It’s that time of year again… Annual Staff Reviews.
One by one the staff members of American Reformed Church enter a small, dimly light room and brace ourselves for the impending interrogation. We are instructed to sit on the far side of the room facing our examiners; four of them to be exact. The room is dry and hot, and nothing is offered to quench our thirst. The investigators whisper quietly to each other, before the official examination begins. I take a deep breath and try to prepare myself for what’s to come…
Okay, okay, it’s not that bad. It does in some ways feel a little like getting called into the principal’s office and in other ways it’s like having coffee with close friends. Merlin, Willis, Codie and Nadine do a wonderful job of putting us at ease and encouraging each of us in the roles that we fill and I appreciate their willingness to be on the Staff Support Team.
Staff reviews have taken several different routes over the nine years that I have participated in them. Some years we have been asked to assess our co-workers, other times members of the congregation have been called upon to share their opinions and experiences regarding the staff. This year we were asked to do a self-assessment based on an idea from Marcus Buckingham, an author, motivational speaker and business consultant, who would argue that the best person to assess your performance at work is you. Staff members were given a list of questions and statements in which we could share our thoughts about our strengths and weaknesses in regards to our duties, our team, the consistory and the church.
Doing a self-assessment is not necessarily an easy task, but it is beneficial. Spending time thinking through the questions helps me reflect on the past year and brings to light areas where I have fallen short and could improve upon in the future. It also reminds me of tasks that I have done well and where I have used the gifts and strengths that God has given me.
God’s Word also instructs us to examine ourselves. As sin-filled human beings we are quick to examine other people and point out their shortcomings, but we tend to shy away from critiquing ourselves in the same way. Jesus cautioned his followers concerning this in Matthew 7:3-5. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
This doesn’t mean that we can never assist others by gently pointing out their blind spots, but if we aren’t doing the work of examining our own hearts and taking care of the sin in our lives, we have no business confronting someone else about theirs or making conversation about it with others.
As we enter a new week, I encourage each of you to spend some time examining yourself, not as a comparison activity to see if you are better or worse than your neighbor, but an analysis to learn about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, and to draw near to God.
Lamentations 3:4 “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.”