Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Jumping to Conclusions

I committed an act of horrible hypocrisy lately. I absolutely hate it when people jump to conclusions regarding me or our ministry here at Grace without all of the information needed to formulate their conclusions (and it happens all the time). But recently, I did the same thing in a very extreme way. Here at Grace Church we have a very effective filtering system on all of our computers and each student and staff member has their own personal accounts. Realizing that those of us who have laptops often surf the net away from the office, we have added a system on all of our laptops that not only filters but it also sends a report to each employee’s supervisor weekly that lists the websites they have gone to or even attempted to log on to. One of these laptops is used in the Youth Room.

Last week I received a report that on a certain day and time someone attempted to log on to some objectionable sites on the laptop in the youth room. The report gave the key words that were used in search engines which quickly caused my heart to sink. Because you must have an account here at the church to get on the internet, I knew it would be easy to identify the individual out of the hundreds of students and staff members by simply looking into the logs and seeing whose account was using that laptop at that specific time. However, I do not have access to these logs and since I received this e-mail alert on a Saturday morning, I had to wait until Monday morning to have our Business office look up the logs and get me this piece of information.

So what did I do in the meantime? I spent 48 hours playing a kind of “Live Clue” game to try to determine “who done it!” I printed off a detailed report of the internet usage surrounding that time period in the youth room. As I scanned down the pages of websites gone to, I tried to determine the guilty party. By the time Monday morning rolled around, I was pretty sure of my conclusion. I got to the office Monday before the business office opened and wrote an e-mail to the supervisor of the person I was more than certain was guilty with my recommendations of action steps to take. I didn’t send the e-mail (thank goodness!) because I needed the business office to tell me who was on the computer at that time so that I had my “smoking gun”!

Ends up, it was all a false alarm. We had been having trouble with the filtering system on that one computer and on that particular day one of the ladies on our support team had been on the phone with the company trying to get the matter resolved. When the provider felt they had the filtering system working they had this lady support staff member type in a couple of those “key words” to make sure it was being blocked. It was! On one hand I was relieved because you never want to deal with a staff member or student who has fallen to those kinds of temptations. But on the other hand, I was sick to my stomach. I had jumped to conclusions and was ready to initiate a confrontation before I had all of the pertinent information. The very thing I hate when it is done to me I had done to someone else. There are times when Biblical judging is needed (unfortuantely today this is very nuch abused, especially in the blogosphere) but all too often we jump to conclusions based on insufficient information and cast a shadow over a person or a ministry that is completely unfair and untrue. Boy, did I learn a lesson.

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