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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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How Do We Rate?

How would you rate us today?

This question often pops up while I’m quietly living my life. It asks me to rate everything, from hospital services to the consumables that could put me there. Online brownies, for example (ordered for others, obviously).

Occasionally, I do the star rating and click through the questions, skipping ‘Other Comments’. More often, I sigh and have another brownie a cup of tea. Why?

I dislike this constant need to evaluate. I understand the reasons behind it. Honest reviews can produce positive change, better services, and useful quotes to advertise customer satisfaction. I get this. I’m a writer. A 5-star review will almost certainly boost my book sales. A positive comment is even better.

But, in asking people to constantly make judgements, are we helping shape a society which only values measurable outcomes, insisting that anything less than perfect is inexcusable? Services are provided by human beings who, while quirky and lovable, are essentially flawed. Do not judge… For in the same way that you judge others, you will be judged (Matthew 7:1–2).

Deep down, we know this: we make judgements as imperfect people. This makes us anxious. If I give a 3-star rating, it means my standards are higher. But I expect from others what I can’t give myself and one day, someone will find me out.

We strive daily to emulate the example of Jesus – loving, forgiving, generous – accepting we’ll fail and fall into the welcoming arms of God’s grace. Shame and anxiety are not features of God’s kingdom. Relief and hope are. How can we make these shine?

Next time you’re sent a survey, maybe fill in the ‘Other Comments’ section, sharing what you liked, whatever the grade. Simple actions can value the person more than the service – thank the waiter, leave a tip, chat with the labourer. You could show grace when writing a review – ‘The service was slow, but I could see you were short-staffed.’

Perhaps give people the benefit of the doubt – ‘I didn’t see a treatment plan but I understand it will be sent to me.’ And react in the opposite spirit – on an Airbnb holiday there was no whisk. Seeing one in a shop, my husband bought it to leave as a gift.

The main protagonist in my book, who is anxious and lonely, stumbles across people from her local church. When people stumble across us, is there a sense of relief, of hope?

How do we rate?


Deborah Jenkins
Deborah is a freelance writer and teacher. She blogs at stillwonderinghere.net. You can find out more about her books here.


  1. I rate this as excellent – 5*s. It identifies the Christian approach to several human dilemmas in an interesting and accessible way.

    By william Nixon  -  12 Nov 2021
    • Thank you! At the end of the day, it’s usually the little things that make the most impact, isn’t it? After all, this is the stuff our lives are made of…

      By Deborah Jenkins  -  12 Nov 2021
  2. Yes I agree. An excellent article that promotes grace over merit. Thank you.

    By Paul Valler  -  12 Nov 2021
    • Grace over merit. Yes, that’s it exactly 🙂 Thank you.

      By Deborah Jenkins  -  12 Nov 2021
  3. Money back please!… hahaha.. seriously- I totally agree .. and PLEASE thank your cleaners/ domestics where you work- leave them a positive feedback on a note and even a Christmas goody –

    By Karin  -  12 Nov 2021
    • !! Yes, thanks for reminding me about that. It’s hard, unrewarding work particularly in a school or hospital (if you’re the Karin I think you are!). A small gift and a note to show appreciation is, as we all know, a Christmas gift worth having.

      By Deborah Jenkins  -  12 Nov 2021
  4. Great thought – spotting something that’s so ubiquitous in our experience & offering fresh wise observation on it. Top work!

    By Bruce Gulland  -  12 Nov 2021
    • Thank you! And thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

      By Deborah Jenkins  -  12 Nov 2021
  5. The whisk story will stay with me, reacting in the opposite spirit. I’m going to be looking out for ‘missing whisk opportunities’. Wonderful article, thank you.

    By Claire Hammond  -  12 Nov 2021
    • I love the idea of looking for ‘missing whisk opps’! I’m going to call them that now too. Thank you for your comment 🙂

      By Deborah Jenkins  -  12 Nov 2021
  6. Easily understandable, realistic and honest.

    Who am I to judge others!

    By Alec Johnston  -  12 Nov 2021
    • Thank you! Yes, that’s it. Hard one to practise on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

      By Deborah Jenkins  -  12 Nov 2021
    • Such ‘evaluations’ sit alongside equally invasive “cookies” , disappointingly not chocolate brownies, as modern day irritants!
      Questions asked for the benefit of
      Thank you for the whisk image! Will whisk away needless words and transform irritation into action!

      By Jilli  -  13 Nov 2021
      • Yes, cookies (of the non-edible kind) are indeed frustrating. Ah, words into action. Yes, that’s the challenge for us all isn’t it? Thank you for your comment 🙂

        By Deborah Jenkins  -  15 Nov 2021
  7. Yes, BUT … Agree totally with the need to be gracious, forgiving etc. The danger is that so many people take the view, “We have to be nice to them, they are trying”. “We cannot criticise because we are not perfect.” The result is slipshod work, a ‘don’t care’ attitude, low standards.
    I was interested that the late Vice Principle of Oakhill College wrote an article in their magazine entitled “Are Christians too nice?” ‘Judge not’ but one verse later is “Cast not ..” implying judging!
    “Test the spirits” 1 John 4. In fact do not accept what is incorrect factually (Paul’s repeated remarks about false teaching) or practically.
    So the question really becomes “How can we be loving, kind, helpful and strive for high standards (for ourselves as for individuals as well as society as a whole?” I speak as a retired Headmaster.

