Judging ourselves truly

by Andrew Lansdown

Although my family’s interest in Australian Idol has increased over recent months, my own interest has lessened a little. For the truth is that my favourite part of the whole affair was the audition process.

I only caught two of the audition programs on television, but I very much enjoyed them. I liked watching how the judges dealt with the vastly different contestants who came before them. I soon realised that Mark Holden was sometimes sarcastic in his judgments, while Kyle Sandilands was often brutal and Marcia Hines was always kind.

Yet all three endeavoured to be honest and they mostly agreed with one another.

Another thing I liked about the tryouts was the anticipation before each contestant began to sing: would he or she be wonderful or mediocre or woeful? And to tell the truth, I especially liked the woeful ones. Indeed, I found myself simultaneously enthralled and appalled by the sheer brass and badness of the worst contestants.

Although I missed most of the auditions on television, I found video clips of the performances posted on the official Australian Idol website. And I played and replayed some of them as research for this article. Let me mention three of the worst.

(As it is not my intention to single out these contestants personally for ridicule, I have changed their names. However, the other details are factual.)

The first of the worst was Bob. Wearing shorts instead of jeans or trousers, Bob looked as dorky as a duck. And he had the moves of a duck as he flapped his arms and wobbled his bottom in time with his inane song (which was, I think, his own composition). With a nondescript voice, he sang: “I can’t stand this life-support, there’s a shortage in the switch. Can’t stand this morphine ’cause it’s making me itch.”

As Bob finished, Mark leaned back in his chair, raised his hand in a victory sign and cried, “Woo hoo! Fantastic! Absolutely brilliant!”

Missing the sarcasm, Bob smiled and said, “Thank you.”

Kyle looked at him seriously and said, “Mate, I reckon you’re a clown and that’s the only option you’ve got.”

Taken aback, Bob asked, “What’d you mean I’m a clown?”

Kyle replied, “There’s no entertainment there unless you’re a clown.”

Kyle was brutal, but he was also right. Bob’s performance was embarrassingly bad.

The Australian Idol website’s introduction to Bob’s video clip states: “You don’t have to be a spectacular performer or technically brilliant vocalist to become an Idol legend. [Bob] found a unique way to enter the history books.” Yes, Bob has become an Idol legend, but hardly in the way he had imagined or wanted.

Consider another contestant (whom I will call Helen) who has now entered the Idol Hall of Fame for all the wrong reasons. Helen chose to sing “You Raised Me Up”. Alas, she screeched her way through the song, missing every note as she went. Her performance was little short of hideous.

When she had finished, Mark asked her, “How do you think you went?”

Her voice strained with emotion and defiance, she replied, “I think I gave it my best and that’s all that matters. And if that’s not good enough then fair enough.”

To which Kyle replied, “Only people that aren’t any good use that as an excuse.”

Foremost in the running for the Idol Embarrassment Award was a nice looking and seemingly nice natured young woman whom I have called Jane. In response to their queries, Jane told the judges that she had already auditioned (in other cities) twice this year and five times last year. She was making her eighth attempt in two years to become a finalist in Australian Idol.

Jane chose to sing “Misty Blue”. She did not screech like Helen, but she did sing off-key. Her voice lacked any remarkable quality and her earnestness was off-putting. She sometimes clenched her teeth and somehow forced the notes to resound harshly in and from the back of her throat. And to top it off, when she held a note, she would hit it with an exaggerated vibrato—a tremolo—that was most irritating. It made your eyes misty and your mood blue just thinking of how bad she was.

“Just the thought of you turns my whole world misty bluuuuue,” she finished, holding on to the last note and trying to go deeper than her voice could go. Then she fell silent and smiled hopefully at the judges.

Kyle greeted her performance with a raspberry, a long one. “Have you taped yourself and listened back to it?” he asked.

Jane replied defiantly, “No I haven’t. I don’t think I really need to, to tell you the truth.”

“Well you do,” Kyle said.

“I believed in myself,” she said. “That’s the main thing.”

“Well too bad,” Kyle said. “You’re kidding yourself. You’re fooling yourself.”

And every viewer in the nation nodded agreement with Kyle, even those who felt he had been a bit cruel in the way he had spoken to Jane. Truly, this young woman was kidding herself.

How did this appalling situation come about? How could seemingly sensible people front up to audition for something for which they had absolutely no talent? How could they so easily and earnestly make utter fools of themselves before the whole nation? The answer is, surely, that they deceived themselves. They viewed themselves and their talents differently from what they really were. In short, they did not judge themselves truly.

The self-deception and consequent humiliation of those woeful wannabe idols vividly portrays a universal spiritual principle. The Bible warns us to examine ourselves so that we can arrive at an accurate assessment of ourselves so that we can avoid doing wrong and reaping harm.

“Let a person examine himself,” the apostle Paul states. Then he adds, “if we judge ourselves truly, we would not be judged” (1 Corinthians 11:28-31). In context, Paul is addressing Christian people with these remarks and he is speaking about a particular aspect of Christian worship. But his comments make a maxim that applies far beyond this context.

The most serious matter in which we are most likely to deceive ourselves is the matter of our own moral nature. We generally want to think of ourselves as good. On the rare occasions that we concede that we have done or said something wrong, we quickly exonerate our selves with all sorts of excuses.

However, God says in his word that we all have sinned and have fallen short of his glory: there is no one who is righteous and without sin. We are not only sinners by word, thought and act: we are also sinners by nature and inclination. Consequently, our sinfulness and our sins have separated us from God and have opened us to his judgment.

However, if we judge ourselves truly in this matter – if judge ourselves to be sinners in need of forgiveness from God, and on the basis of that sober judgment turn in repentance and faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, whom God sent to make amends for our sins by his death in our place on the cross – if we do that, then we will not be judged and condemned as sinners on the Judgment Day.

For want of judging themselves truly in the matter of their talents, many people who auditioned for Australian Idol opened themselves the mockery of their fellow Australians. This is a small matter compared with the matter of the eternal welfare of our souls. It is dreadful to think that for want of judging themselves truly now in the matter of their sins, many people who hope for heaven will instead experience the condemnation of their Creator on the Last Day.

It will hold no weight with Almighty God to say on the Day of Judgment, “I believed in myself and that’s the main thing.” It will hold no weight to say, “I gave it my best and that’s all that matters.”

Let us judge ourselves truly in this life so that we will not be judged badly in the next.

Filed under: Andrew Lansdown