While driving, I occasionally see a sign on the side of the road, telling me that I’m over the speed limit. Others see the same sign, and either touch their brakes or ignore its warning. Obviously, this information is available to the driver without the sign’s communication. By simply looking at the car’s speedometer a person can see how fast the car is traveling. But often we are unaware of what we are doing. People struggle with self awareness because their minds are on other things. Their minds may be on health problems, work problems or family problems. Sometimes I am simply following the speed of the car in front of me instead of driving at the speed limit. Receiving outside communication is a help to me. It’s corrective information.
Life is a lot like driving. We’re warned about our behavior. Feedback comes to us in a couple of ways. We receive feedback from friends. “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” (Proverbs 27:6) The scripture is saying that while adversaries hope we will continue on a path to destruction, a true friend will warn us where our actions may be taking us.
We also receive feedback from the Lord through His word. The Bible tells us, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21) And the scriptures tell us when we get off the road. Peter once asked Jesus how many times he should forgive a repeat offender – seven times? Jesus replied no, “…seventy seven times.” (Matthew 18:22) When we read this dialogue between Jesus and Peter we hear God say to us that we need to let go of bitter feelings. We should forgive those who hurt us, even when they do it often. It’s feedback that actually helps us live our lives with peace.
The key to making use of feedback is in one’s actions. The Bible says, “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” (James 1:23) God’s Word is our mirror. We shouldn’t ignore its feedback. We should do what it says we should do.
Author Ken Blanchard said, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” In other words, feedback makes us better, and helps us to succeed at life. One of the most important things we can do is to ask for feedback. We may ask people, “How am I doing?” After an event we can ask someone, “On a scale of 1-10, what rating would you give that?” In his book, The Success Principles, Jack Canfield recommends a good follow-up question. “What would it take to make it a 10?”
Once we hear feedback we must receive it in the right way. In James 1:19-20 we read, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” A good reason to listen more and speak less is that so often when someone is speaking the truth to us, God is speaking through that person. We want to hear God speak. We don’t want to tell God He’s wrong. We’re to thank Him for his correction and discipline – He sends it for our own good!
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves….” (Hebrews 12:5-6) Let’s listen to and act on God’s feedback. He loves us!
Pastor Ken Atchison
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com