Friday, February 24, 2017

The Power a Judge Holds

There's a big competition that happens annually throughout the United States that is called the US Academic Decathlon, informally called AcaDeca. This year I was asked by a friend to serve as a Judge. I had no idea what I was in for but since I became aware of this competition, I have had a peripheral interest in it, as it represents academic excellence. I keep my eye on these things just in case a child of mine can participate. So being a judge was a perfect way to learn how this competition works, but it turned out to be more than that.

AcaDeca is an intense competition; a theme is picked annually and each school has a team dedicated to this endeavor. Basically, as a student, you spend all of your free time studying for this competition. What's unique about this competition is that a team is made up of A students, B students, and C students - A, B & C being their GPA. I like the message that sends because so often in schools it seems that the A students are automatically selected for every honor and the others are left out. But this is a team competition so everyone has to work together.

I was asked to be a judge for the interview portion of the competition. We were given an orientation that day on how to be an interview judge. As a judge, we worked in teams and decided which questions to ask the students. We were looking to see how poised, confident and comfortable the competitors were. After each interview which lasted for 7 minutes we then rated them. As an interview judge, it was my job to ensure that they answered the questions. There was no right or wrong answer to any of the questions - for example, "Based on your circle of friends, what would they say about you?"

Some of the competitors were so coached or so scripted we never got to see who they were. Others realized that they could let their true selves shine through without negative ramifications. And some were so shy and tense, we had to work really hard to get them to open 7 minutes. We judged based on the behavior they presented to us.

As judges we were in a powerful position - our scores for this section of the competition determined how the team performed overall. The competitors did not take it lightly neither did we (though we had more fun!)

The Book of Judges is named as such because it details the Israelites exploits after Joshua died while living in the conquered land of Canaan. But you know the Israelites were all too human just like us so they fluctuated in their devotion to God. Judges specifically states, "Whenever the Lord raised up a judge over Israel, he was with that judge and rescued the people from their enemies throughout the judge’s lifetime. For the Lord took pity on his people, who were burdened by oppression and suffering. But when the judge died, the people returned to their corrupt ways, behaving worse than those who had lived before them. They went after other gods, serving and worshiping them. And they refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways." (Judges 2:18-19 [NLT])

My role as a judge was minuscule compared to the judges that God raised up to lead and deliver Israel. Nonetheless, the judge played an important role - they kept order, followed God's laws, brokered disputes,  and was the final authority next to God. Their authority was recognized however, a judge was different from a king in that he/she did not have the authority of a king.

We minimize judging today; we get upset when we feel we're being judged and this is only the case when our actions don't align with the standard of the person doing the judging. Granted, if the individual's heart or motive is wrong, then they will be judging wrongly. But that's not what upsets most people - it is the actual knowledge of being judged that lets them know that they have deviated from a standard. It's being called out - but there is a way to do this.

Judging happens and judging is necessary. If we weren't judging that important aspect of the competition, the outcomes may have been different. If God hadn't sent judges, the Israelites would not have had relief from their enemies' oppression.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll break down what judging actually entails and how the Israelites were affected by the Judges that God used to deliver them.

And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness. Psalms 9:8

Have you ever been a judge? What was it like?


  1. I haven't been a judge. That sounds like a big job. I hope all goes well. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great thoughts Nysle. I look forward to the following series on this topic. Judging is a topic largely debated on lately, I would love to know what God thinks about it...
    Have a super blessed day!


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