Jeff Mikels » May 30, 2006

Daily Archives: May 30, 2006

Church Planting Leadership

How to Offer Constructive Criticism

Here’s something I learned from my recent meeting with a church consultant—nothing that he taught me, but some things that I perceived in the way he handled the meeting with me.

One of the most important things a person in leadership can learn is how to offer constructive criticism to an employee or coworker or even a boss, but this is even more important a skill for spiritual leaders. Spiritual issues are touchy and personal, and they touch on the very core of a person’s character. Therefore, offering someone criticism about spiritual matters is a very difficult thing to do. This consultant did an excellent job with me, and so I’m sharing the process here for you as well as for my own future reference.

How to Offer Constructive Criticism

  • Describe the general source of the critique. I did interviews with 40 people and at least 15 people mentioned a specific complaint.
  • Describe the specific complaint without generalizations. They said you wouldn’t do visitation.
  • Ask for feedback from the listener. Where do you think that idea came from?
  • Give a specific context, a specific example, and name a specific person whom the listener trusts. [name] said that when [event] you [action].
  • Interact with the listener again on that point.
  • Describe a specific new behavior to employ from the perspective of that person. People need the physical contact and your actual presence to know you care.
  • If necessary, give one example of how the new behavior makes a difference. When [person] faced [a similar situation] [action] and the end result was [result].
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Front Page My Spiritual Life

What’s Wrong with Me? — Follow-up

I just thought I’d write a follow-up to my previous blog…

The church consultant had just a few things to tell me:

  1. The problems at NWBC were there long before I ever came, and in no way did I cause them.
  2. My leadership was such that many of the problems that were “under the table” were brought to the surface.
  3. There is nothing that I or anyone else could have done to turn the church around without the drastic process of a complete restart.

He told me that he had clearly communicated these three points to the leadership team of NWBC as well as the Executive Director of the Midwest Baptist Conference.

Therefore, the concerns he had about me were in no way related to the results at NWBC, and that alleviated my fears quite a bit.

He told me that he had done 40 interviews, and one theme came up in about 15 of those interviews while another theme came up in just about all of them.

Some people had mentioned that I wasn’t willing to do any visitation or personal pastoral care. Along with this, some gave specifics of why they perceived me to be insensitive in some way or another. I had failed to make personal face-to-face contact with them in response to certain events in their lives that I would have known about from prayer requests printed in the bulletin.

The consultant and I talked about that for a bit, and he basically told me that making personal face-to-face contact is a necessity for demonstrating to people that you care. I’m cool with that.

The second theme was that nearly everyone said something like I was stubborn or unwilling to change my mind. On that point, the consultant told me that he wasn’t really sure where it was coming from, and he didn’t even have any specifics to tell me. We talked about it a bit, and my own conclusion is that I am very firm on certain principles, and that can be perceived as a general stubbornness if there isn’t the personal connection with people to help them feel comfortable enough to really talk with me about challenging issues.

The bottom line is that I need to

  • Make an extra effort to build relationships through being physically present with people rather than relying on phone calls, emails, letters, or even church programs.
  • Make an effort to draw closer to people who are my antagonists rather than pulling away from them. If I withdraw from them, they will find other (more damaging) outlets for their frustration.
  • Initiate opportunities for me to listen to others so that they begin to see that I really am open to talking about things and even to hear them challenge me on issues. I need to initiate those discussions to establish that the open door really is open to them.

I can do those things.

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