Posted by Joseph on Jan 17, 2011 in Leadership | 271 comments
I had the unique opportunity last Friday of preaching three services in a row at Victory U-belt. I say unique because I had an excellent communicator serve as my critic and coach all throughout. I’m talking about Ryan Tan, the youth pastor.
Ryan is a good friend who is very passionate about students, preaching, and doing things excellently. True to form, he gave me very helpful feedback after each session. “Let’s trim down your outline. This illustration is really great. Don’t use that other one. You’re losing us at this point, you gotta do something to get us back.”
Thanks to his feedback, The first preaching was good, but the second one was much better, and the third was the best.
That got me thinking about the importance of getting feedback. The person who is constantly looking for improvement will always be on the lookout for feedback. No experience is wasted when one can learn from it. Even the most embarrassing moment can be turned into a valuable lesson.
Here are some things I’ve learned about getting feedback through the years.
1. You have to want it.
Some people make a token effort of asking others for feedback. They ask, “How am I doing?” But their tone and body language show that they just want a typical “Good.” These kinds if people will never get the juicy tidbits that make feedback helpful.
2. You often have to push for it.
Most of the people we talk to would rather make neutral-positive comments to avoid offense. But the person who wants good feedback will push past that. He wisely knows that there is rarely any ABSOLUTELY PERFECT performance so there must be at least one thing to improve and he won’t stop till he finds it.
3. Surround yourself with sincere people.
Another way to counter the effect above is to hang around the right people. This happens with a combination of finding them and nurturing them. You find them by looking for the fearless kind of people who readily speak their mind. And you nurture them by not biting their heads off or getting defensive when they make a comment. In an environment of trust, even the most timid team member will learn to speak up.
4. Be your own critic/coach.
Listen to yourself. Watch yourself. Do you like what you’re seeing and hearing? If you are already bored or lost by what you’re saying, how do you think others feel? Listening to oneself can be awkward or even painful, but it provides a wealth of tips for improvement.
5. Remember your objective.
One thing that makes this exercise bearable is to focus on the goal. If the goal is to save face or maintain our illusion of perfection, then feedback and evaluation isn’t worth it. But if your goal is greater than that, (Almost any goal at this point would be.) then persist in getting evaluated because it’s one of the surest ways to improve and succeed.
Posted by Joseph on Jan 1, 2011 in Thoughts | 641 comments
My favorite time of the year is over. But that doesn’t have to be a sad thing because Christmas is just a great opening chapter to the greatest biography ever. So the significance, joy, and meaning of the season can continue if you follow the rest of the story.
That’s why I’m not so fond of the idea of portraying Christmas as the end-all season. “THIS is what makes everything okay. THIS is the hope of the world.”
Uh… yeah, but not entirely.
Like that popular Christmas carol goes, singing “That man will live forevermore because of Christmas day,” is like saying:
(introducing my new Choose Your Analogy feature)
A.) That the evil Empire will fall because Luke Skywalker’s Uncle Owen bought some new droids.
B.) That the spread of darkness in Middle-Earth will be defeated because Bilbo went on an adventure.
C.) That the Von Trapp kids will have a new mom because a young nun plays hooky in the mountains.
D.) That there will be a bank run, flying nannies, and dancing chimney sweeps because the Banks kids can’t retain a steady governess.
E.) That Lotso’s criminal empire over a daycare center will end because a little boy named Andy received the latest space ranger toy.
F.) That Solid Snake will become the deadliest agent in all of military history (including you, Sam Fisher) because Big Boss started Outer Heaven in Zanzibar.
G.) That Gotham will have the hero it wants but not recognize the hero it needs because a young couple was mugged outside a theater.
H.) That Jose Rizal would write two nationalistic novels because as a boy he saw a butterfly fly too close to a candle and burn to death.
I.) That Mr. Darcy will make the most radical marriage proposal because the Bingley’s have moved into the county.
J.) That Michael Corleone will become the most powerful mafia boss in the US because a young Vito Andolini was able to escape to New York.
K.) That Elle Woods, sorority girl, will make it to the United States Congress because her boyfriend dumped her.
In other words, that’s the beginning of how it happened, but hardly the whole story. There’s so much more to it after that.
In the same way, Christmas is an inspiring and beautiful chapter of the story of humanity. It speaks of the fulfillment of God’s promise, to send a Saviour to fix our deepest problem of all – sin. Stinking, rotten sin. Touching all of life sin. Leaving nothing unscarred sin. Sparing no one sin.
And like that Christmas gift which goes way beyond what you expected, God didn’t just send anybody to save us, He sent Himself, in the form of Jesus Christ.
So yes, Jesus was born in a manger, and that’s pretty amazing on its own. But the story doesn’t end there. He did a whole lot more things after that. And the effect of all this on you will depend on whether you know and believe the rest of the story. So read up on it this year. You can’t know it enough.