Anyone who looks in a mirror finds a person looking back. The looking is easy. It’s what we see—and what we do about what we see—that matters.
Of course, as pastors and church leaders, we’re after that metaphorical mirror—one that looks around and within, on a journey toward productive self-evaluation.
And that’s a tall order. But if you want to be effective in your role, you have to keep growing and keep showing up for yourself, your family, and your congregation.
Scripture Offers a Clear Guide for Self-Evaluation
The question becomes: How do you do that with everything else on your plate? We’re here to help. And we’re going to go together to our greatest source of help: God’s Word.
Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV).
A couple of things to note in this scripture:
- God isn’t looking for you to be the perfect leader. (And neither, we should add, is your family, your congregation or your community.) Instead, He encourages you to focus on increase, progress, and forward motion.
- God’s Word is so practical here. Don’t you love that? He offers a clear guide for ensuring that your knowledge of Him continues to be moving and powerful. And that’s where we’re going to spend our time today.
2 Peter 1:5-8 lists seven characteristics for self-evaluation. Let’s take a look at each one. We’ll provide greater clarity by adding phrases used in The Message, highlight a few things you might want to consider in your own self-evaluation, and offer tools to aid in your growth.
1. Where do I stand when it comes to goodness?
Can my staff count on me to do what I say I’m going to do, when I say I’m going to do it? Do I strive for excellence? Are my intentions and motivations pure? Take some time to process your answers to those questions.
The Message refers to goodness as good character.
Tool to aid in your growth: Recruit someone in your life who will ask you hard questions and tell you hard truths.
2. Am I growing in knowledge of God’s Word and my role in the church?
Week in and week out, you strive to help others grow in their knowledge of God, but what are you doing to increase your own knowledge? You’ll lead your staff and your congregation best when you choose to make learning a lifestyle.
The Message refers to this as spiritual understanding.
Tool to aid in your growth: Try a program like The High Impact Leader Kit—a 10-session course proven to help you get control of your time, energy and priorities.
3. How difficult is it for me to practice self-control?
Ah, self-mastery—no easy task. Consider your gut reactions as well as your daily disciplines. How well do you reject the urge to control, respond in anger, slack off, speak harshly, etc.? What are you doing to line up your actions with the life God has called you to as a pastor?
The Message refers to this as alert discipline.
Tool to aid in your growth: Get to know yourself better by diving into the Enneagram (or other similar tool), which reveals weaknesses and offers a path to maturity.
4. Do I persevere against all odds?
Service to the church can be full of some of the highest highs and the lowest lows. As a leader, your congregation and staff look to you to set the tone in discouraging moments or seasons. What tone do you set?
The Message refers to this as passionate patience.
Tool to aid in your growth: Read The Myth of Balance by Frank Bealer—a book that lays out a simple four-word formula for facing whatever comes your way.
5. Do I live a life of Godliness?
Sure, you’ve devoted your life to serving God, but is He more than a career path for you? If you charted the awe and appreciation you have for Him now compared to when you first started in ministry, would the trend be an upward or a downward one?
The Message refers to this as reverent wonder.
Tools to aid in your growth: Get outside alone in nature. Seek out stories—through articles or podcasts—that speak to God’s goodness. Ask Him to open your eyes, once again, to what He’s doing through your life and in your church.
6. How often do I engage in mutual appreciation?
While you serve the church, you no doubt have countless people serving alongside you. Do they know how much you value them? Not just their time or their money, but the very being they offer to your church? Do you, in turn, feel valued?
The Message refers to this as warm friendliness.
Tools to aid in your growth: Make gratitude for others a daily practice in your life. And if your church offers small groups or other opportunities to connect with members, make sure you’re right there alongside everyone else—both adding to and benefiting from the building of relationships.
7. How well do we, as a church, show God’s love to others?
Nothing draws us to the Gospel quite like the display of God’s unfailing love–in fact, this is the Gospel in a nutshell. Consider how well you lead your church in this endeavor. In this area, above all others, there is always room for improvement.
The Message refers to this as generous love.
Tools to aid in your growth: Reach out to charity organizations in your community and ask a simple question: “What do you need?” Then find a way to meet that need. You might recruit volunteers equipped in this area or connect with other local churches looking to make a difference.