I have an important new Church calling that carries with it a nearly sacred responsibility. As my mother reads this she’s thinking; “It’s about time.” On the other hand, my siblings are wondering if the guy who used to eat oranges to make his saliva sticky and then sit on their chests to see how long a spittle string could get before breaking off on their face, is worthy of any calling—ever.
But it’s too late, the task is mine to magnify and I intend to do my best. When the position first became available I felt a little guilty for aspiring to hold such an important position but my carnal nature took over and I knew that I had to have this assignment. No one could do it as well as me. After all, I’ve spent over 40 years developing the skills that made me the best choice for the job.
What is this almost important assignment that I’ve been entrusted with? It’s Elder’s Quorum Timekeeper. I know that it may not sound as impressive as Sunday School President, but it’s still important. My responsibility it to make sure that Priesthood meeting ends on time, and I intend to magnify the heck out of this calling. If I live right and keep the big commandments, maybe we can even end early—oh the blessings!
You may wonder what makes this calling so dang important? It’s important because the least of the Saints (me) can only tolerate so much preaching. After I’ve reached 10,800 seconds of Sabbath preaching I need to see some sports on TV. After three hours in the pew, to paraphrase Bro. Kimball, “Don’t try and make me good, just shoot me.” That’s J. Golden, not Spencer W.
When I’m teaching (a mistake that someone regrets monthly) it’s easy to magnify my calling. I just look at my watch a lot and then say; “Well, that’s all I have unless someone wants to bear their testimony about the principle we’ve studied today.” After a few moments of gaze avoidance, we have a prayer and go home—on time.
The tricky part of ending a meeting on time comes when someone adulterously enamored of their own wit and wisdom is teaching (you know who you are—no, no you don’t). Trying to get one of these guys to stop on time is like trying to keep bees from honey, gum from the hair of a three-year-old or girls from a mission homecoming. It’s dang near impossible. However, I have developed some techniques that may work in your own ward.
First and easiest is the watch glance. Start subtly five minutes before the meeting is scheduled to end and escalate every minute thereafter. Some theatre training will come in useful here as the fifth time requires a shirt-sleeve roll-up, full arm extension, and watch to the eyeball salute. That usually works.
If the watch glance has failed several weeks in a row you need to escalate to tactics like talking to you neighbor as if the meeting had ended, calling your wife on the phone to discuss dinner, or my personal favorite, praying. Praying? Yes, prayer. Within my three-hour learning tolerance I learned about the efficacy of prayer. Here’s how it works; once time is up, raise your hand as if you’re asking a question. When acknowledged, rise and offer the benediction. I guarantee a punctual meeting ending.
I learned this tatic in college. In this particular congregation the monthly testimony meeting routinely ran 30-45 minutes long. Undoubtedly there were some in the congregation who thought it was spiritually spectacular to run that much past the scheduled conclusion—Needless to say, I wasn’t one of them (can you say Telestial material?). One Sunday I had been asked to offer the benediction and so at 30 minutes past time I got in the testimony line determined to instead offer the benediction and hastily depart. Unfortunately, no one got in line after me and so I waited for the hymn.
The Bishop is probably still wondering why I got in line so early if I was only offering the prayer. I never told him why, but I’d have done it. After all, there were sports on TV and I was over quota.