Push Back: The Best Idea Wins

We have very little figured out at Embrace, but one of my favorite staff values is called Push Back.

       Push Back.
       We speak in. We push back. The best ideas win.
       Am I inviting feedback?

This is a value that existed wayyyy before we formally developed our Staff Values a year or so ago, and it’s one of the reasons I love being on the team at Embrace! We speak into each other. We wrestle with decisions. We have hard conversations. Why? Because we care about “reaching the next person for Jesus” so much!

We wrestle with decisions. We have hard conversations.

How does this look? Here are two specific ways that Push Back impacts me personally:

1. I am CONSTANTLY asking and inviting feedback from those around me.
Did I lead that meeting well?
Did I inspire or did I defeat people with my words?
Are my expectations too high or too low?
How can I do my job better?
Do I have any blind spots right now?
Did I say anything stupid today?

2. Every week I preach, the message is heard by a group of people two different times. On Tuesday, I share all of the message I have so far with a group of eight. I want them to challenge everything! I call this group “the firing squad.” The only way I get frustrated with this team is if they’re not being brutally honest with me. I want to bring the strongest message I can! So I take all of their feedback, finish the message, and then I share the entire message with them again and we go through the exact same process. What’s awesome? On Sunday the people of Embrace hear a message that a team of solid people have helped create, not just one person!

In all areas we encourage our team to push back on things. Not to be a stick in the mud. We’re not a fan of those. But to make things (events, small groups, first impressions, graphics, the worship service, everything) as strong as possible. Again, our purpose of telling one more person about Jesus matters! It’s so important.

In all areas we encourage our team to push back on things.

I know for myself I want to continue growing! As a pastor, leader, friend, and follower of Jesus, I want to grow. I can’t do that if people (especially close friends and staff) won’t speak into my life. I have very little figured out and I need others speaking into and pushing back on me.

Some important thoughts with this:

—We never draw blood. There’s a difference between constructive criticism and being hurtful. If you’re speaking out of jealousy, ego, or trying to get ahead, please be quiet!

—People who think they know it all will HATE this environment. Some might say, “But I’m an expert, why are you speaking into my area?” “I have ## years of experience!” “I have a degree in this area!” We don’t have any experts on staff at Embrace. Never stop learning!

We don’t have any experts on staff at Embrace.

—Initially it’s not easy. Receiving criticism is hard. When I first had staff speak into my message, I was crazy insecure! Also, if you’re wanting to take the easy way out on something, you won’t want people pointing out the weakness in the work you’re doing! Now I find myself not just wanting feedback from others, but needing it.

—Note to lead people and bosses: If you want to get “your way” because of your title or position it won’t work! As the “lead pastor” (it feels weird to even type that), I need pushback more than anyone! My blind spots affect the whole organization.


Leave a Reply

2 Comments on "Push Back: The Best Idea Wins"

Michaele Bonenberger

How can I give you encouragement and feedback?