“Take a card!” I love this phrase. It will be engrained in my memory forever. It was said by Jack Easterby, a former mentor to our kids who is now the team chaplain for the New England Patriots, among other things in ministry. His website is http://thegreatestchampion.org.
Our family, especially our kids, have been fortunate enough in their high school and early college years to have Jack pour into them while he was with FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) in Columbia. He started “Gamecocks for Christ” at the University of South Carolina which has ministered to hundreds. Even though our kids did not attend USC, Jack faithfully continued to minister to them while they were away at college.
Jack taught our kids many things; but one of the most memorable things in my mind was how to make assessments of people. Jack is very wise and ahead of our kids in life and experience. He is very gifted in communicating truth (scripture). While the kids were in high school, they received some valuable one-on-one discipleship with Jack. One day, while Thomas and Collins were at home and Jack was over discipling (what he does so well), he talked to our kids about reading people.
At the time, our kids were struggling to figure out friendships. They both had been disappointed and hurt by others that they didn’t expect to be hurt by……..Jack walked them through much scripture, sharing what the Bible says about “man disappointing us,” but “God never would disappoint”. He also said….”God does not lie” but “people do.” These principles are seen throughout scripture:
Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
Numbers 23:19, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”
What I loved most is how he taught our kids to make judgements and evaluate people. He taught them to not necessarily put a whole lot of value on what people say, but to put a ton of value on what they do. He called it taking cards. He told them to take a card as they interacted with someone (make a mental note on them….an observation). He said that pretty soon they would be able to gather enough cards about that person. With cards in hand, step back and look at the cards they dealt….those cards would help them discern many things about the person….and who they truly are; not what or who they said they were.
Now, years later…when my kids and I are having a heart to heart about discernment of someone….we talk about “cards” and looking back at the hand they have been dealt by that person over time…..When I encourage them to do that ….things become clearer to them…….Jack not only taught them an important way to discern who people really were, but to also examine the kind of cards we deal to other people about ourselves.
My mom would say “people leave a trail”. Go back and look at their tracks and you will know all that you need to know. There is always grace that needs to be extended…..for sure….I have dealt some 2’s and 3’s when I have been the dealer.
I wish I could say I have dealt all Aces but that is just not true. But when your are teaching people how to discern…..a great place to start is by asking….are you holding a winning hand or is it a bad hand?
I hope you get this great analogy…Whenever there is discussion in our houses now on discernement , whether it is a girl or boy they have met or a new professor or a boss…or a potential roommate or friend….the first thing I ask them to do is “show me your cards”…hoping they have made enough “observations” that allow the hand they are holding to tell them whether they have a “good hand” or a “bad hand”.
At 52, one of the things I mentor is what I learned from Jack…God is the only one to judge a man’s heart…but we, throughout life, have to make “judgements” about people we marry, people we do business with, and people we live with or allow to influence us or consider to be friends. Judging someone’s character and integrity is key. I love what Henry Blackaby says, “Your character is who you are when no one is looking and what you are willing to stand for when someone is looking!” I love that.
I have encouraged many kids to check their friendships, not when they win or when things are going well for them…friends usually flock…but take cards when the chips are down. It is a great way to make “judgements” on treasured friends for sure.
That doesn’t apply to just young people….several years ago…I realized through my scripture study and quiet time that I needed to be a better friend. I had let too many distractions hinder me from being that true friend and even down to being a better sister. I had to go back and “apologize” for not being there for them when their chips were down. They gave me “grace!” I love the saying “to have a friend learn to be that friend!” So true! I daily ask God to show me how to be a true friend.
I also remember years ago when I was first married…Bill, my husband, watched me continually get my feelings hurt by a “friend”…someone I thought was my friend…Bill had been taking “cards”. I had not. Finally, one day he said….as I was crying…”Sherry…..this person is NOT your friend!” He continued to give me at least 4 to 5 observations of their actions, not their words…..I was blind…I had only been “listening” to what they said not what they did!
From then on…I was freed from the hurt…I still was nice and cordial to that person but I stopped trying…..funny thing……over time….Bill proved to be right…
What is the take away here? It is two-fold. Don’t be quick to judge. Take a card. Look for pairs–words and actions lining up. Look in the mirror as well. Are your words and actions matching up? Do you need to deal some new cards?
Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times…”