It’s been distressing to watch the Supreme Court justice nominee’s hearing and the events leading up to it. Issues of personal safety certainly are at stake. I feel very sad. However, I’m not stating my position regarding the people questioned because I want you, my friends and readers, to think for yourselves. I hope you will not stop reading but consider my criteria for making wise decisions about leadership in general.
As the following proverb states, we must all learn to be discerning.
“A naive person believes everything,
but the shrewd person discerns his steps.”- Proverbs 14:15 NET
Naïve is not a word that I often see on Facebook. I think it deserves some consideration. What does it mean to be naive? This is one dictionary definition: “having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information”.
As the above Proverb tells us, there’s a danger in being naïve. We have a tendency to take shortcuts and to make quick judgments and hasty decisions without thoughtfully examining evidence and asking pertinent questions.
We can be tricked into believing safe people are dangerous and dangerous people are safe. How do we know who is safe and who is not? Jesus gave us an important clue when he said, “Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.” He did not say, “Beware of sheep in wolves’ clothing” because a sheep never wears a wolf’s clothing. Sheep are not out to deceive people. They’re just set on following a path and they need guidance in order to find the right path. They need a shepherd.
When Jesus looked at the crowds of people in the world around him, he said that they were like sheep without a shepherd. I don’t think much has changed since his day. The world is full of sheep. Sheep can easily be deceived. They need a shepherd.
That shepherd needs to be a safe person. A safe person is someone with integrity. Someone who never deceives us. Someone who always tells the truth. Someone who is patient, kind, and good. Someone who does not expect perfection. Someone who does not condemn us when we fall down. Someone who walks beside us and helps us recognize dangers, not only points them out but teaches us to recognize the dangers ourselves. Someone who teaches us how to have discernment.
We need to have knowledge and discernment. We need to ask questions. We need to know what questions to ask. Appearances can be deceiving. A safe shepherd does not go around comparing one sheep with other sheep. They are all equally cared for and protected. He or she does not condemn sheep. He or she does not go around causing divisions among the sheep. A safe shepherd brings sheep together and teaches them to live in peace, unity, and understanding.
Because his or her self-worth is settled, a safe shepherd confidently makes decisions. He or she is not looking for approval or even acceptance. Nor is a safe shepherd hungry for power or control. A safe shepherd has control of his or her own life, shows us how to gain control of ourselves, and assists us in escaping the control of abusive shepherds.
When I look at the world today, I’m concerned. I see a lot of naïve sheep and very few safe shepherds. Yet I do not despair because Jesus is still alive. As we look to him, listen to his words, and follow the guidance of the Spirit he has given us, we will gain discernment and not be deceived by wolves dressed as shepherds.
Prudence and naivety were walking down the road.
Soon they met a stranger who offered them some food.
Naivety just swallowed it; she thought all things were good.
But prudence first examined it; she wisely understood . . .
Appearance can deceive us; we must be very shrewd.
Things, which at first taste sweet, can turn sour when they’re chewed.
Jane Ault 2002