Pastors: What To Do About the Anonymous Input – part 2


Do you prefer to watch a video or read an article? You get to choose. Watch the video above (or if you can't see it – click HERE) or read it below… same content. This is an issue I think a lot about. I'm doing this especially for our 16:5 attendees and other church leaders. If you missed part one about why you should reject anonymous input – you can see that HERE.

Previously, I had talked about rejecting anonymous input. But there are some dangers of rejecting anonymous input too. Let me mention three of them that come to mind:

  • First, the leaders must remember that just because someone has a differing opinion doesn't make them a "hater." So if we want them to give non-anonymous feedback, we better not label them as “difficult” or “always opposed to things” when they do give that feedback. Sometimes it is easy to label them as an "opposer" when they simply view something differently (a decision or a direction). Here is the lesson I continue to learn: It’s important to separate your decision from your person. If you gain a reputation of never receiving feedback well then they will stop giving it. Certainly there is a balance here. Sometimes someone is just difficult and they seem to oppose everything. Then they are certainly in the wrong church. But someone opposing occasional decisions can't be labeled or they will stop speaking.

  • Second, it is important to remember that one giving their opinion didn't have all the information you had when you made the decision. They weren't involved in the discussion. Their knowledge is limited. And so is yours. They may be bringing up something you aren't aware of or hadn't thought of. However, it is easy to respond with impatience and that will shut down feedback. So patience is required. And most strong leaders struggle with patience. There is a balance here too. Patience is crucial, but patience can't stop the leaders from making decisions and moving ahead. That’s not patience. That’s lack of leadership. The patience is for the person, not necessarily the decision.

  • Third, if you don't handle proper criticism and negativity in a godly, respectful way, you end up with no one willing to give you negative feedback because they can't be anonymous. In other words, some people want to be anonymous because they’re cowards, because they fear people, or sometimes they want to be anonymous because leaders don't handle criticism well. So yes, they could be cowards. They could also be wise because you explode when people disagree with you. Have people around you that help you evaluate how you respond to criticism.

Of course, those "dangers" have to be carefully evaluated because often if you disagree with someone, you can be told that you don't receive feedback well. But the only reason they say that is because they weren't able to talk you into their viewpoint. So there’s a mess of complications involved, and you know why that is – right? Because we are all sinners – leaders and followers – and sinners tend to respond sinfully – not just when sinned against, but when we don't get our way or when our leadership is questioned.

It is messy. Which reminds me of a question and answer I relate to and love from Paul, it’s Romans 7:

"What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death (and sin)? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

I only speak and know of these dangers because I've certainly been guilty of them at times. By God's grace, I keep improving and the teams I lead keep improving.

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