How did you feel about opening your report cards? Looking at your college grades? Your yearly review at work?
Despite being a good student, I was always apprehensive that somehow the reality of my schoolwork wasn’t what I expected. My reviews were even scarier, perhaps because my work did not involve consistent feedback like homework and tests did, so I felt totally unprepared for what I would hear.
I remember reviewing someone I supervised in a work situation. The process involved her own assessment of her work and then mine. Her perspective of herself shocked both my supervisor and me because of the extremely high marks she gave herself. When we discussed the gap between her self-evaluation and mine during the review, she didn’t handle it well because she was blind to her own weaknesses, even after I gave her specifics.
Her problem is common—we are all blind to the perspectives of others to some extent or another. We cannot honestly and objectively determine whether we are meeting our goals for ministry; we must have outside help from those who have experienced it.
I still feel scared and uncertain when I put an evaluation of my ministry work out there. Knowing that it is possible that I will find my efforts unproductive, it is much easier to ignore the truth than to face it. There are always some who like what we do and others who don’t, and it is difficult to focus on the overall results when there are criticisms, even just a few. I have to force myself not to dwell on the negative comments, particularly when they concern me personally.
When Jesus sent out disciples, they reported back to him upon their return and received feedback (Luke 9:10; 10:17-20). Paul and Barnabas gave an account of their missionary journey to the church in Antioch upon their return (Acts 14:27-28). Good ministry involves being responsible to others and God. Who better to give feedback than the people involved—both those doing ministry and those being ministered to? Once we have that, discussing the results with a team or supervisor is essential for our personal growth as well as the success of the ministry.
Don’t be afraid of the results but trust God to use them to sharpen you and your ministry and be grateful for those who give their honest feedback.
If you need help preparing an evaluation, our next blog post will cover the essentials. If you need our help, don’t hesitate to contact us through this website. (The button is at the top right.)