Family Feud and Discretion

Family Feud is a long-running game show that pits one family against another in a contest to see who can guess the most popular answers to survey questions. Families work together to brainstorm the answers with the highest point values. It’s a testimony to teamwork, quick thinking, and intuitive knowledge.

One particular question, and the answer it invited, however, had the potential to divide rather than unite two families.

Two men stood facing each other. Terry, a spit-shined Marine sergeant, wore dress blues. Steve, a clean-cut young professional, wore a pressed shirt and tie. Squared off and determined to win the round, their hands were poised to strike the buzzers. Each was eager to answer the question first and take top points.

Until Steve Harvey, the show’s host, asked the question:  

“We asked 100 married men this question: Which of the Seven Dwarfs would you say describes your wife in bed?” 

There was a long, still pause.

Terry moved first, but it wasn’t to strike his buzzer. He raised his eyebrows, looked at his competitor, and slowly shook his head. Steve responded with a head shake of his own, and their mutual agreement affirmed what they both knew—no amount of money was worth divulging information that wasn’t appropriate to share.

Neither men struck the buzzer, and the question remained unanswered.

“Discretion,” Shakespeare said, “is the better part of valor.”

The writer of Proverbs agreed. “Discretion will protect you,” he wrote, “and understanding will guard you” (Prov. 2:11).

It is a wise man (and woman) who knows when to speak and when to be silent. In our cyberspace-driven world, most of us know more than we care to about each other’s lives.

We know what someone had for breakfast, whether her kids are behaving, and, unfortunately, when she's had a falling out with her husband or significant other. We share how annoying our mothers-in-laws are, how much we hate our jobs, and how badly the burrito with extra jalapenos upset our digestive tracts.

We don’t think before we click, and we fail to exercise discretion. This lack of discretion isn’t limited to the cyber world, however. We roast our husbands over lattes, share our families’ foibles over French fries, and divulge our friends’ concerns about their children over Chinese.

We fail to establish conversational boundaries that respect the privacy of others. In doing so, we harm them.

We harm ourselves, too.

Like the two men who chose to suffer loss rather than risk embarrassing or hurting their wives, however, there is another option. We can employ this litmus test to anything we say, text, tweet, or post:

We can ask three questions:

Is it true?

Is it kind?

Does it need to be said?

If a statement makes it through this filter, we have exercised discretion and protected ourselves and others by what we have chosen not to say.

“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips,” the psalmist prayed. (Ps. 141:3). This should be our prayer as well.

May we glorify God with our words, both spoken and unspoken.

Here's the video clip that prompted this post. If you're reading by email, click here to watch this classic 16-second video.

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1 comment:

  1. Great reminder. Thanks. Love the video!