Just Jay Blog

Speaking and Listening

Bethel Backstage Pass

When we do marriage enrichment retreats, one of the things that we talk about is communication. Good communication is vital to every area of a thriving marriage. As each couple works through a communication pattern that is effective for them, there is always a balance between speaking and listening. The same is true in the workplace. Good communication is vital and it always involves a balance of speaking and listening.

In our marriage, Barb can attest that I am an imperfect communicator—but we keep working on it together as we remain committed to each other. At Bethel, we’ve worked hard to improve communication—but we’re imperfect here, too!

Early in my leadership, we did Q&A sessions after trustee meetings. We also held community meetings when important decisions were being made. For example, scores of people from all parts of campus gave input on the initial strategic plan. More recently, approximately 400 people gave input on the Campus Master Plan in guided discussions with Performa Higher Education.

In the weeks to come, we expect to hold roundtable discussions about the work of the Reconciliation Task Force, the campus survey on reconciliation, and our proposed new approach to living out our core value “We are reconcilers.” We are working to find the right balance of speaking and listening. I believe that the apostle Paul is saying something important when he describes Christians as the body of Christ. There is greater wisdom and ability to serve if we figure out how to do it together. We’re more likely to be successful if all parts of the body are talking to each other.

On April 25 from 1-2 p.m. CDT, we’re having the next Bethel Backstage Pass event. We’ll connect to both coasts and also stream the event for those involved in other activities. This is an attempt to listen and to speak. Your questions are important sources of feedback and direction to us.

After the last Backstage Pass, 138 of you completed a survey on how it went and I’ve read the 21 pages of comments more than once.

Most of you who responded liked the event and the format we used. You liked hearing from the cabinet and you appreciated the follow-up blogs we did to answer the questions we didn’t get to. In regards to the information that you received from the event, some of you felt that it was very helpful and meaningful, while others thought it felt like a PR event that avoided tough questions with scripted answers.

To give you some background on how we collected questions and determined which ones would be answered at the event, I asked a separate group of employees to collect and prepare your questions for the event. Their involvement ensured that we didn’t avoid any of the more difficult questions and protected anonymity. We plan to follow the same process this spring.

As we prepare for the April 25 event, we’ll try to get to more questions, give more targeted answers, and ramble less. Thanks for submitting questions in advance. It allows us to gather more specific information to give the most accurate (and genuine) answers possible. We plan to do follow up blogs again for questions we don’t get to. Hopefully, it will be better—but I’m sure it will not be perfect! We’ll try to at least match the lake Wobegon standard of being “above average.”