Feedback, The Breakfast of Champions
I definitely don’t have the stomach to be a boxing champion. I’m not talking about my amazing abs of steel (stop laughing and keep reading). I’m talking about the diet some athletes insist on for breakfast. RAW EGGS. Evidently, eggs lose a lot of their nutritional value when cooked. Setting aside the obvious health risks, I just don’t think I could do it. Putting a cold, slimy, egg down my throat would probably make me gag, perhaps throw up.
Unfortunately, many church leaders feel the same about a critical ingredient for a thriving church and growing leaders. Ken Blanchard once said, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” And like raw eggs, feedback can be tough to swallow. In the closing paragraph of last week’s post entitled, “Johari Window for the Local Church” I promised to share some thoughts on how to deal with our Blind Spots. I would like to suggest that getting great feedback can be a big key.
Why Feedback is Tough to Swallow
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but here are a few reasons why we prefer our eggs cooked rather than raw.
- People Can Be Rude.
You know what I mean. Sometimes people will give you feedback and by the time they are done you feel like a squashed bug. Who wants that?
- People Don’t Get It.
Many times, when people share feedback they don’t have the bigger picture in mind. This can sometimes make their input seem irrelevant. What’s the point?
- People Won’t Tell The Truth
We know there are things we are doing that could use some adjusting, but we don’t know what they are (they aren’t called ‘blind spots’ for nothing). The problem is, nobody wants to tell us either. They know that raw eggs are yucky and really don’t want to be the ones feeding them to you!
- We Don’t Want People To Think About It.
We don’t want to ask people to focus on the negatives. It seems like we will just get them into the habit of criticizing things – in fact, we might sort of be ‘authorizing’ them to do so. Who wants yet another self-proclaimed critic?
- It’s Emotional.
It can be very draining to receive feedback. Even when the feedback is helpful, it usually requires some self-evaluation, internal arguments, and eventually a commitment to do things different – which also means more work. Ugh.
- The Truth Can Hurt.
Just because the Bible says, ‘The truth will set you free’, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Often it’s painful and difficult walking through the valley between ‘truth’ and ‘free’.
- We Are Too Overwhelmed.
Feedback usually results in more work. Since we already have several stacks of ‘things to do’ on our desks, there doesn’t seem much of a point to add to the stack.
- We Think We Are Doing Great.
Sometimes we don’t look for feedback because we are ‘blind’ to our need for it. Again, just read the post mentioned above. So we fail to seriously look for feedback. Why do I need people to tell me what I already know?
- We Know We Are Doing Good.
Jim Collins, in his book, Good to Great reminds us that the reason we have ‘good’ hospitals, governments, businesses and churches is simply because we’re comfortable with ‘good enough’ and won’t pursue ‘great’. Because we are doing a ‘good’ job, there’s really no reason to rock the boat and try to do something great.
Why We Need Feedback
After reading the above list, no wonder we don’t pursue feedback very often! Again, referring to Jim Collin’s book, gaining and properly responding to good feedback will pave the road for us to (chapter 4) “Confront the Brutal Facts – Yet Never Lose Faith”.
As church leaders, you understand more than most how important it is for Christians to understand the Truth of the Gospel. Paul talks quite a bit about making sure people aren’t hearing lies and distortions of the Truth. You are passionate about communicating the Truth to your congregations! You know that long-lasting change is very difficult to find without Truth being revealed first. When you equip them with what they need to know, you empower them to become who God has called them to be.
The same holds true for your church. Until you are ‘in the know’ about every aspect of your ministry, you can’t effectively plan to improve and become all God intends for you. Example: If I were your tennis coach and I noticed that you swing the tennis racket wrong, you will probably never play in the big leagues until I share that feedback (truth) – which then empowers you to make a change.
So why do we need feedback? Answer – to EMPOWER us to pursue meaningful, long lasting change.
In an upcoming post I will summarize my ideas on how to ask for, receive, and utilize feedback. Stay tuned!
Image from jsmith on istockphoto.com
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