What Does it Mean When a Preacher Checks His Watch?

Years ago one of my mentors stood up before a group of 100 or so pastors and lay leaders, took off his watch, and laid it on the podium. He then posed the question "What does it mean when a preacher checks his watch?" Before anyone could respond he answered his own question, "absolutely nothing." If a preacher takes off his/her watch and lays it on the pulpit one would think the proclaimer was keeping track of the time so as not to go over the 15-20 minute allotment. Not so. Most preachers LOVE microphones. Seldom will any public speaker, clergy or lay person alike, relinquish the microphone before their alloted time has droned its way into overtime. Ask someone to do a 3 minute children's moment in worship and you will get a 7 minute piece. Ask someone to speak for 5 minutes at a funeral and you will get 12. Take the microphone into the congregation or audience with the invitation "Anyone have a story they would like to share about our friend?" and the moderator better not relinquish the handle of that microphone, lest he/she may never get it back. What is wrong with us? What about "You have 5 minutes to speak" makes the speaker think "She really means 12, not 5?"

I am not in favor of being rude however a friend and peer was leading a group recently where I was a participant. Another member of our group raised his hand as a request of the chair, my friend, to call on him to speak at the microphone. We all groaned knowing the man who desired air time was good-hearted but not afflicted with the disease of self-awareness. My friend must have had his own concerns because, as chair, he said "Bill, I am going to call on you but I need to warn you that in this meeting you are close to using up your word quotient."

Say it in as few words as possible and remember the wise words of yet another leader of our church who explained to our class "He who lets the class go early shall be called blessed."