Tag Archive: feedback

Mistake Fail Safe

Who’s keeping you from losing your job?

Who’s the person you reach out to and say, “Can I run something by you?”

Last week I was minutes away from publishing a new blog post. And at the last minute, I copied and pasted the content into an email and sent it to a friend. I asked, “As a church member, anything here that says to you, ‘He’d be an idiot to publish this on his blog?’”

He replied, “Yes.”

And I didn’t publish a blog last week. Do you have people who can answer “yes” when you’re on the brink of stupidity?

Now, I thought I had good content for the blog post. And maybe even clever content (I can say this since you’ll never read it). But I asked for borrowed perception and he gave it to me.

Do you have people who can quickly and honestly give you an assessment of something you plan to say, write, or do?

We need people who give us unvarnished feedback.

I’m not talking about accountability partners. We definitely need spiritually mature truth-tellers in our lives to help us remain grounded in scripture and spur us on to godly things. That role is vitally important. But this is a lesser issue, but still one that can keep you from misstepping in your church leadership role.

Who can you text, email, or drop in on when…

…you plan to have a difficult conversation with your boss?

…you’re about to send an email to your team that might not be taken well?

…you’re about to introduce a new element into your worship services?

…you plan to rant about an issue in the public domain of social media?

All major decisions should have a process by which you get input and feedback. But I’m talking about who you can quickly get unfiltered feedback from when you’re not quite sure about your choice. At times, we need an informal and expedited fail safe opinion.

I think we’ve all seen or heard “it.” And when they’re done with “it”, we mutter to ourselves, “They obviously didn’t run that past anyone.”

Don’t be that guy. Don’t be that gal.

These are unforced errors on our part. We need a guy/gal (or better yet a gaggle of folks) who can give perspective on an idea. Who can tell you the email is, “Really good, except for that last sentence.” And someone who’s got the experience to tell us the likely consequences for our action.

Find the people who can help you with a quick opinion. Use them, and avoid these missteps which can hinder the ministry you’re called to do.

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5 Responses to Critiques

I like to read leadership books. What I don’t like is reading about myself in a book and it not being a compliment.

I guess I had delusions of grandeur that if I were to be mentioned in a top shelf leadership book, it would be for some sort of example where I’d been part of something good. But that’s not how it unfolded.

While reading the latest book of an author whose ideas and teachings I respect, I came across an anecdote about a meeting the author had with an executive pastor. As I read further, it became clear to me that he was sharing about an actual exchange he and I had on a previous occasion. The details he recalled (which were a pretty close rendering of the actual conversation) didn’t show me or my leadership in the best light.

What do you do when you read or hear feedback about yourself that’s negative?

If you’re like me, you react. On your best day, you hear it, evaluate its truth, and act accordingly. On your worst day, no matter if its truth, it elicits an emotion that’s likely tied to sin.

Can you think of the last time you heard someone say a critical comment toward you? How’d you feel? And more importantly, what did you do with the critique?

The answer to that last question is what separates average leaders from great leaders.

I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but negative feedback about my work and decisions comes fairly often. I work with and for quite a few people, and they all have opinions.

Sometimes those critical opinions of my work and leadership are expressed well. The “critic” isn’t disparaging me as a person, but is simply giving their opinion on how I did something wrong or made a poor decision. The author I mentioned earlier didn’t go after me as a person, but he captured a trait of mine that admittedly leaves me with a leadership deficit.

I could spend time writing about how I reacted in that situation, but I’ve spent enough time being a book-example-martyr, so let’s talk about how you and I as leaders can respond well to the critical comments that come our way

Respond to critiques by…

Separating from it

Some people need seconds of separation. Some people need days. I don’t know how you’re wired, but you need to know what your separation time needs to be, and then commit to not respond to the critique sooner than you should.

Setting aside the person

I think a lot of critical feedback gets missed because we only look at the person delivering it, and not the content. Some people are jerks. Some people have no concept of what you do. Some people are negative about all things. But that doesn’t mean their critique can’t be valuable in improving how you lead. In your mind, pretend the same critique instead came from someone you trust and who understands what you do. It’s mental gymnastics, but it can be helpful. And when you can play this game in your head, it’ll be easier to see content that’s valuable.

Seeking truth

What if you started with the presupposition that all critique has some level of truth? If you need biblical help to get you there, think, “I’m depraved. Therefore, my leadership is depraved.” What 2, 5, or 50 percent of the critique is true? Pray — seek what the Spirit affirms.

Many times critiques are uninformed or out of context. But even then, there’s almost always some truth in it. Don’t dismiss the little bit of truth just because the critic doesn’t have all the facts.


If you can’t determine if the critique is accurate, take it to someone you respect, and ask a question like, “Someone mentioned to me the other day that in meetings I come across as ‘My way or the highway.’… Have you seen that in me at times?”

If your substantiation process clears you, get the critical comment out of your head and move on. However, if it’s substantiated, move to the next step.

Setting a corrective course

(S)engage it (That’s a silent ‘S’ so I could keep up my alliteration)

First, re-engage the person you “set aside”. Depending on your relationship with them and what you think they can offer, say to them something like: “Your feedback caused me to think, and I’ll keep considering what I need to learn from it.” or something like, “Your feedback was hard for me to hear, but I think you’ve identified something in me that needs to get better. Do you have any thoughts?”

Second, engage the portion of the critique you can control and identify the ways you can make changes. It may be a helpful self-development exercise for you.

If you lead, critique will happen. Some of it will be more justified than others. But the discipline of responding well to critique and engaging with it in a healthy way separates average leaders from great leaders. Average was okay with me in school, but you and I know there’s too much at stake in our churches and in leading others to be average as a leader.

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Receiving Feedback (from those you lead)

How good are you at receiving critical feedback?

How good are you at receiving it from people you lead or supervise?

Would those individuals agree with your answer?

Formally or informally, have you communicated you’re willing to receive critical feedback?

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