, but rather our giving and receiving undivided attention for the purpose of sharing.
The challenge comes when people who have rarely had the opportunity to talk reflectively about themselves unload too much and talk for longer than twenty minutes. In the event you have a lot you want to share, ask in advance for some extra time so that the rest of the meeting can be adjusted accordingly, whether by extending the meeting or giving the chance for other bandmates to yield some of their time. This is an attempt to, “Give to everyone who asks you.”
While it’s okay to make time adjustments every once in a while, sharing that exceeds the 15–20 minute allotment shouldn’t become a pattern. It almost always comes at the expense of the other bandmates’ time—whether it be their sharing time with the group or their personal time outside of the group. This is why we have this commitment to respect the clock. We respect it out of care for others.
Of course, where there’s a possibility for oversharing, there’s also a possibility for under-sharing. What do you do when someone in your group only shares for a minute or two? This can sometimes give us the sense that people are holding back on us, but I want to encourage you to think differently about that. I was once in a band with an individual whose responses were very brief. I sometimes wondered if he just didn’t have any struggles like the rest of us. What I discovered is that this individual had lots to share, but just did not feel comfortable enough with the group yet to go deeper. This person also admitted that he grew up in a family of people that did not share much about their souls or their struggles, and that sometimes he just did not feel like he had the words or vocabulary to describe it. Over time he identified with others as they shared, and it actually gave him language to describe his own experience. As he grew more comfortable with us, he shared more. All in all, he likely never shared more than ten minutes, but he was on a journey and it was a beautiful thing to watch. Don’t assume that someone’s limited sharing is because of you. Let them bring what they bring.
Lastly, if you happen to be a person like my bandmate who needed more trust and time to open up, take the time you need. It may be helpful for you to journal around the questions once a week. It will help you give words to your internal reality as you feel more ready to share.
Jesus, today as I consider just how lonely so many people are around me, help me to be attentive to the time I can give to others’to listen well, to ask questions that give people the opportunity to share. Jesus, help me embody your loving presence today. Amen.
What is most challenging for you in general, talking too much, or talking too little?
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