a framework for feedback from an unlikely place

“Are you giving your leaders the kind of feedback that Jesus gave to His?”

Dr. Bill Lawrence, of Leader Formation International, addressed that question to a group of ministry leaders, studying the Letters to the Churches from the Revelation, chapters 2 & 3. We were about to tour the sites of the churches in Turkey.  He went on to lay out a framework or pattern that appears in most of the Letters.  Here’s the sequence:

  1. I know you.
  2. Here is what you are doing well.
  3. Here’s the problem.
  4. Here’s the needed action.
  5. Here are the consequences, either positive or negative, or both.

In some cases, there was no affirmation ; in other cases, there was no problem.  But in every case, what Jesus brought up was very specific to that church in that city. Wow!  I had always read the Letters to the Churches with a certain amount of understanding, but these Letters were more intensely personal and specific than I had ever realized. For example, Laodicea was known for being the sole producer of a jet black wool.  No other city had it.  They also had a first class medical center famous for healing of eye disorders by a special salve.  A rich city, Laodicea was a known banking center.

hot springs above Laodicea

Above the city was a hot springs that supplied the city, about 15 km away.  You could find the channels for the water at the site pictured. below right.   There was also possibly a cold water spring also bringing water into the city.  People speculate whether the hot water was not hot enough, or the cold water wasn’t cold enough.  But the phrase, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish that you were either one or the other!  So because you are lukewarm,  I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”  Makes you think that if you were from Laodicea, you would have a very good idea of what He was talking about- not refreshing, not hot.

Here’s the problem: “You say ‘I am rich, I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ but …. you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.”  The exact strengths they were famous for added up to nothing spiritually.

Here’s the correction:  “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”  Your true riches are from me.  Redirect your priorities.

Then that beautiful invitation, the needed action, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Here’s the reward for buying true riches, from responding to Jesus’ invitation.  “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.”

Going back to Dr. Lawrence’s question at the beginning, I had to wonder about the kind of feedback I give.  Would it resonate with the person I’m interacting with?

  • Would that person know that I know them?
  • Am I able to show the patterns of behavior that need to change?
  • Can I outline what specific action is needed?
  • Is the consequence clear?

It was thought-provoking.  Somehow I never thought about Revelation being an example of giving good feedback, but there it is.

How about you?  What is your framework for feedback?

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7 Responses to a framework for feedback from an unlikely place

  1. Kristen Joy says:

    Wow! This is so insightful! I never knew this before. The characteristics of good feedback sound like something I would learn in a management class, but the feedback in Revelation is so much more powerful and the consequences of inaction are so much more dire.

  2. Steve Morgan says:

    That is so cool. I like the being known part. There is something powerful about being known and still be loved. Otherwise feedback is simply nice (or harsh) words that are kind of off base and really don’t resonate with the heart. I would love to hear what about the other churches!

  3. Steve Morgan says:

    Reblogged this on Leader Impact and commented:
    Andrea has complied some of the best thoughts here from Dr. Bill Lawrence on giving feedback. The next week after reading this, I used it in a coaching situation. It was great and really works. Fascinating Biblical background and history also. Thanks Andrea for posting this framework.

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