The Pastoral Sharpening Discussion Sheet~~Steve
While people have plenty of informal experience, often church leadership has had no formal experience in evaluating pastoral ministry. This discussion sheet has been useful in steering leaders to bringing a helpful critique to my ministry. Periodically, I distribute it (or something similar) to the leaders and ask them to seriously discuss it as a group. I leave the room so they can speak openly about the areas on the form. After about an hour, I return and ask them what comments they have to share with me.
How the pastor handles criticism in general is very influential in determining his success. And how he handles tools like this will be key in determining their success. If he is afraid of criticism, he will probably not distribute them at all. But if he can face the reality that there are areas of his life that need improvement, and if he believes that the leadership of the church loves him and wants him to be a successful pastor, he can confidently entrust the form and himself to the people God has placed in leadership in his congregation. Even times when I knew some leaders did not have the spiritual aptitude to love me, I believed God loved me and desired that I be the best pastor I could be. Knowing this has enabled me to entrust myself to him when I could not entrust myself to humans.
There have been times that certain individuals have given petty answers to the questions on this form. Once, a man criticized the size of the paper I used for sermon notes! Another criticized the way I parked my car. I believe one of the reasons for their being overly critical is because they had such reviews at their workplace and were living out a sort of carnal fantasy on being in the bosses seat for a change. Another reason is because they couldn’t find anything serious to criticize, but they felt they had to say something. At any rate, sometimes, when comments were made, I have carefully asked, “Do each of you feel this is an issue?” When it was, I asked them to pray for me concerning it. Other times, they have replied, “No. Only one of us feels this way. But he/she really feels strongly about it.” In that case, I said, “I would love to talk to him/her about it further. At this time, all I can do is be aware of it and try to be more careful.” A wise pastor will not feel a need to defend himself, but will take each suggestion to God prayerfully asking God to enable him to overcome his shortcomings.
Often, at the conclusion of the review I thank them and say, “If things like these are on your heart, please consider bringing them to me personally rather than waiting for six months for a pastoral review. I am open to hearing your opinions. In fact, I desire to know your thoughts.” Who wouldn’t rather talk about his faults privately with a brother or sister in Christ than before a whole review board.
The Pastoral Review Form can be dowloaded here. Right-click and select “Save Target As…” or “Save Link As…”