Feedback and Humility

The manila envelope is staring me in the face, almost daring me to open it.  Final exams are over.  I’ve completed my grading and submitted the students’ final grades to the Registrar’s office.  I’ve kept my promise to the students, “I will not look at the evaluations for this class until I have submitted your final grades.”

It’s time to open the envelope.  Part of me does not want to see what’s inside.  It usually does not feel good to be humbled; and I know that at least one, and perhaps several, students will criticize the work that I have provided inside and outside the classroom during this past semester.  And then I’ll be forced to think about changing what I do.  And I don’t relish changing something—especially when I thought that “something” was a great idea to incorporate into the class.

For the reasons listed above (and I’m sure there are other reasons), some of us just don’t like to obtain feedback.  It’s easier to believe our own self-talk that all is well.  We’re doing a great job.  Our customers love us.  There’s no way our competition will be seen by our loyal customers as possible alternatives.  We pride ourselves in conducting our work with excellence.  Why, excellence is even one of our core values (look on the wall in the lobby—see what I mean?).

But I do open the envelope.  And along with some very encouraging and kind remarks, I see the inevitable comments that sting and humble me.  And that’s good.

The Bible is very clear: we Christians are to periodically examine ourselves (1 Cor. 11:28; 2 Cor. 13:5) and seek to be humble.  In fact, 1 Peter 5:5b states,

“…be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud,
and gives grace to the humble” (American King James Version).

That is one of my favorite verses in the Bible.  When I read the verse from 1 Peter, I think of a giant hypodermic needle loaded with the grace that God is ready to infuse me with—once I’ve humbled myself.  And sometimes the humbling comes at the hands of others (e.g., student feedback).  This humbling leads to an infusion of grace in my life as once again I recognize that all I have and all I do and all I’m capable of doing comes from His hand—period.  Such should be our attitude as Christians in the marketplace.  Let’s remember as we measure and manage our customer satisfaction that such feedback leads to humility and grace resulting in glory to God and better service in His kingdom.

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