Len & Kit's Missionary Adventures in California

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Good or Bad? You Be the Judge!

At last week’s transfer, 5 elders and 1 sister completed their missions and 6 new sisters began their missions.
Weather is quite tolerable, highs of eighties for a few days – way better than AZ’s unrelenting heat by mid June.

For a long time now I have been contemplating what it means to have good judgment and how we can learn or teach good judgment.  Partly, perhaps mostly, my musings over years are the result of recognizing that no matter how many birthdays I celebrate, I sometimes still fail in matters of judgment, though hopefully less often and less egregiously.  Being on a mission has provided additional material for consideration since I am around a great many young people who, in spite of their commitment, idealism, and good intentions, have plenty of opportunities to exercise poor judgment.  I have spent time on various websites over months trying to gain insight about why people make poor choices.  Here are a few ideas I have gathered, mixed in with my own thoughts.

Judgment is the evaluation of evidence to make a decision.  Judgment is being able to weigh your opinions accurately. Good judgment translates information into knowledge, enabling you to find patterns and predict meaningful events.

There can be a big difference between making a decision and making a good decision.
Good judgment uses the process of critical thinking whereas poor judgment does not.
Best judgment can also involve praying for guidance to do what is best.

“Critical thinking” means being able to apply logic to make your decisions regardless of other’s opinions. It includes:

  • Identifying a problem /challenge/ situation
  • Discriminating between fact and opinion
  • Identifying personal, family, societal values that conflict with the problem/challenge/situation.  This is where moral and religious/spiritual values can also play a big part.
  • Listing possible solutions and their consequences. Counting the cost: “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” Luke 14:28 KJV
  • What I call “Critical Thinking Plus” is making personal prayer and inspiration a part of the process. NOTE: Prayer has been recognized scientifically as positive and useful in various situations, particularly health related.
  • Taking a defensible position based on both logic and inspiration.
  • Counting the cost seems to be one of the hardest things for the young: recognizing that footballs are not good indoor toys, that you will run short if you don’t budget your money, that driving infractions can have consequences, etc.,etc.

Responsible behavior means being liable; taking responsibility for one’s actions, behavior, belongings, space.  Responsible behavior is not the cause of maturity; it is the result of maturity. Doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done, whether you want to or not, is a sign of maturity. 

Obedience is one kind of responsible behavior, but it depends on whom you obey and your reasons for obeying.  For me, understanding and obeying the Judeo-Christian ethic upon which our government and laws were based, including faith in  God, is key.  Recognizing and acknowledging that our actions affect others and caring how our actions impact others is a step up to morality.  Giving service to society is the highest level of responsible behavior.  Choosing to serve others is doing the right thing for the right reason i.e., because it is who I am, or because it is the right thing to do.

Good judgment means considering risks and consequences and weeding out decisions that may cause harmful or disastrous consequences. When we are able to make a conscious decision whether or not to do something that is harmful or helpful to us and to others, using good judgment can improve the quality of our lives and the lives of those around us..

The way we individually look at things, our attitudes, also impact our judgment.  We must learn to know ourselves: Is it important to us to be right thinking, decent people, or not?  Do we concentrate on details or the big picture? Do we pay more attention to possible risks or rewards? Do we follow our intuition or rely on facts?  When we are aware of our inner biases, we can overcome them or at least control them.  To have great judgment, we must learn to take responsibility for our mistakes and change instead of being in denial by blaming others, ignoring or distorting the facts.  We must nurture qualities of learning from our mistakes instead of repeating them, and of being open and teachable when we recognize truth.

Hopefully I can draw personal conclusions that will help me when I am tempted to resort to poor judgment!