With the vicar unexpectedly away these past few weeks, I've discovered what one of my big weaknesses is - I'm a wimp. I want everyone to love and esteem me and so I avoid taking the hard road when it comes to the tricky decisions especially when dealing with people face to face. E.g. one of our church deacons resorts to foul language when frustrated and all I can think of is when will the vicar be back so that he can rebuke them! A parishioner living in sin turns up seeking baptism for their child, and my confident chatter a moment before becomes stuttering babble. As I prepare sermons for the Lord's Day I opt to go for short (and hopefully funny) homilies so that the punters will be pleased and not moan. What has become of me? As I've been reflecting on my cowardice these past few weeks I see that C S Lewis was right:
'[Courage] is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point... A chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky.'
He's right. Very often, our decisions come down to choosing between courage and cowardice and most times I've been quick to take Pilate's path. I really really would like to grow some gracious backbone, so that I'm gentle yet firm, reproving yet abounding in love, full of grace and truth - anyone have ideas how one does this?