In today’s economy, you have to be really sharp to stand out over all those other applicants competing for the job you want. For example, I’ve heard that the following was a question used as part of a job application, designed to test good judgment:
“You’re driving down a winding, rain-slicked road on a dangerous, stormy night. You pass a bus stop where three people are waiting for the bus. One is an elderly woman who appears to be very ill. The second is someone you recognize as a friend who once saved your life. The third is someone who you, in hindsight, recognize you should have married years before. (They later revealed that given the opportunity, they would be now open to your entreaties.) You have room in your sports car for only one other person. Which one would you offer a ride?”
Before clicking through, think about how you would answer this question.
In your answer, you could justifiably pick up the elderly lady since her condition is the most precarious. Or you could pay back the friend who saved your life. Or you could pick up your mate and live happily ever after. Each of these decisions might tell the interviewer something about your priorities.
The successful candidate, out of 200 who applied, indicated that you should give the car keys to the old friend and let him or her take the sick woman to the hospital, while you sit with the love of your life awaiting the bus. I loved that answer! It showed compassion, trust, and ardor, as well as a great deal of creativity. I believe that creativity is extremely important in exercising judgment.
One biblical illustration of this ability is the story of Solomon, when judging in his role as king. Two women came before him claiming the same child was theirs. After deliberating, he decreed that the infant be divided in two with a sword, with half given to one woman and half to the other. One of the women relented, and was willing to give up the baby so he would not be killed. By this Solomon knew that she was the true mother. Solomon’s wisdom and creativity in solving this and many other challenges became legendary. He became a powerful national ruler. Not only was he the administrator who oversaw the building of the First Temple in Jerusalem, he was also a noted lover and poet. King Solomon had 700 wives (and 300 concubines) and is the attributed author of “The Song of Songs.” It is the only book of the Bible that deals openly with sexual love, and which reputedly takes as its subject matter his intense affair with the Queen of Sheba. In apocryphal traditions, Solomon could communicate with both animals and demons. He is well known in the occultist field as one who could control spiritual forces, as attested by the Medival grimoires that bear his name as author, “The Key of Solomon” and “The Lesser Key of Solomon.” By all accounts, he was an intelligent, passionate, many-faceted and creative leader.
Interestingly, Solomon is a Biblical character who was given two names by God. When Solomon was born, the prophet Nathan received word from the Lord that this child is loved by God. Hence he named him Jedidiah (2 Sam 12:25), although this name is never again used. Instead we know him by Solomon, an name given to him by his father, David. David explains that the word of the Lord came unto him, saying “Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon (Shlomo), and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days.” (1 Chron 22:9) The Hebrew name Shlomo is taken from the same root as the word “shalom.” It means peace, or completeness.
The Savior showed the same qualities of creativity in judgment in several instances. When asked the hard questions, he often turned things around, as he did with the woman taken in adultery. Instead of either supporting the law of punishing an adulterer, or overturning that law, he asked the stone-throwers to look inside themselves and “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” (John 8:1-11)
I think that one of the ways to achieve peace and completeness in our world and in our LDS wards is to cultivate creative judgment such as Solomon, Jesus, and our anonymous job applicant showed. In the 1970’s conflict resolution by win-win strategy became extremely popular. There was a proliferation of group-dynamic games emphasizing the importance of cooperation, fun, sharing, caring and overall group success in contrast to domination, egoistic behavior and personal gain. In these games all players are treated as equally important and valuable. The “I’m OK, You’re OK” model of transactional analysis helped thousands of people use creative ways of judgment which did not posit a loser and a winner. I would love to see some of these strategies brought back and used in the LDS “court of love” system. Too often, the accused member is brought before the tribunal in a “not OK” paradigm and either retained as a penitent or cut off without consideration of paths to peace and completeness for all concerned.
Creativity, empathy and the ability to envision different solutions are qualities that I value highly. In fact, because of his humor and out-of-the-box thinking, I might even give credence to the prospect who suggested this on his application:
“The driver should run over the elderly woman, put her out of her misery, fulfill any unrequited desires with the love of his life, and then drive off with the friend who saved his life for some strawberry margaritas at Pancho’s on the Strand!”
I enjoy watching people in Church, family, and work environments employ unusual win-win and I’m OK — You’re OK strategies for themselves and others to create peaceful and healing solutions to challenges they face.