We’re doing something new at my workplace — performance evaluations. Though this may be nothing new to those of you in the business world, it’s a big step for us in library-land. It’s really just a sign of how much we’ve grown, even in the eight short years I’ve been with my organization. While we’ve had goals and accomplishments, I would say we were “soft” on the actual evaluation portion of the activity.

All that’s changed.

Not only is it stressful on the employees receiving the evaluations, but it’s a whole new level of responsibility and stress on the supervisors too. Let’s say it’s been a learning curve for us all.

Anyway, because I’ve been thinking about this process at work, it naturally continues to occupy my thoughts in relation to life in general. We’re in a constant state of evaluation. At work, others evaluation me in relation to my job description: Am I doing the job that I was hired for? Am I performing according to company standards?

People don’t only evaluate me at work, but in society at large. Am I a contributing member of society? Am I conforming to societal standards?

The struggle in these two areas is that standards change, as do expectations. I may be able to adjust at work, but society can be a challenge. Why? Because people are fickled. Norms change. What is expected from a member of American society today looks different from thirty years ago. Having lived out of the county for twenty years, made me experience a huge learning curve upon return, as the way people evaluated my behavior was radically different from when I left.

That change in expectations can also effect our spiritual life. Taking a cue from the world, the standards are not nearly so rigid on what makes a “good Christian” as in decades past. Just take a look around most churches on Sunday morning and evaluate dress codes to understand what I’m trying to say. Because churches are made up of fallible human beings, expectations change from generation to generation. This is nothing new.

Does that mean we’re off the hook? If expectations and standards change in work, life and church, then we really shouldn’t be held responsible for missing the mark from time to time. Right?

Sorry, we can’t get off that easily, because there is one standard that never changes — God’s, His Word. No matter how much the church “adapts” to cultural norms and tries to squeeze the Bible to fit into their new box, it can never be.

We still live by grace, but also by eternal principles established by God. When the world evaluates me and says, “Don’t worry, you’re doing alright,” that’s when I need to be leery and alert. For the world to approve is usually a pretty good sign that God does not. Jesus told his disciples:

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.*

Living according to God’s standard may bring poor evaluations from the world around us, but that should be no cause for fear. The New Testament letters were written to Christ-followers who were surrounded by idol worshipers and godless societies, yet they were encouraged by Peter:

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

For whose good pleasure are you living? I pray that your life may receive the highest evaluation from the One who is the source of true value. That’s the root of evaluation, anyway — It’s the judgement of my value. If my value comes from Christ, then what will I long to hear him say?

“Well done, good and faithful servant.”

That’s a great evaluation.

Grace and Peace

*John 15:19 (NIV).

*1 Peter 2:12 (NIV).

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