[Apollos] had been instructed in the way of the Lord and spoke as one stirred up by the Spirit. He taught accurately the things about Jesus, even though he was aware only of the baptism John proclaimed and practiced. He began speaking with confidence in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they received him into the circle of friends and explained to him God’s way more accurately.
It is difficult to be evaluated. No matter the process, evaluation makes one vulnerable and open to criticism. Most of us put much time and effort in our work, so the thought that something might be wrong, that we might not be living up to expectation, can be scary at best.
Recent language about “growing edges” really does not take the “edge” off any evaluation process. We still hear it as meaning “something is wrong with your work” and so we place the same defense mechanisms used for “constructive critique,” “areas of growth,” and “deficiencies.”
Today’s reading caught my attention because it reminded me how important correctives can be. Apollos was doing God’s work with power from the Spirit. He had been instructed and was by all accounts extremely effective at his work. There was just one small corrective, one small “growing edge.” Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos under their wing, welcomed him to the community of friends, and there they help him grow in his understanding of baptism.
We all have “growing edges,” we all can do better in our work on behalf of God’s kingdom. Maybe if those of us in evaluative work would follow the example of Priscilla and Aquila we might become more effective in our correcting, shaping, and mentoring.
What if pastors developed communities of mutual learning, accountability, and support? What if candidates for ordination were in a communal process of evaluation, mentoring, and learning? What if judicatory leaders became transparent about their own evaluative processes and communities of growth?
I believe that if we took this seriously it would help all of us “grow our edges.” I also believe that if we did evaluation in these ways we can celebrate the amazing things that God’s Spirit is doing among all of God’s servants.