I Am Judge

by "Win"

What good will it be for a man if he wins the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? -- Matt.16:26
This is based on a true story. Parts have been fictionalized for dramatic effect.
Some contrary-to-Reality ideas expressed here are explained in the Notes

I am a (MBTI) Judger. I like being Judgmental, coming to quick decisions and telling people what to do. It's who I am, and I am good at it. Obviously I cannot tell everybody what to do, but I can climb the corporate ladder and increase my influence, increasing the number of people I get to control and reducing the number above me. The trouble is, people in a business must be productive and make money for the company in order to survive. It's dog-eat-dog. I'm good at it, except when the startup I work for gets bought out by a bigger company that is not managed well. That has happened to me three times now. I'm in sales support. There's a lot of money in sales, but the support people don't have to do the actual selling. It's not a bad life, but climbing the ladder is harder under bad management.

Money is power. Obviously the corporate owners have the most control because they have the most money, but one day I will be there. I manage money carefully. You make money fastest when you own your own business. I did that for a while, a vending machine business, but it was small potatoes, always looking for the best prices in soda and making only a few cents on each can, and manually loading each can into the machines. To really make money, you need to leverage other people's work. So I got out of the vending machine business and went into multi-level marketing (MLM). My friend Tom pointed out that basically I was skimming the cream off my down-line, and they did all the work; my only effort was inspiration and motivation (control). He was right. That was the trouble: he was always right, but I'm getting ahead of myself. So I got out of that. Now whatever time I'm not on the job (working for somebody else) I'm using to develop real estate holdings. "Buy land," Mark Twain famously said, "they've stopped making it." [1]

Then there is religion. It's another power trip, a big hierarchy to climb up, and vast numbers of willing people to control -- far more than at work. People who come to church want to be told what to do, and the church hierarchy is eager to do that. The best kind of church for controllers like me is a young independent megachurch. There's no denominational hierarchy to set rules, and a charismatic founding pastor usually doesn't know much about corporate management, so an enterprising guy like myself can climb to a position of power fairly quickly. You leave the founder there as a figurehead, and all the power is in his lieutenants. That second tier in this church has a lot of power -- I recently saw how it worked -- and I think I can take one of those jobs. This church requires volunteering as a condition for membership, and already I'm captain of the coffee team. I can do this.

I live in "the buckle of the Bible Belt," and everybody who is anybody is a church member somewhere, preferably a large church populated by movers and shakers. In Texas that is usually Baptist, but theBaptists have denominational imperatives to cling to, so there's less opportunity for growth (if you know what I mean ;-) Now I'm in a young independent megachurch, actually a startup satellite campus in a suburb ten miles north of the main campus. The sermons are piped in on a video feed from the main campus, and the senior pastor there preaches pretty good (he attracts a lot of guys, but not so much in the satellites), and they need new leadership here as this satellite grows, and I'm going to be it.

My God-given ministry is command-and-control, and like I said, I'm good at it. That's why MLM was working for me better than vending machines: I was basically telling other people what to do, and making money from their labors. They could do that too -- that's the "multi" of MLM -- so it's not taking unfair advantage. Tom said there is no profit at all unless somebody actually sells product, so whoever is on the bottom tier is stuck there with most of the profit from his labor going to his up-line. When the market is saturated then nobody can grow their down-line, which means the first guys in reap all the profits, and the last in... Tom said it's a Ponzi scheme, contrary to the Golden Rule (he calls it the Second Great Commandment "2C"). He's a mathematician, and you can't argue math with a mathematician. I hate that!

The church hierarchy is different. God Himself set that up and told Christians to "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority." [Heb.13:17] That is such a cool verse. I can work myself into a leadership position, and then God commands people to "submit" to my authority [2]. How cool is that? Anyway, I'm developing a relationship with the leaders. One of them is "Director of Control" (or something like that, maybe less obvious), and he has no counterpart on my campus, so it's a natural for me.

