Another admissions scandal


Pre-school candidate par excellence.

Our son, Christopher, lives about ten minutes from a church that has the reputation, among many churched and even non-churched people, for having the absolute best pre-school in town. It’s like the USC or Stanford of pre-schools. Christopher’s daughter, Jocelyn, is three years old and eligible to attend this school in the fall. There’s only one problem. They started too late on the admissions process. A place in this school is so sought-after that the closest Joci can get to enrollment for next fall is the wait list.

Christopher knew I had some connection with this church, so he mentioned the situation to me the last time we were together and asked if I might have any pull there that might help get our granddaughter off the waiting list and into the fall class. Well, it just so happened that I was having lunch with one of the pastors there the very next day. I told him I would try.

So the next day at lunch — there were three other friends at this meeting with us — I jokingly tried to slip the pastor $10 under the table. I also mentioned, casually, that Jocelyn had won state in track & field, was a star on her soccer team, had the highest batting average in T-ball and could tread water for three minutes in her swim class. “Can she row crew?” my friend asked. “All-state this year,” I said.

In spite of all this “bribery,” my friend was pretty doubtful that he would be able to do anything. The pre-school operated separately from the church and he didn’t know anybody over there. He hadn’t even been successful getting his own relatives in. We did, however, get a good laugh over the whole idea of trying to bribe my granddaughter’s way into pre-school.

Going through this mock version of an admissions scandal taught me something. It showed me how easy it is to judge someone without putting yourself in their shoes.

It showed me how easy it would be to stretch the rules here a little bit. Who wouldn’t do whatever was in their power as a parent to get their son or daughter into the best school for them, even if it was a little bit shady? I’m sure, “Everyone is doing it,” and, “It’s just what it takes to get in these days,” were leaned on heavily as justification. And if you had the money, why wouldn’t you use it? It’s mostly going to a good cause to aid the university anyway.

The lesson here is about judgment. How easy it is to judge; how hard it is to identify with the sinner — to think I would never do such-and-such, when, given similar circumstances, I just might. Or to think on how many other things I have done that are just as bad or worse? Jesus told us very clearly and explicitly not to judge. “Do not judge” (Matthew 7:1). There’s really no getting around it. There are no qualifiers and no exceptions.

There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t judge someone for something when I am just as guilty. Jesus would tell us to go ahead and judge if we want to be judged by the same standard, but if you don’t want to be judged, leave judgment to the Lord and offer forgiveness and mercy instead. Is that not what we want for ourselves since we are all sinners and all fall short of the glory of God? And in identifying with the sinner, we are much more capable of introducing that person to Christ than if we were judging them.


Oh, and did I mention she was #1 in gymnastics?

This entry was posted in grace, parenting and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Another admissions scandal

  1. Mark D Seguin says:

    TY for the good chuckle, yet very good lesson too!

  2. Andrew P. says:

    Just last evening, my wife and I watched a new Netflix movie, “The Highwaymen.” If you aren’t familiar, it’s about the two men who tracked down Bonnie and Clyde — and executed them. The movie did a good job, I thought, in demonstrating the moral ambiguity/complexity of that situation. No, they weren’t given “due process,” but summarily executed by the lawmen (those two and a few others brought in for the final coup de grace).

    Hmmm. What would you do? (I speak not of Bonnie and Clyde, but of the lawmen; with all due respect, John, I don’t think you really meant to make the case that Jesus said NEVER under any circumstance pronounce a judgment, so I trust that you didn’t mean it quite as literally as you wrote it.) Cold-blooded murdering outlaws who actually had a “fan club,” so to speak (why, there’s no guarantee a jury would convict them!), but for whom a sane analysis would surely say, “To have any shalom requires that the earth be rid of these two.” What to do about them when you have them in your sights? Not all that easy a question. Many would judge these lawmen as being just as bad as the outlaws. But should we?

    And so, as Jesus said, don’t judge (as Dallas Willard suggested, “cultivate the uncritical spirit” might capture the idea better). In their shoes, you might act similarly. And in some cases (I’m not offering a conclusion about the Bonnie & Clyde case, specifically), that might even be the RIGHT thing to do, despite our opinions!

  3. Patrick Klever says:

    Whether or not we admit it to ourselves, we are all just one step away from doing “X”, whether “X” is lying, cheating, stealing, murdering, judging, snubbing, or whatever. Anyone who thinks any different is lying to themselves. Just ask yourself questions like “If anyone ever hurt or killed , what would I do to ensure justice?”; “What would I do if my baby was dying from hunger?”; etc. An honest answer reveals just how wretched we really are. And only then can we truly understand Grace and Mercy.

