Yesterday I had the opportunity to watch my son Brady judge his first sheep show. I'm sure that didn't help his nerves any. I stayed out of sight for the first few classes and then moved into the bleachers to watch the show. After all these years of sheep shows, I'm still learning. I try to see what the pros see in a sheep. They just look like sheep to me. To the real judges the sheep are skeletons covered with muscle and mass. Like me, some of them carry a little too much fat. Others have basic skeletal problems (also like me) and a few are built perfectly but have 'freshness' issues, especially at this stage of the growing process.
Brady did a fine job of sorting through the sheep and also judging the youth for their showmanship abilities. Each judge is a little different in what he or she is looking for. Each one has different expectations and preferences so obviously the results may vary. We have run into several judges in the past who were looking for something that our lambs just didn't have. Sometimes we get lucky and a judge really likes our lambs. Those are great days.
I could never be a good judge; I'm too indecisive. And I certainly respect those who have to make judgements, even if I don't agree with their decisions. However, I don't respect those judges who allow money or power to influence their results. Brady makes a good judge because he knows so much about the physiology of a sheep and has years of experience feeding show sheep. He also is an individual who cares about other people, in particular the youth who were showing the sheep yesterday. He knows how hard the families work to get their sheep ready for a show, and he knows that young people need encouragement to keep working and getting better at a task.
I'm thankful we have a loving God who judges us with love and compassion and with grace and mercy.
"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love" (Psalm 103:8 NIV).