Church people like to give feedback.
It comes from a healthy place. Congregation members share directly because they are speaking the truth in love about something they see in you. Matthew 18 conversations help people get to the bottom of conflict. Sins get confessed. Miscommunicated sermon points get corrected.
If you’re considering vocational ministry or serving in leadership, get ready. You need to be comfortable with feedback.
But just because you’re comfortable does not mean you’re using it as well as you could be. You could be missing out on valuable information and direction that has come your way.
We all have a mental appendix of all the great wisdom we have received over the years. What about the not-so-good stuff? How often have you received the following?
- Advice you didn’t ask for
- A pitched idea (that’s bad)
- Criticism that wasn’t so constructive
- A take on things from a narrow point of view
- What do you do with something like that?
- Smile. Nod. Discard.
Has that ever been your response? I’ve been there and done that.
This is what Sheila Heen calls “wrong-spotting.” Heen authored Thanks for the Feedback, and Thank God for the Feedback, a small group companion guide. Both books offer guidance on turning advice and even criticism into practical learning.
Heen explains that our brains are naturally wired to resist feedback. It’s human nature. We are bombarded with information every moment of our lives. Wrong-spotting helps us triage to reduce the mental strain and see a little more clearly.
Remember the Biblical metaphor of separating wheat from chaff? Wrong-spotting sees a pile of both and decides there’s not enough wheat in there anyways so we toss the whole thing. If we do it enough, we waste a lot of wheat.
Heen says feedback, “could be 90% wrong, but the last 10% could be exactly what you need.”
There’s a grain of truth in every assessment. And in leading the church we should be seeking truth – real truth – anywhere we can find it. Any voice that comes from the body of Christ should not be dismissed. Wrong-spotting can keep us from seeing people and their view points as what they really are – cherished by God.
When in doubt, rely on these words from the book of Proverbs: “Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life” (Proverbs 19:20 NLT). Take it all in and do the hard work of accepting what is true.