We tend to think ministry is about teaching or organizing others. We never really think about what role listening should play in a ministry. Sometimes, leaders get so wrapped up in efficiencies or problems, they stop listening to the people they are supposed to be serving. In fact, many leaders become defensive the minute anyone makes a suggestion or complains.
Let’s face it. Suggestions and complaints slow us down. We have to stop and consider what the person says. Then we have to decide whether there is any truth to what was shared. It doesn’t stop there though. If truth is in the suggestion or complaint, more time is spent figuring out what to change to have a better impact on the hearts and lives of students.
It’s much easier to dismiss the suggestion or complaint and label the person who came to us with some negative adjective like “divisive” or “chronic complainer”. We never stop to consider that maybe God is sending the person to us to help us be more effective in reaching those precious souls. Of course, God isn’t calling these people on the phone with verbal instructions. He has given them gifts though, that they may be using when they come to us with ideas. Or the Holy Spirit may be nudging them to say something about a situation that is not as effective as it could be or is perhaps even harmful.
To have a great anything, great leaders not only listen to feedback, they actively seek it. Read any leadership book and a large portion usually addresses the value of getting others to help you find weak spots and correct them. Yet, most of us are terrified of negative feedback. We would never admit it, but our frustration and anger at those who criticize or complain is a cover for our fear.
If you can push down your emotions and learn to really listen to everyone who comes to you, your ministry will improve in ways you have never imagined. Should you go a step farther and actually seek honest feedback on a regular basis, you may be shocked at the positive impact it has on your ministry and those precious young souls.
Teach One Reach One Ministries wants to encourage you to seek feedback using best practices. There are many ways to seek feedback that only generate what people think you want to hear. Our best practices tool will help you seek and receive feedback that will actually be helpful to you. Our free “The ABC’s of a Ministry Listening Tour” has almost everything you need to really listen to those you serve. (Just add the specific questions you would like answered.)
It’s designed for both assessing current ministries, and seeking information about the viability of possible new ministries or programs. You can use it as a teacher for just your class, as a ministry or even as a church. Whether you make use of our free tool or just start really listening to those who want to share something with you – we want to really encourage you to listen. Listening is the first step in your ministry reaching its godly potential – something for which we should all be striving.