WebDef: Feedback

Feed·back /fed'bak/ – Noun: Information gathered to assess efforts as to whether they are producing a desired effect.

Feedback is one of seven key pillars in our Methodology for Compassionate Work. Imagine you are on a ship in the middle of a cold and stormy sea, trying to head for land. It's cold, and overcast, you have no instruments, and you want to get to civilization. The skies are so cloudy that you can't see the sun's shadow by day nor the North Star by night, and you have no GPS. Well, none of this matters, if you don't know where you want to go. As the songwriter Joe Jackson pointed out, "You can't get what you want, till you know what you want." You need to have a destination in mind. Then, you need to know whether you're headed in the right direction and how much progress you're making. It's that simple. That's what feedback is all about.

Select Scripture on Feedback

"Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety."
– Proverbs 11:14

"The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit."
– Proverbs 14:8

"He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap."
– Ecclesiastes 11:4

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
– Proverbs 3:5-6

At first glance, these quotes seem at odds with each other. The first two advise gaining counsel from many. The second two state that there is more to sowing and reaping than the obvious watching of the weather, and that we should lean on the Lord rather than our own understanding. There is an inherent tension between the intelligent search for feedback and the need to let go and trust in God.

It would seem that the Bible is saying a couple of things at once: do gain input, but don't depend on it over and above your trust in God. Nowhere is this more clearly set out than in the story of Moses, after freeing his people from slavery in Egypt. When they finally arrived at the promised land, Moses sent out twelve spies to assess the land. Only two of the ten came back still filled with optimism. The others expressed foreboding, and the people lost faith. They spent another forty years in the wilderness, as a direct result (Numbers 13).

There's an old Middle Eastern saying: trust in God but tie your camel, too. Perhaps that means to do what you discern as prudent, but to do so with a faithful heart.

What are WebDefs?

WebDefs – simple definitions of key terms relating to ministry and healing arts – are a regular feature of NHM Ministrants. Offered (where applicable) in conjunction with select key scriptural passages and analysis, WebDefs can be a useful starting place for exploring a topic of interest.

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