I informed my staff during the staff meeting last week that their annual reviews were coming up, which was followed by a series of collective groans. That got me thinking about two things, first off how can I be a better leader to my staff. The second thought was what does this mean on a spiritual level?

I got thinking about why people always seem to groan and dread their performance reviews, because so often this is associated with sitting down and hearing a laundry list of all that you’ve done wrong the past year. But in all honesty, that method is horrible leadership and no one grows from that. If an employee is doing something wrong, I should tell them about it immediately so that they can correct the problem, not let my frustration build up for a year so I can bring the hammer down on them on that “day of dread”. What a performance review should be is a celebration of all that they’ve accomplished over the past year, and a time to help create new goals that will not only grow the organization, but will give the individual a sense of accomplishment and purpose.

This thinking though transitioned into Romans 12:8, where Paul lists various spiritual gifts given by God for the body of Christ, and one of those spiritual gifts is “encouragement”(NIV) or “exhortation” (ESV). If you’ve ever come across someone who genuinely has that gift, after you spend time with them, you walk away feeling like a million bucks! They see the best in you, and they let you know it. That is a spiritual gift I sorely lack, but I can’t use that as an excuse for not encouraging and building up those I come in contact with.

You see, Jesus was quite clear in Matthew 7:12 when he teaches the “golden rule” to do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. I have always interpreted that on a larger scale, like if I see a sweet old lady on the side of the road with a flat tire, I should help her out. But Jesus wasn’t putting that rule on a scale of magnitude. If I like when people encourage me, then shouldn’t I be doing that to others? It’s not really all that hard for me to walk around the office a couple times a day and give someone a sincere and uplifting compliment. And why limit it to just the office  and people I know, when I could do it to everyone I encounter each day. I doubt most people in the service industry get a lot of sincere comments of appreciation and encouragement…

I’ll probably never be known as Mr.Warm-and-Fuzzy, but that doesn’t change the fact that I should see only the best in others, because that’s what God sees in them. Just because that’s not my spiritual gift doesn’t give me license to not practice it at all, especially when I greatly appreciate when someone encourages me. Instead I should start treating that gift like exercise, at first it’s difficult and doesn’t come naturally, but the more I do it, the easier and more natural it becomes. And who knows, maybe one day I’ll find out that’s one of my spiritual gifts after all…

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