We are instructed in scripture to think soberly about ourselves. We are inclined to see things through our own lens and to excuse our wrongs and over value our assets. So it’s always wise to do a Reality Check on who we are and how we are tracking.
“By the grace given to me I say to each of you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned.” Romans 12:3
Thinking soberly about ourselves is a wise instruction, but the hitch is that we can often be deluded and fail to see our own reality.
I have helped various people suffering from bi-polar disorder, which was once called being Manic-Depressive. One chap, in his manic state, set off to start a business that was obviously doomed from the outset. He later told me that he was euphoric with excitement about how easy it was going to be for him to succeed.
That kind of delusional thinking frustrates our attempts to see clearly what is really going on in and around our lives.
Another chap I think of had extreme persecution notions, confident that everyone around him was determined to make life miserable for him. No amount of reasoning with him changed his mind. No wonder his marriage failed and he found himself friendless.
While most of us are not so extreme in our personal delusions the fact is we are highly likely to be misguided and blinded about things relating to us and our lives.
The instruction is to think soberly, clearly taking stock of ourselves for who we are. In particular we are to be clearly aware of what God has given us, the ‘measure of faith God has assigned’ us. That instruction is linked to not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. So pride and over-rating ourselves is a potential problem for us all.
I have heard of several reports indicating that people convicted of serious crimes rate themselves much more favourably than the normal community would. We often find in children an overconfidence about what they could do if given opportunity. We all like to be thought of more favourably than we deserve.
What does the evidence say about you? Who are you? What has God placed in you and what are you doing to make good use of it?
Some people carry vain dreams of achieving things, which will never come to pass. They would be much better off to face the truth about themselves. So what is the reality of your life and potential? Are you thinking soberly about the gifts and capacities God has given you?
One of the blessings I have discovered in working in team settings is to recognise there are people with real skills and natural abilities in areas that I struggle. I would love to have those abilities but I don’t. Yet people also tell me they are amazed at what I can do in areas that come naturally to me.
So I have had to give up some hopes and dreams, recognising God has not graced me with the right set of capacities. At the same time I have had to recognise where I am gifted and to employ the capacities God has given me.
Many years ago I was able to make some connections with people wanting to bring foreign students to Australia. I thought of that as an opportunity God was giving to me. I had no idea how to capitalise on the contacts so I went and spoke with an older Christian businessman, hoping he might work with me to get a business up and running.
Instead, the man shut down my hopes. He pointed out to me that I knew nothing about the travel and accommodation industry, or about the risks, insurances, challenges, etc. He pointed out that there are many companies already specialising in those areas who not only knew how to compete with me, but also how to exploit my vulnerabilities if they felt I was a threat to them, or they just wanted to take over my business.
He also pointed out to me that I had a number of natural talents and years of experience in media, communication and ministry. He strongly urged me to drop the idea of building a brand new business and to concentrate on the natural skills and areas of expertise that were already mine.
I didn’t like the conversation, but it pointed out one of my weaknesses. I love ideas and new things, and am not so strong on follow through of previous ideas. I would have rushed at the new business but not have had the stamina to press through the learning curve that was needed.
It was one of the Reality Check moments for me along the way.
So, while there’s many other aspects of this which I could bring up, let me leave it here and simply prompt you with the question, How’s Your Reality Check?