(First published September 13, 2013)
“If someone you really trusted evaluated your ministry, how would they say you are doing? What would they suggest you work on?”
That was a question a group of colleagues faced this week. It was a good question. It pushed us to think about our work from the perspective of a friend, someone who we respect, someone who cares about us and for us.
“Not as bad as I think I am,” was one partially flippant response. But it’s way more true than we think. Those that we trust can see what we are doing with a benevolent perspective, looking for our good and the good of our work. They aren’t trying to live up or down to the flawed expectations we often have. They have a view of our behaviors without all the doubts and rationales and excuses we bring.
Often, the ones I trust agree about how I am doing and what I need to work on. They do this without talking to each other. Often, I confess, I am convinced that they are all delusional. That I know better. But you know what? I bet that often they are right. Often they can see what I need to work on … and what I don’t.
King David wrote a poem that invited evaluation from someone he trusted. I read it the same day we wrestled with the question about evaluation, the same day trusted friends gave clear feedback, the day I decided again that listening to the counsel of people looking for your good, is good.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way
A good request, perhaps, for midweek reflection.