What do I do if I disagree with a decision being made in business meeting?

This is part of a series called “answers for a small-f friend.” These articles are deliberately simple, informal, and under 200 words…the kinds of answers that I might give casually over a cup of lemonade. 

If you’re wanting to go deeper, I recommend Faith and Practice (any yearly meeting’s version) or Quaker Process for Friends on the Benches by Mathilda Navias. If you’re a video person more than a text person, try the QuakerSpeak series, available online.

Do you have a question I should add? Let me know in the comments.

What do I do if I disagree with a decision being made in business meeting?

Friends believe communities can determine God’s will better than individuals alone. That means we’re committed to trusting the community’s discernment.

Sometimes in business meeting, we feel the group is off track. When that happens, it’s our responsibility to share our perspective. “This is my sense of Spirit’s leading.” Once we’ve shared, it’s like we’ve put a puzzle piece down in the center of the room. That perspective no longer belongs to us.

When everyone has shared—put down their puzzle piece—we look at the whole thing together. Which direction seems right? Sometimes “right” is what the majority of voices have said. Other times it’s obvious to the group that the right thing to do is what only one person said. 

“Sense of the meeting” is not consensus. We don’t have to agree with the decision. We are only asked to affirm what the group’s leading appears to be. And because we are practicing corporate discernment, we trust the group’s sense of God’s will over our own individual sense.

This goes wrong if the group isn’t really listening vulnerably. But generally, the individual’s job is to give their piece, then look for sense of the meeting as a whole.

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