I met Tom in email. He's really smart [3] -- reads Greek and Hebrew and is very logical -- but he's such a jerk. He just won't leave well-enough alone. You can't get anything done if you keep rehashing old ideas after you've arrived at the truth [4], but that's what Tom does. Controllers like me -- that includes corporate management and church leaders -- think fast, arrive at a decision, implement it, and move on. If mistakes are made, it's better to ask forgiveness than permission, and strong people (like me again) don't bother with the forgiveness (apologizing is a sign of weakness). Tom is strange, I think he's a Judger, but he denies it. He sure is strong, he wins every argument. Why can't I do that? I will do it! It's just a matter of showing who's in control. Perceivers (the lay people in the church, the worker drones in the corporate world, and most of my family members) are weak, always apologizing. You just tell them what to do, and they do it. Sometimes they whine a lot (Tom does that), but they never win any arguments. They don't even want to. Tom is strange, he's got to be a Judger like me, but he's always right. I can't get over it. How does he do that?

So Tom and I have been doing email for many years, and I learned a lot. I now think I can beat him, I just need the right circumstances. I talked him into moving to the Dallas area, gave him a good deal on a house I had been renting -- actually the price was set by my wife, it was her house when we got married, but taking credit for the positives is a sign of strength -- and he started coming to the same church. We usually did brunch after church, and he's quiet and submissive in person [5], not at all the dominative jerk he is in email.

Tom is an idiot. The Director guy put on this "training program" -- it's supposed to make obedient little zombies out of everybody, and the smart Judgers (me ;-) just ease through and don't make waves -- but Tom decided to take on this guy. In email, out of the blue! What kind of stupid is that? Technically Tom was right, but you don't win that way, it's the power that counts, not the truth. Tom says he doesn't care about winning, but that's a crock [6]. Perceivers don't care about winning, but Tom obviously isn't one of those, at least not in email, because he's always winning [7]. Except this time. I mean, that Director guy is a pro. He did some time in the Army, and the Army is all about command and control, and he has it cold. With total deniability. Like he didn't lift a finger, just a couple of select phone calls, and Wham! Tom is out of that church so fast his ears are ringing. Tom claims he saw it coming, yet he didn't do anything to prevent it. What kind of stupid is that?

I really want that Director guy's job. Total control. I met him once, and "broke bread" with him. He is so awesome! When he puts the reality warp on you, you just know he's God's Gift to humanity, I mean like he could be Angel #2 when you are with him. I need to learn how to do that. Tom taught me about truth and the Golden Rule, but he does not understand total control like this guy. Truth is so second place to control, when he puts the buzz on you, you believe it's true, even if it isn't. I need to learn how to do that. I don't have that guy's education so I probably can't displace him, but I could be next in line on the remote campus.

Anyway, Tom is now out of that church, and he still refuses to submit. That's how I know he's not a Perceiver. But he has lost so big, he doesn't know how to get back on his feet. In a church context "lost" means "wicked" so I tried to explain this to him, and he doesn't get it. He calls it "false accusation" like it's a lie or something. So what? Everybody is a liar [8], it even says so in the Bible [Ps.116:11, Jer.17:9, Rom.3:4]. OK, I try not to say things that are false, but it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission, you know? Make a guess, and if I get caught, apologize. Or not (because apologizing is a sign of weakness). It's not like I knew it wasn't true. Like the Director guy.

But Tom is so full of lies [9], he doesn't even know what is true any more. I stopped reading his email because it's so negative. If he wants any more to do with me, he needs to submit. I can force that in a face-to-face [10], so I told him that's what it has to be. I figured it was safe, he's been refusing to deal with important issues in face-to-face (or even in a telephone call: he pretends he is non-functional in real time, but that's just another lie) for years. He said he would come, but I just ignored him. You don't win by letting him call the shots, you know what I mean? My middle name is "Win" and by golly I will win. [11]


The basic principles expressed in this semi-fictional memoir are explained in my blog post "How to Win" and some of its links. Maybe "Win" didn't actually think all these things -- at least not consciously -- but he sure acts like he did. These notes explain some of the particulars from my perspective... -- Tom Pittman

[1] Property values (like everything else) work on supply and demand: they only go up when there's an increasing population to drive up the prices. That was true when Mark Twain said it, but much less so today with abortion killing off most of the increase. Ten years ago the Dallas area was the fastest growing in Texas, now it's behind a half-dozen other cities. Whenever there are profits to be made, the profit-takers will crowd in and the profit goes away. It's the nature of a "zero-sum game".

[2] A careful reading of Heb.13:17 shows that the required submission is subject to the leaders submitting to God, which among other things, means that they are in compliance with Luke 22:25,26 (not lording it over the laity). Anybody savoring the control is automatically disqualified.

