Can I Learn to Love Evaluation?

Aaron left this question on a recent post:

I’ve found it difficult at times to be in a mindset that is ready to accept encouragement and critique after a “big event.” I realize that a large part of this is my own pride and desire for everyone to like what happened and move on. However, I am often so drained and spent after an endeavor like a conference or a Christmas musical that I don’t even want to think about it anymore. Is this a symptom of focusing on the event more than Christ? Is there a way to get through the “big events” in church life without losing your focus on Christ and still be excited about your job after the event is over?

I smiled when I read this because I’ve experienced what Aaron is talking about so many times. For years, I’ve had the privilege of working with senior pastors who recognize and appreciate the value of review and evaluation. Each year as we return to a similar event, they pull out their notes from last year and make improvements.

I’ve usually only had problems with this approach when I’ve played a major role in the planning or execution of an event. Then, surprisingly, it becomes all about ME. Here are some thoughts I’ve found helpful in learning to love the evaluation process.

1. Start by thanking God for all the ways he DID work.
I can’t always control when people give me evaluation, but it’s always a good idea to begin with drawing attention to the way God blessed the service. Take time at the start of any evaluation to highlight specific ways people were encouraged, things went well, and the name of Jesus was exalted. “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds”
(Psa. 9:1).

2. Look for ways God has worked through others.
When I’m actively looking for evidences of grace in other people, I have less time to be concerned about myself. Rather than waiting around for others to tell me what a great job I did, I aggressively look for others to thank and encourage for their contribution. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others”
(Phil. 2:4).

3. Cultivate a heart to serve and bless, rather than wow and impress.
My response to evaluation often reveals my motive. If I want people to say “This is the most incredible service we’ve ever had!” then I’ll fear, ignore, or reject any comment that suggests it wasn’t. If I want people to see Christ more clearly and love him more deeply, I’ll want to hear any comments that would help me do that more effectively. “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1Pet. 4:10).

4. Make your own list of what could be better.
I’ve started taking my own mental notes during “big events” of ways things could be better, and I’ll write them down as soon as I’m able. I’ve just seen the value of having notes I can refer to after a meeting. I’m probably like most people in that I quickly forget what went wrong, and end up making the same mistakes next time. “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”
(Prov. 21:5).

5. Be aggressive in seeking evaluation from others.
After most events in our church, the person in charge of the event typically sends out an e-mail to everyone on staff asking for their input and evaluation. You may want to be the one to bring it up at a follow-up meeting. Just ask, “Any thoughts on how the service/event could have been better?” It makes it much easier for people to suggest changes when they’re asked. It takes humility, but isn’t that what the Savior came to produce in us? Don’t we want to be more like him? Won’t it bring us joy to know that we’re serving God’s people more effectively? “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates reproof is stupid”
(Prov. 12:1).

6. Rejoice that Jesus makes our best and worst offerings acceptable to the Father.
Finally, remember that no matter how flawless the transitions, how in-tune the vocalists, or how impressive the arrangements, all of it is stained by our sin apart from the atoning work of our Savior. We’ll never have the “perfect” meeting. All our offerings are made “acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5).

Over the years, I’ve learned that the less I’m concerned about how I look and the more I’m concerned about how Jesus looks, the more I enjoy the process of leading a meeting or putting together a special event. If you’re in a leadership role, I pray that you find God’s grace more than sufficient to consistently seek ways to improve what you do, for the glory of God and the good of his church.

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3 Responses to Can I Learn to Love Evaluation?

  1. Nicholas Cardot December 22, 2006 at 12:36 PM #

    Great advice!

  2. Higher Place December 23, 2006 at 9:22 AM #

    The last paragraph is the deal! We do need to be most concerned how Jesus looks. That does involve us, our presentation, and so forth, but mostly it is how we love and serve one another – and the heart with which we make our offering to Him.

  3. Stephanie December 26, 2006 at 4:15 PM #

    Wonderful, wonderful post. Thank you for reminding us that it is about Christ, His work, His glory. So many times when I do my work, it is for the glory of man, and my indignation on not being as recognized for my “faithful” and “selfless” service is terrible. Thank you again for the reminder.

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