If you’ve ever read through the contents of a suggestion box you often find that frank and open feedback you may be looking for as a business owner or manager. They’re popular at restaurants and in retail for that very reason. Suggestions may be collected via a call-in number or website query printed on a receipt instead of a physical box at the front door, but it’s the same sort of thing – one can provide their thoughts and comments on service, products, atmosphere, and even employees. This is valuable information for all sorts of businesses.
Why should we care what other people think?
Ha! Silly question… or extremely relevant?
Jesus didn’t give a hoot what other people thought when he lived here in the flesh. When asked by the really smart people why He was associating with sinners, Jesus replied:
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17
The self-righteous scoffed at Jesus’ stance to their feedback. He loved them just the same as the rest of the sinners. He didn’t care about being popular or what people thought. From that perspective, should we either? Indeed, Jesus told us as followers to prepare for being persecuted for we will be different from most people on earth. Therein lies perspective, or a decision that we have to make:
Jesus came because He cares, but when it came down to living out His purpose, He didn’t compromise to please anyone. (ClickToTweet)
Just think about it: did Chick-Fil-A compromise on their principles when faced with controversy? Not really. Maybe manipulated by the media a bit to distract from the true message: Love your neighbor as yourself. That was it. And I for one remain a Chick-Fil-Anthropist and have gay friends too!
“The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and to influence their actions.” John Hancock
Good advice: stand by your convictions, morals and values whatever the feedback you receive, and when defining your agenda. Sound leadership is on fire like the burning bush or the bleeding volcano, known for a calling that comes from the path to eternal life. Stay true to your path. When Jesus gave feedback to many religious people they didn’t appreciate it because they weren’t looking to be accountable. Indeed, they had their own agenda. They were cold as a tombstone for Jesus’ message, showing up like a grumble or with an anonymous mask on Happy Monday with the masses in dread-locked traffic.
Like your coffee lukewarm? Jesus had words for the lukewarm or indifferent ones too…
“So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:16
I think Jesus was saying lukewarm is distasteful. Yuk!
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” —Theodore Roosevelt
Our culture, at times, seems to accept campaigns of negative odor and even promote the sharing of feedback in a negative light. If you read some online news outlets they even allow anonymous comments. Why? Not sure, really. Maybe they consider it adds entertainment value. The comments are typically brash, more often than not. Freedom of speech, you say? Well, that may be a right in our county, but I’m not so sure that God wants us throwing around opinion (or would that be ridicule?) quite so much. I think it often leads to dissension and disrupts harmony, and thus the mass exodus of distaste for grumbling on social media and for some of our institutions.
So I heard a pastor sharing his thoughts on this, that anonymous complaints typically aren’t worth reading. They typically say more about the sender than the recipient, and often attempt to evoke shame. Some may say, well, that’s just the world we live in.
Jesus was followed by huge crowds in his day but He had to often find solitude to pray. He also moved across the grain, choosing to leave the crowd behind to go to new areas to preach and heal people. Still, the crowd found Him and it would rebuild. One of the many lessons we can learn from Jesus is how sound feedback connects anonymity and accountability.
Ok, so we’re not perfect like Jesus… whether you’re caught up in the drama of being thirtysomething or ready to be martyred as a prophet, we live in the surroundings of The Big Chill of reality in a fallen world (btw, if I just lost you by showing my age, just think Duck Dynasty and A&E – i.e., the prophetic thespians, you get the picture now?). I understand the opiate for the masses (football season) is over, and since this is an election year, we should buckle in for a rocky rant of a ride, or we could simply tune it out. Praise the Lord we do have the Olympics to buffer the near-term mixed weather forecast!
So I had a Facebook friend who was bashing an author (whom he didn’t name) for having a typo in the book he was reading. Several others jumped on the bandwagon. I added a simple comment about how the author would probably value hearing from the reader and that he should share his input and suggestions. I added that if there was any doubt, the reader should pray about it and God may give him the right words to share in the spirit of love and helpfulness. Well, my comment didn’t fit in with the ensuing rant. From there, the social media train wreck of pessimism and complaining about seemingly insignificance seemed to calm the duck down a bit. This, like many more, wasn’t a sincere effort to help a brother out. So why does it happen?
Sound feedback connects anonymity and accountability. The spirit of how to share our opinions tends to hover on two fundamentals:
1. Do we really know Him?
FEEDBACK TENDS TO BECOME LESS CONSTRUCTIVE WHEN WE HAVE ANONYMITY
People feel free to say and at times do things that we wouldn’t do with identity.
“Character is who you are when nobody is looking.” (ClickToTweet)
So our true character is defined by our accountability when we’re acting anonymously. The FB diatribe wasn’t providing valuable feedback in the spirit of loving kindness, more an attempt to attract attention for who knows what reason. Negative feedback is sometimes the most valuable information you will ever receive from a true friend. Our most meaningful relationships are filled with vulnerability and trust (there’s a good book on all that!).
Witnesses add to accountability, and at the same time they unmask anonymity. Try giving more anonymous feedback as if your identity is attached to it. That will help keep the information in check with the loving kindness that Jesus asks of us.
2. What is the end result that WE are looking for?
LOVE (CHARITY) COMES LESS FREQUENT WITH ANONYMITY
Why? Usually because in all of our humanity we like credit for making other people feel good. Try giving more love WITHOUT your identity attached to it. This, to me anyway, speaks of having a servant attitude. And unconditional love.
I had another recent experience with a father not too much younger than me shared that he had decided to be open and authentic (in certain circles) and told us about a heartbreaking situation going on in his home with his teenage children. The group of maybe 10 people were initially silent in response to the news that was shared. Within a few seconds, the love of Jesus through the Holy Spirit came alive in that group! The spirit of togetherness quickly became contagious and overwhelmed us all. Nearly everyone in the room felt more comfortable and trusting, opening up about what was really on their heart.
After the meeting the father summed it all up, telling a couple of us about a decision he had made personally to stop worrying so much about being vulnerable, particularly in close groups like this one. Behind his leadership everyone felt more comfortable and shared, receiving valuable feedback and support, a beautiful sign of caring and accountability. We all had something more that we were feeling inside, something more than would have been put on the table otherwise. Who would have known? The outcome was clear: this group was no clique of ambiguity and false pretense. It was about to get sticky with Jesus. And real.
On the recipient end of feedback come both adversity and praise. If you query evaluation, you can expect to get both. How to handle them?
Here’s my final thought for today: Leading With Anonymity
Praise can stroke our ego more than a double-eagle on a par 5 (that would be sinking it in two). Did you know that most golfers falter on the hole right after achieving a big win? Why? Well, you didn’t just become the next Tiger Woods when you made a birdie. However, doing so tends to stroke our ego and puff us up. How to overcome? Try to keep it in perspective. The same is true when we falter or receive negative feedback – don’t let it drag you down. You can always find a way to put some sort of positive spin on any feedback you receive. Fully embrace the reality of every situation. That’s a win.
Be faithful in the little things and He will give you more than you can imagine.