For the past three years, I’ve taught ELAR (English Language Arts and Reading). One thing I always stress to my students when researching, writing, and citing sources is the importance of assessing their sources and differentiating reliable sources from unreliable sources, and primary sources from secondary sources.
As I grow older, and prayerfully wiser, I realize children in a classroom are not the only ones who need to develop a practice for assessing sources. With the growth of reality TV, social media, TV evangelism, talk shows, blogging, etc., everyone has something to say…everybody has a book to write. The problem is we very seldom consider the reliability or track record of the people dispensing the information.
How often do we assess the individuals we give our ears, and moreover our spirits to? How many times have we looked pass the TALK to truly examine the WALK?
Whether in elementary school, high school…graduate school, or law school, there is a common thread of key standards to assessing sources:
(1) VERIFIABILITY – Is the person/information verifiable? Can what is being said be confirmed?
(2) STABILITY/CONSISTENCY – Will this information stand or endure over time, or is it based on what’s popular at the moment?
(3) CREDENTIALS – What qualifies this person and the information dispensed? What type of studying or research has this person performed? Does this person hold an accredited degree or certificate in this area?
(4) EXPERIENCE/KNOWLEDGE – How does this person’s life and experience relate to what is being said? More importantly, how does this person’s life (relationship, marriage, parenting, etc.) parallel what I want for my own?
(5) INTENT/INTENDED AUDIENCE – What is the ultimate goal of this person/information, and who or what is it really intended? Am I characteristic of that audience?
I encourage you to use these simple standards for assessment the next time you proceed to take advice. Don’t base your life decisions on the latest New York best seller or the celebrity talk show host with the highest ratings. Don’t take advice in a particular area from someone with a shaky track record in that area. Instead, pray and seek God about His plans and your desires for your life. Then determine whether the source is capable of steering you in that direction.
Be cautious of jumping on the “band wagon” because it may not be carrying what you truly desire in your own life and future.
Peace and Blessings,