Friendly Reminder: Seek Feedback

This week I complete the Duke Institute of Preaching, a nine month continuing education program open to United Methodist pastors from the Florida and Western North Carolina conferences. If you are in either of these conferences, I highly recommend that you check out the program and consider applying.

For everyone else, I want to share one of the most valuable experiences and takeaways–and it is not something restricted to a lucky few who live and serve in particular conferences of particular denominations. It is not something you need seminary faculty or wise, experienced clergy to teach you. In fact, it is likely something you already know:

Seek feedback.

As part of the program we seek feedback from multiple channels. We have peer groups within the program, as well as a hand-selected local feedback team made up of a small but representative group from our congregations. This means that on a monthly basis for almost a year, I have received constructive feedback from both fellow pastors and the people I am preaching to week in and week out.

At times it can be uplifting, and others times it can be challenging. Sometimes it isn’t always helpful, but other times it has opened my eyes to aspects of my communication that I would never have noticed on my own. And let’s be honest, how many of us even go back and watch our own “game tape” on a regular basis anyway? Between the regular practice of reviewing my own work and getting perspectives from others, I feel that I have grown and been stretched in ways that could not come from lectures and books alone.

So, no matter what your venue of communication is, get feedback. Find some regular way to check in with people who receive your work. Also seek out colleagues or fellow practitioners who understand what it is like to work in your setting or medium. If we do this on a regular basis, we are making an intentional choice to grow and be good stewards of the gifts God has given us.

Image by Flickr user Graham Hellewell. Used under Creative Commons License. Cropped from Original.

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