Jesus regularly asked questions. He did this as a way of teaching the disciples and to help them understand who He was. When Jesus asked questions it also helped those around Him to understand what was important to Him.
- What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he? (Matthew 22:42)
- Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? (Matthew 23:17-19)
- When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up? (Mark 8:19)
Jesus’ ability to ask well crafted questions helped His followers to understand very deep and life changing spiritual lessons. As a leader, it is important to learn to ask the right questions, at the right time, to the right people. We call this evaluation. Questions help to accomplish various things in an organization but consider the following:
- Evaluation helps everyone on the team to define a “win.” In organizations there are as many definitions for “win” as there may be staff working for the organization. In church life you may have a staff, support staff, and volunteers who are all working for the church but they may all have a different expectations of success. If the church has a service on Sunday “WIN!” If there is a new family that ventures through the door “WIN” If there are no sound or audio/video issues “WIN!”
When you sit down and ask the hard questions then everyone is able to see what is important, just by what questions are asked. If the organization is not asking questions of evaluation, then that in itself speaks volumes. In sports, identifying a win is easy. Did we win the game? Anything else is a loss. Coaches and players are evaluated by how effective they are at putting points on the scoreboard and winning ball games.
In your organization, what is a “win?” Does this help you move toward something? Also, in sports each season is brand new. You get to start over. In church life, every year builds upon the previous one. There are no “mulligans.” Forward steps are made while pulling the weight of the church’s past. The first step in evaluation is to have an agreed upon “win” for whatever it is you are trying to evaluate. The older the church is, the more people have to be led to “this is a win”
- Evaluation helps to align budgets with expected outcomes. To continue our sports metaphor, there are agreed upon rules, set number of players, and basic needed equipment (balls, bats, helmets, shoulder pads, etc.). It is obvious when a sports team spends money on things that don’t help it to win, because their winning, scoring, etc. is affected (or their new scoreboard is the size of a small planet).
If a football team decides not to hire an offensive coordinator and let a volunteer handle it when they have time, then they may see the drastic effects of this decision on the first game of the season. So while the gold rims on the team’s bus may look nice, they will lose because they put the money in the wrong place (and they probably are getting horrible gas mileage).
If a new coach is hired (because the previous coach was not winning) and they have a losing season, it won’t be too long before he/she will be replaced. Why? Not because he was not a nice guy, or loved sports, but because he was not leading the team to win ball games. Churches have different definitions for success, but you can determine what they feel is important by where they put their money. Are you utilizing your resources to accomplish the win? Are you wasting precious resources on things that are not helping you to “win?”
- Evaluation helps one to better manage time. There is the famous illustration of the college professor who displays an empty jar and has several large rocks that he then places in the jar. He then asks the class, “Is the jar full?” They say, “yes.” The professor then gets out pebble sized small stones and pours them over the larger stones. He then asks, “Is it full?” They say, “yes.” He then pulls out sand, etc. you get the idea. Evaluation helps us identify what are the large stones, the most important things in ones’ life. Those large stones have to go in first, they won’t fit if you have already put the pebbles, sand, etc. in first. Evaluation asks, “What are the large stones and are they getting into my life first?”
I would argue that the most precious resource that you have is your time. If you want to get more out of your day, or accomplish those big goals you have set, then they have to be prioritized, they won’t fit once you have dealt with the constant urgency of the present. Evaluating helps the leader show where he/she feels time should be spent by the organization. Asking, “What is consuming most of our time?” and “is it being effective in helping us accomplish the win?” is incredibly important. What are the “big rocks?” and are we delegating/prioritizing the needed time to see that they are getting done?
- Evaluation helps to clarify mission. If everyone in an organization has a different definition of a “win,” then leaders will budget and calendar with their definition in mind. This difference leads to different goals relating to different missions and values within the same organization.
This leads to an “every man for themselves” mentality. If you need something then you compete for resources and personnel against other staff or leaders who are trying to accomplish their own mission. When you evaluate and ask the hard questions then resources are directed toward a common direction. Calendars are aligned to accomplish the same things. Mission begins to be clarified among the organization because the win has been defined and questions are being asked to determine if what you are doing is being effective at accomplishing it.
Luke 14:28-30 “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, â€˜This man began to build and was not able to finish.” (ESV)
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