“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of man is?’ And they said, ‘Some said John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he said, ‘who do you say I am?’” (Matt. 16: 13 – 15)
The above excerpt, as you can accurately guess, is from the Bible (The New Jerusalem Bible, to be precise). Many people have interpreted it as a test of the disciple’s spirituality, especially regarding their faith. For instance, if you continue reading down the verse, in the Bible that is, you will see where Peter professed his understanding of who Jesus is and the reward he got for that. But this essay is not looking at the spiritual aspect of that excerpt; its focus is on how that passage teaches us the best evaluation method.
Unknown to many, this passage in question encompasses all aspects of human endeavour. It may be in the Bible but it is not talking to Christians alone. This is simply because every human being needs to submit himself for evaluation, criticism, reprimand, and improvement. Hence, the passage speaks to each and every one of us, irrespective of our religion, faith, or ideology, because it can also be applied in the secular world.
As you must have noticed, Jesus submitted himself for evaluation in that passage. He assessed his works, leadership skills, teaching method, and relationship with others. By critically analysing each of these mentioned aspects, you will see how Jesus revealed the best way to assess oneself.
- Evaluation of Works: Jesus came into this world for a purpose. As a result, he needs to ensure that his works are meeting that purpose. So, after working for some time, he carried out a survey to ascertain how his work was going. He collected feedback through his disciples by asking them to describe how people see his works and the assumptions they made about him. That way, he could tell if he was getting closer to his goals or not.
What Jesus did here could be likened to what business owners do when they ask for market surveys. The same way they send their employees to collect customers’ feedback is exactly what Jesus did. Of course, we were not told that he sent his disciples out for surveys but he knew they mingle with people and that they could easily gather data. Hence, he taught, through this passage, that the best way to obtain honest feedback from customers is through employees, who receive direct criticisms and recommendations from customers.
- Evaluation of Leadership Skills: Jesus is often referred to as “rabbi”, which means “teacher” and “master/leader”. So, when he asked his disciples to submit their feedback, his leadership qualities were also tested. In the first place, only a good leader checks the effects of his leadership style on his followers. Secondly, assessing one’s leadership skills provides room for improvement. Hence, when Jesus asked for candid information from his followers, he was checking whether he was a bad leader or not as well as where he should work on.
- Evaluation of Teaching Method: Remember Jesus was also a teacher. His disciples were his students. He taught them for some time and then assessed them to find out if he is doing well as a teacher or not. If you notice, the last question in the excerpt, “But you, who do you say I am?”, tested both their knowledge and his teaching method. If they’d had no correct answer to that question, it means he was teaching well. It takes a good teacher to pass on knowledge to his students.
Judging from what that passage revealed, the best way teachers can assess their teaching methods is by asking their students to furnish them with objective evaluations. In fact, if you want to find out whether you are a good teacher or not, ask your students to write anonymous essays about you. Tell them to say what you do well and the ones you don’t. Encourage them to give the works to other people to copy out so you don’t guess who wrote what through their handwriting. And then, provide a suggestion box, where they can drop the essays in your absence. This will give you a clear picture of who you are as a teacher and what you need to work on.
- Evaluating Relationship with Others: In this passage, Jesus tested his relationship with his disciples and the people that had come across him. He must have desired to be a good friend, neighbour, and mentor. So when he asked for insider information, regarding how people see him, he needed to know if he was building up a good relationship with his disciples, who were his friends, and others out there.
As mentioned earlier, this passage touches on a crucial aspect of human life. Though it could be interpreted differently, based on the context of use, its focal point still remains seeking evaluation intentionally. It teaches that, even if you engage in personal appraisal, you need to seek for those done by others. That way, you can decide how well you are doing and how well you need to do.