    By Peter Gowlland  -  12 Nov 2021
    • I see your point and I think your question is a pertinent one. I still believe, however, that the way something is said, using careful words which separate the person from the product or service, is important. It can result in motivation rather than discouragement, determination not despair. I think criticism – an expression of disapproval on the basis of perceived faults and mistakes, often linked to a person or persons – is different to evaluation – judging the value of something. The latter seems to me to be more closely related to the product or service. As a (semi-retired) teacher, I have both observed and been observed many times and have given and received both types of judgements (criticism and evaluation). It’s hard to get it right but I genuinely believe it’s possible. But we should not, as you say, bottle out by just ‘being nice’. I think we can, if we are careful, say what we liked, what we valued and how we think the service/product could be improved, without demeaning the person/people working hard to provide it. I really appreciate your comment as it made me think this through!

      By Deborah Jenkins  -  15 Nov 2021
  8. I like your suggestions for positive action

    By Viktor Steiner  -  12 Nov 2021
  9. It has been my privilege to be an avid reader of LICC for over 12 years while living in Spain as well
    as North America in Christian ministry. I first discovered LICC while on a ministry trip to London.
    I have been an avid follower and reader. May God continue to bless and use you.

    By J. Gerardo Parkerson  -  13 Nov 2021
  10. Great article Deborah! We went to an Airbnb which had the potential to be amazing so instead of leaving a bad review, I gave it a good review and contacted the owner privately about a couple of crucial things. I knew they would improve it and wanted them to succeed! He really appreciated it!

    By Georgie  -  13 Nov 2021
    • I think that’s brilliant and a really good way of doing it, particularly if most things were good and there were only a couple of irritants! As you say, reviews are so crucial to people in this regard but a private note will lead to improvement without necessarily affecting take-up (hopefully!).

      By Deborah Jenkins  -  15 Nov 2021
  11. I am so glad God doesn’t have a rating system for us! Hallelujah that he doesn’t categorise or judge us in this way. I’m sure Jesus said something like, ‘Don’t give anyone else a 2 star rating until you’ve looked at the 2 star rating you yourself deserve.’ Also, I am often hesitate to ‘rate’ services, such as my supermarket delivery, for instance, because I don’t know what the results of that rating would be. Great article, Deborah, raising some key issues.

    By Fran  -  13 Nov 2021
    • I love your paraphrase of what Jesus said! Yes, one does wonder how someone with an impossibly tight delivery schedule would be affected if we were to give a poor rating. The whole thing is fraught with difficulty isn’t it? Thank you for your comment 🙂

      By Deborah Jenkins  -  15 Nov 2021
  12. As ever, wise, witty and human.

    By Sue Russell  -  13 Nov 2021
    • Thank you! And thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

      By Deborah Jenkins  -  15 Nov 2021
  13. Your blog is such a breath of fresh air! In seeing the daily challenges we face you combine a compassionate understanding of our common frailties and offer a simple, practical way to ‘act in the spirit’.

    By Claire Dunn  -  13 Nov 2021
    • You are very kind to read and comment. Thank you. The challenge for me is to be careful to do it as well as to write about it!

      By Deborah Jenkins  -  15 Nov 2021
  14. Wonderful article encouraging us to find ways to react in ‘the opposite spirit’ and to find kind and gentle ways to make a point. Thanks Deborah.

    By Sharon Blyth  -  14 Nov 2021
  15. Very insightful thoughts – ratings and evaluations are fine for human standards, but God takes the unlovely, lowly rated things of the world and makes them excellent. Look at Paul, look at the disciples, look at Moses and David and Gideon. I am trying to remember to be more loving with a particular parcel delivery company, whom I won’t name here!

    By Matt Jenkins  -  15 Nov 2021
  16. Luckily, I have no idea which delivery company you are talking about! Thank you for your comment. You make a good point about those biblical examples. Comfort for us all…

    By Deborah Jenkins  -  15 Nov 2021
  17. I rate this highly….!

    It can be important to evaluate to the best of our ability to make sure we are not being led astray .

    But sometimes when we judge others critically, it might be because we see in them the very fault that we hate in ourselves and have worked hard to overcome, perhaps with limited success. Or perhaps with success, and so why can’t they achieve it too?

    By Caroline Bacon  -  17 Nov 2021
    • I think that’s so true. Relating to the failings of others should make us more compassionate but often, for the reasons you mention, it’s the reverse. Wise words!

      By Deborah Jenkins  -  19 Nov 2021
  18. I loved your article so I read parts of your blog and now I have bought and read The Evenness of Things, mostly because i love Northumberland and Alnwick and was intrigued by the thought of buying a house without telling your husband! I enjoyed the book and look forward to the next one.

    By Gill  -  4 Dec 2021
    • Oh thank you so much, Gill! You have made my day. Happy Christmas and New Year to you!

      By Deborah Jenkins  -  28 Dec 2021

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