  4. Lynn Suzanne says:

    Andrew P., I wrestled with your response… because at first read it made so much sense. I read it a few times through, and I think that both you and John are talking about “judging” in the context of “seek first to understand”. It is AFTER the understanding that you and John move into different camps.
    My interpretation of what John is saying: “When a law is broken (or people make decisions/choices/etc.), seek first to understand, before judging, to remind us that our part is to offer forgiveness and mercy to one another”.
    I think you are saying, “When a law is broken (or people make decisions/choices/etc.), seek first to understand, before judging too harshly, because through that understanding we may come to agree with their judgment and resultant actions”.
    I wrestled with this because I think Jesus does not provide the “out” that judging is ok in some situations.
    I didn’t see the movie you refer to about Bonnie & Clyde…. but I think that having a deep understanding of why the lawmen executed the criminals does not justify murdering without due process.
    Understand why they did it? yes.
    Perhaps I would do the same? yes.
    Does that make their actions ok? No.
    I think Jesus is saying that I am released from the burden of judging. When laws are broken, there are consequences already in place, of which my only role might be to contribute as a member of a jury.
    When people make decisions, or choices, that I disagree with, there are a whole lot of natural consequences that may, or may not, occur…. and that is Jesus’ area.
    My area is offering forgiveness and mercy.

    • Andrew P. says:

      Thank you for giving such careful consideration to what I wrote. (One doesn’t get that sort of treatment everywhere, especially not in this “Twitter age.”) I may not have done the best job of communicating; I know I struggled with how to say what I was thinking (if I was, or am yet, completely sure what I was thinking). These are difficult concepts with which we must truly struggle. Glib answers don’t really help that much. As I’m sure you know, people love to pull “judge not” out of its context, often to use as a weapon (which is ironic) against others who are calling those people to account for one thing or another.

      I’m sure you are also aware that Jesus said to judge rightly (John 7:24), to evaluate the fruit of people’s lives (Matt. 7:15-20), and Himself pronounced woes on the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 23). He also said in one circumstance for those without sin to cast the first stone (John 8), and on two occasions told his opponents that they didn’t understand (or needed to go learn what it means) that “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Matt. 9:13, 12:7). Augustine was one of the first Christian apologists to struggle mightily with the question of warfare, and eventually established the tradition of just war theory; believers have struggled ever since to determine whether or not there is ever a war in which they should participate. Others have debated whether or not a believer ought to serve as a police officer, or jailer, or even as a legally-sanctioned executioner. And untold millions have struggled with questions regarding self-defense (either on a solely individual basis, or in the context of defending their families).

      So it’s complex. In fact, none of these questions is easy or simple. And ironically enough, once any of us has made a decision about any of these matters, there is still the temptation to bind our own conclusions on the consciences of others! (I know I have a tendency to do that, at least.)

      So to repeat what I started with, I appreciate very much that you are working hard to deal seriously and thoughtfully with matters like these. I commend you for it and urge you to keep it up!

  5. kellief4 says:

    I just have to say, Joci is just adorable! It needed to be said!

  6. Sandie says:

    Our judgement, including judging ourselves, will always be suspect because we still have the old sin nature to deal with for the rest of our lives. For myself, too many times I know I let it hold sway and I thank God Jesus is there to get me back on track.
    We are a nation of laws and we are directed emphatically as believers to obey them.
    Respectfully offered.

  7. Sandie says:

    I would respectfully add that believers are definitely called to wisely judge SITUATIONS and ACTIONS, never another person.
    In a jury situation, the jurors are directed to judge EVIDENCE presented.
    As Jesus said in John 8:1-11..”.let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” One by one the accusers slipped away, dropping their stones. I am forever dropping my stones, because I am forever picking them back up as I pass my skewed judgement on someone.

  8. jwfisch says:

    I think what will clear this up is to think of the judging that Jesus is talking about is comparing. It’s not whether someone is right or wrong, it’s whether someone is lower than me — worse than me. The log is in my eye, the speck is in the other person’s.

    • And that’s where we all fall short.
      There is still something in someone’s eye whether large or small.
      Whether you or me.
      We may compensate for our own insecurity by choosing to ignore the log in our own eye while focusing our blurred vision on the others’ speck and, therefore, becoming the types of people Jesus often rebuked.
      Or, also, we too often fix our gaze on the speck in our own eye and see it as a log when it’s really not that large. But again, due to insecurity, we judge ourselves as being unworthy or incomparable to others who seem to have their logs whittled down to size and their acts together – most likely false assumptions.
      It’s truly a matter of perspective.
      And a matter of faith in a God who created the eyes, can cleanse them for us, and restore our vision so we can see how He sees – clearly and honestly.
      Jesus is the only Visine that will wipe away our red-eyes of insecurity and judgment. And, when we accept the fact that we all have a foreign object in our eyes and we all need a daily (or hourly) dose of His powerful eyewash, then we can all move forward.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.