John Lommel, Senior Director of Accreditation and Institutional Effectiveness at LeTourneau, considers the biblical place of assessment in God's Kingdom. In Part 3 of a three-part series, he describes how to change the cultural narrative of assessment into one that is kingdom centered.
In the first article of this series, we have looked at the understanding of one’s telos, the vision of the “good life”/flourishing, and how the Christian view that human flourishing only exists within the Kingdom of God affects the understanding of assessment. The second article framed assessment within the vision of the Kingdom of God as Hope-filled, Shalom-centered, and Love-infused. However, developing and maintaining this model of assessment is easier to write about than to accomplish. Consumerism, Nationalism, Capitalism, Communism, Socialism, Individualism, etc. all provide competing narratives to us, our co-workers, our stakeholders, and society at-large as to what constitutes human flourishing (McKnight, 2011). Maintaining the vision of the Kingdom of God requires deliberate actions in us and in our businesses.
As we interact within the world, we develop habits and practices that shape our hearts. Rituals within shopping malls, athletic stadiums, social media, and educational institutions develop specific ways for understanding the good life and flourishing. Although intellectual knowledge is important, purely intellectual knowledge does not affect our actions or our heart. (Smith, 2016) The spiritual disciplines are activities that break us away from the competing narratives and transform us. The disciplines of solitude, fasting, service, worship, Sabbath, prayer, Bible reading/memorization, etc. (Willard, 2002) form us into disciples of Jesus with a Kingdom of God vision. The disciplines are deliberate actions for personal growth as people of Shalom, but can we adopt practices in business that provide a vision for the Kingdom of God?
Years of practicing and viewing assessment as only for compliance, or as means to resource accumulation, or improved reputation have provided a very strong narrative concerning audits, evaluations, accreditation, and market research. It takes willful, sustained discipline to change the narrative of assessment as Kingdom-centered. Here are some practices that, over time, will transform the assessment part of your business:
- Revisit your business’s, your department’s, and your personal vision and mission in light of flourishing with the Kingdom of God.
- Adopt an assessment vocabulary that frames the assessment as hope-filled, shalom-centered, and love-infused.
- Adopt employee, customer, and community flourishing as a primary metric in assessment.
- Celebrate co-workers not only for job performance, but for their activities outside work that promote Shalom.
- Practice corporate days of service, where people promote Shalom within the surrounding community.
- Prayerfully use the following questions when reviewing assessment data:
- How did we participate with God to further bring Shalom to our customers, employees, and world?
- How did our practices and behaviors, individually and corporately, hinder the development of Shalom to our customers, employees, and world?
- What changes must take place for us to better participate in God’s redemptive work within the lives of our students, faculty members, and staff members?
- Develop practices of public celebration over where God is using your business to further God’s Kingdom.
- Develop practices of public confession or lament over where your business failed to further God’s Kingdom in the world.
- Keep Sabbath institution-wide.
- Tithe your profits.
These practices provide constant reminders of the Kingdom purpose of our businesses as we work through assessment processes and use that data for strategic planning. Financial audits now answer the question of how justly resources are being used within your business. Employee evaluations now focus on relationships and the flourishing of the employee. Accreditation reviews and inspectors are opportunities to spread the narrative of God’s redemptive work within our institution and how that education promotes Shalom. Hope-filled, Shalom-centerd, Love-infused assessment becomes filled with joy, passion, and excitement as our businesses become blessings to our employees and world as they participate with God in redeeming all of creation.
McKnight, S. (2011) The king Jesus gospel: The original good news revisited. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Smith, J.K.A. (2016). You are what you love: The spiritual power of habit. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press.
Willard. D. (2002). Renovation of the heart: Putting on the character of Christ. Colorado Spring, CO: Navpress.