Trusted advisors

(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.

David wrote,

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.