Progress reports take many forms. When I was younger, they came in the form of report cards. I cannot remember enjoying any day I had to bring them home. While I cannot remember a seriously bad day, I do not recall any good ones either. They were always times where expectations dimmed. I always felt like a disappointment. Even during the extended periods where I worked hard, nothing seem to meet the expectations of my teachers or parents. With time, progress reports morphed into evaluations and reviews. There were a few “bad” ones, usually driven by forces beyond my control. I can recall several good ones, yet I always found myself struggling with expectations for even more. Mostly there were mixed comments.
As I take what I can from the experiences, I find myself wondering if anyone involved was looking with clear eyes. Is it possible to measure one’s progress by external results? It is even reasonable to take this approach? Do our attempts to measure flounder when we try to balance process and intent with outcomes?
In other times and places, judgments could take very different perspectives. When I read the conclusion to a trip, I find myself with more questions than answers. “Finally, they made it to Attalia and caught a ship back to Antioch, where it had all started—launched by God's grace and now safely home by God's grace. A good piece of work.” (Acts 14.26)
It is an interesting conclusion, “a good piece of work”. I know that the individuals involved were not 100% successful. It is reasonable to assume that they would, if they had a chance to do things over, do things differently. The outcomes were not always positive. Yet, the conclusion was direct and clear, well done.
Life leads us something more than scores and grades. Life says we have the opportunity to work hard, learn, and grow. In the end, a measure is taken of the complete package. “A good piece of work” is a great result. I can feel that balance is, then and now, within reach.