Talks and Reflections by Brian Boobbyer

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'All Have Glaring Faults'

Brian in South India, 1953
(photo: David Channer)

Bramwell Booth, who succeeded his father as leader of the Salvation Army, wrote: 'Love, trust, value men. All have glaring faults. But it is the good in men you have to work with and conquer with. Some recent letters have distressed me intensely in their slowness to express any satisfaction in your officers.'

I pick out the phrase 'glaring faults', vainly preferring to call mine 'minor blemishes'. Some years ago a close friend asked me how I got on with an older colleague. I said I did not get along with him at all and did not agree with his approach to life, that he was too moderate compared with passionate me. Moreover he seemed to pour cold water on most of my bright suggestions. So I said I was summoning up the courage to tell him exactly what I thought of him. This friend replied: 'You feel things about him, which are true. He feels things about you which are also true. So what? Why not forget about it and make 500 new friends?'

This was a turning point for me. My feelings about him had become an obsession. In fact, my enthusiasm and his common sense began to blend rather well. I began to learn much from him. Later, his wife said to me, 'Do make allowances for us, we are getting old,' echoing the words of St Paul, 'Make allowances for one another because you love one another.'

This does not mean being sentimental about people, but it does mean that the salt which Christ urged us to have - 'Be salted with the fire of the discipline' - needs to be rooted in affection.

Julius Caesar is the story of a struggle for power. William Shakespeare puts these famous lines in the mouth of Caesar:

Let me have men about me that are fat.

Cassius has a lean and hungry look.

He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

He reads much, loves no plays, hears no music.

Seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort

As if he mocked himself, and scorned his spirit

That could be moved to smile at anything.

Such men as he never be at heart's ease

Whiles they behold a greater than themselves,

And therefore are they very dangerous.

Beware of those who want to pull down high-flying eagles, because they resent strong leadership.

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