Pastor's pen for 13th Sept - with sober judgement

'For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.' Apostle Paul (Romans 12:3 NRSV)

In these woke times one hesitates to highlight gender differences but here goes; it seems to me the male of the species is more likely to 'bite off more than he can chew'. This is of course an idiomatic use of language indicating that a person is ready to take on more than he is capable of doing or seeing through.

To a degree, I feel this about both of the senior citizens vying for the presidency of the United States (average age 75.5). Trump does not lack energy, but seems singularly unable or unwilling to utter words of wisdom or conciliation on any given topic or in any crisis, of which there are currently several. His grasp of facts, science and truth appear to be very loose. His rival Joe Biden (unkindly christened 'sleepy Joe' by Trump) does indeed seem to lack an energetic charisma and 'cut-through'. However, as a career politician, he does utter more measured, intelligent, conciliatory statements and has chosen his VP candidate strategically. The shrill partisan Republican cry that he will lead America into some marxist left-wing hell seems somewhat overblown.

I find it difficult to view the US presidency in democratic terms, when access to vast financial resources and connections seem to be the main criteria needed in running for office. Surely there are highly qualified people who never get a look in? It seems more like an empire lurching to an end point. This is concerning when the other looming empires among the nations make no pretense of being democracies, preferring propaganda to truth, and shoring up the iron grip of presidential power 'for life'. We need something to balance that out in the world.

These men who rule the powerful nations seem to be on one long mid-life-crisis power trip. I haven't included Boris Johnson of the UK in my thinking, at least not until he manages to find himself a proper hairdresser. Don't even get me started on the Brexit debacle. In the place of my birth, folk tend to just sigh and put the kettle on to make a nice cup of hot tea.

It's alright to realize you have bitten off more than you can chew from time to time. On a couple of occasions in my meandering career I have done just that, but taken action to correct it by moving to a more suitable role or in a new direction.

One thing I appreciate about the passing decades as a Christian, is an increased ability to exercise what Apostle Paul calls 'sober judgement'. The sobriety of reflection based of knowledge of God and self-understanding is a welcome blessing. I'm not referring to some overblown sense of humility and neurotic unworthiness that is always counterproductive. But to know oneself and have a clear sense of life-calling and Spirit-leading brings a profound sense of peace and direction. From time to time I experience this, which makes me glad.

Let me encourage you to not be afraid to name what you are good at, what you are called to do in the Spirit. It is not always obvious, and we have times of doubt and uncertainty. Maturity also teaches us what our areas of giftedness are not. However, there is an invitation that transcends human power games, an assurance that we find in our relationship with God. While we might regard ourselves with 'sober judgement' we also pay heed to the 'measure of faith' that God has given, which leads us on in hope.

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