Five solemn-faced people assembled on the other side of the conference table, eyes averted. It was time for my performance review. Nobody seemed particularly festive.
For several months there had been rumblings about my pastoral "performance." Nobody doubted my gifts as a preacher or questioned my commitment to Christ. But everyone at the table that day knew there was a growing discontent with my skills as an administrator and leader. Still, I remained confident, ready to admit my faults and defend my record as their pastor.
A month earlier these members of our staff-parish relations committee had filled out an evaluation form, rating me on a scale from 1 ("needs a great deal of improvement") to 5 ("superior, excellent"). Now, everyone sat stiffly in their chairs, fidgeting with their completed evaluation forms.
Finally, to break the awkward silence, I volunteered to evaluate myself.
I gave myself 3's and 4's on most areas but rated myself a mere 2 ("needs some improvement") in leadership and administration.
"I confess that this area is not my strength," I said. "It's been a tough transition coming from a small church, but I'm willing to grow as your leader." How much more transparent and vulnerable can a pastor get? I thought to myself. Surely they'll have compassion, or at least pity, on me. They'll probably even insist that I be bumped up to a 3 ("fully satisfactory").
Billy, the senior member of the committee, tapped his pen and stared at his evaluation form. "Well, Pastor," he drawled, "actually I was thinking that a 2 was pretty high. As a leader and administrator, I gave you a 1."
I glanced at the full page of notes Billy had written in the comments section. "Poor communication … poor administration … confused ...