I want to write up a post about how to have discernment. Yes, it is a discipline!
Be it in a small town, a church, or a corporate entity, there’s always a conflict or two that arises between people. And, sometimes that conflict is on a very, Very, VERY personal level. It sucks. But it happens. And when (not if) you find yourself even remotely close to the situation, I want to give you a few things to consider.
How to have the discipline of discernment:
You’ve heard that there’s always three sides to every story: Her side, His side, and then the Truth. That’s somewhat true, but let’s look at how to get to the Truth without all the drama.
Believe only evidence. If you’re a detective, if you’re a pastor, or perhaps a manager at a business, you’ve got to get evidence FIRST, then words SECOND. Do not do this in reverse or it will mess up your objectivity!
- If one person is claiming that they can prove something b/c of their text messages on their phone, sit both individuals down and tell both of them to log into their phone company and print their detailed bill. More than likely one person will gladly print a log of their cell phone. The other person will have an excuse as to why they can’t seem to ….log into their account …find their text message log …their account was ‘hacked’ ….they magically don’t know their password anymore ….or any number of reasons. Make a note of that persons actions
Um, I can’t remember my login.
I don’t know my password.
I think my phone account was hacked by the NSA.
I got mine.
Here ‘ya go
Here’s the whole bill, text messages start right there on page 3.
- Ask both people for their cell phones. At this point, you’re going to probably have at least one person’s detailed bill. You might have two, but don’t forget that one of the two individuals has something to hide. Now, armed with either one or two of the text message logs, look at the text messages that are on the phone.
- Do you see incoming and out going messages on the bill that are not on the phone? Most folks don’t habitually delete text messages. Behaviorally, they simply read the message, then get on with whatever they were doing. Let me say this again ~ most people do not delete text messages. People who’ve got nothing to hide do not make a purposeful effort to hide anything. ….ever!
At this point, you’re going to start getting a better picture of who is being deceptive and which person is telling the truth. One person is always going to be more transparent and forthcoming with third-party evidence. The other person is going to seemingly only be forthcoming with their words. Almost in a frantic type of “no-wait-don’t-look-at-that-reality! Believe-my-claim-that-I’m-filling-your-ears-with!” they want their words to trump everything. And you can lather, rinse, repeat this same process for emails, Facebook chats, or virtually anything else.
The difficult part about discernment is that most people won’t take the time to DO THE RIGHT THING before they make a decision. A manager will hastily decide to do something based solely from a person’s words. A pastor will decide to get a ‘good-ol-southern-boy’ hero complex and rush to believe a certain gender over another and take action. An officer will hasten to do what they’ve been taught or ‘profiled’ to do in a certain situation.
The only problem there is…
What happens if your judgement is wrong?
I remember a few years ago when I was accused of doing something. Pastors, community members, and even some close friends simply concluded “Well, that’s what [person] said” and that’s where their discernment stopped. At the same time, there were other pastors, detectives, judges, friends, and church members, who did have a healthy level of disciplined discernment. And, anytime I wanted to, I could simply send a dropbox link that was full of videos, emails, text messages, and Facebook chats. About 90% of the time, I never even had to utter a word. I simply sent the link and let those with questions come to their own conclusion.
I’ll never have to argue with someone whether I did it or not, and here’s why: I had the luxury of transparency on my side!
- I had set up a nanny cam recorder thingy in the house
- I was forthcoming with all my cell phone records
- When I could ‘sense’ that a situation was about to go south, I simply clicked the record button on my phone
- When she got the bright idea to delete the videos off my phone, I simply took it up to Best Buy and had them recover both the files AND what time the files were deleted
See, I’ve been through this scenario before: he said, she said on a very personal level. The people having the discipline of discernment had a really easy and simple time finding the Truth. Why? Well, simply because I gave it to them.
But that’s not the point.
- The point is to find the truth.
- Act as someone who does have the capacity to have disciplined discernment.
- Think as an objective detective would.
- Don’t be so quick to come to a conclusion unless you have actual evidence.
- If you do not have third-party, objective evidence, then you need to come to the realization that you do NOT have the right to pass judgement simply based on he said / she said.
It sucks that we live in a world where a person’s integrity can be either verified or demolished via our digital footprint, but …it’s true. And most of the time, the he said / she said almost always involves some type of digital communication.
Let me say again….
If you don’t have anything objective then you do not have the right knowledge to even pass judgement, let alone make a conclusion and take action based on that lack of evidence.