[3] People often say that of me, but I don't believe it. Everybody has the same number of brain cells, but different people use them in different ways. Some people fill their minds with soap operas or sports statistics or their work or a hobby or just making money; I fill mine with the Bible and computer programming (and related subjects). It makes me look smart in those areas, and less so in other areas -- but I follow somebody's famous advice "Better to keep your mouth shut and have people think you are stupid, than to open it and remove all doubt."

[4] This is the classic difference between Judgers and Perceivers (see "God of Truth").

[5] As a Thinker-Perceiver, Truth is so important to me that I spend a lot of time pursuing all possible implications. That generally takes a lot longer than the slight pause after somebody says something before the next person (or the same guy) starts up on another topic, so I'm still sitting there thinking about the previous idea -- or the idea from five minutes ago -- while everybody else has moved on. It only looks like I'm "submissive" because I'm not functional in real time (unless I already did all that analysis).

[6] Actually, I don't care about winning. I care about the truth, and the guy was wrong. So I asked him a reasonable question for his job title: "Where is that in the Bible?" It isn't, and he knows it. He tried to bluff me, and I called his bluff. He has a serious anger management problem, but he's smart enough to get other people to do his dirty work, so it can't come back on him.

[7] He probably beat me six or seven times in the last six months, but I refuse to defend a lost cause. It's about truth, and if I find myself on the wrong side, I switch sides immediately, usually so fast the other guy doesn't know he won. Why should I brag about losing? So he's clueless.

[8] The Bible also says all liars go to Hell [Rev.21:8], so if anybody makes it into Heaven (besides Jesus and the Angels) they must stop lying. It can be done.

[9] See my blog post "Sum of All Fears" earlier this month, and "It Takes One to Know One" eleven years ago.

[10] See my blog posts "Winners and Losers" and "Cowardly Face-to-Face" earlier this year.

[11] OK with me, if by "win" he means that he gets to choose how the friendship ends.


There are other possible explanations for "Win"s hostile and discourteous behavior. It may be, for example, that he puts a very low value on information and truth, so that he is unwilling to invest more time and effort in its acquisition than can be expended on viewing a 3-minute video or dominating a 20-minute conversation over lunch. In this model, Tom is either a liar for claiming to need vastly more time to digest data and its implications, or else an idiot for believing it necessary. I spend a lot of time with the one person who knows Tom from living with him 24/7/365, so I personally know the accusation is false, even if Win wants to justify his own myopic foolishness no other way. The guy can believe any silly thing he wants, but he should at least have the courtesy to allow others to hold different opinions when they have better (more immediate) access to the facts than Win does (see my "Blind Spot" blog post three months ago).

Another possibility is that Win is caught in a moral dilemma, needing on the one hand to placate the evil demands of the leaders of his chosen church, and on the other hand to fulfill the social requirements everybody learns in kindergarten. Religion always wins, otherwise it's not religion. I personally have not previously experienced so much rage in one church member, but I also put the revealed commands of God (in the Bible, which I find to be consistent, moral, and perspicuous) above human ecclesiastic leaders, so I have difficulty empathizing with this dilemma.

Or else maybe he lost his mind, just completely switched it off, like somebody brainwashed him and now he's nothing more than a zombie incapable of any thought or action except to twitch under his master's control. There was that guy at his church who said that's what he was going to do to him (different words, of course, but same effect). You'd think a guy as serious about his Christian faith as "Win" made himself out to be would be able to make moral decisions about his relations with other people, but maybe that guy suckered him into trusting him, then (because Win is a Judger) he's unwilling to re-evaluate whether what he's being told to do is in fact Good and moral. That's so sad, like selling your soul to the Devil. Judas did that.

The really curious thing about all my stumbling around trying to figure out what really happened, is that the guy seems to be reading my blog, and he never challenged any of my interpretations except for the duration of his hostility (which I now have documented in my archives). That tells me he knows I'm right. That's worth something :-)

The truth is, it's over. I got tired of the false accusations and the lies -- as a moral Christian, I need to give due diligence to all credible accusations of fault, to determine if they are true and I therefore need to repent. That's very time-consuming, and when there is no truth in any of it, the time comes to call a halt to the abuse. I did that. Three times, over the years. Maybe he'll recover again, maybe not, but my losses are substantially greater this time than the previous two times. Somebody needs to cover those losses. Is he capable of that kind of repentance? I don't know, it's certainly not compatible with his personality type (see "Personality & Biblical Values"). -- Tom Pittman, 15 Dec 30