You might think it odd to hear a minister speak about astrological signs. I would respond in two ways; I put no faith in such things but I would point out that Magi figure prominently in the birth narrative of Jesus (Matthew 2). I have never read the newspaper’s astrological predictors, I have never taken any interest in astrology and I know next to nothing about astrology. But here is what I do know; I was born in early October and according the astrological calendar I am a Libra. The symbol for Libras is scales and one of the most commonly referenced descriptions for Libras is balance, that Libras like to weigh matters, seek a balanced point-of-view and seek to hear both, all, sides of a matter before reaching a conclusion.

Here is some of what I have learned about Libras:

Libra is the sign that everyone is friends with. They can charm anyone and often have a large social circle and many trusted friends. It can be hard for them to make each person in their life feel special (because they have so many) and this is the internal

Libras learn in social situations, and independent situations. They need the balance, and would excel in a classroom that was harmonized between online work and hands on work. Libras tend to be extremely sarcastic, and they love to tell stories that end in howling laughter. Libras are entertainers who will always go on a tangent and tell a long winded memory for a laugh. There’s no stopping them when they get started.

This is certainly true for me. Not all of the descriptions of Libra accurately assess my personality, strengths and weaknesses, but the central point, the need for balance, is crucial. One of the most important things I have learned in life is the necessity for self-awareness and the need for critical and accurate and balanced feedback. Time and time again people have told me things about myself; that I am great or terrible or a life-friend or an enemy, only to have that assessment change in a week or less. In time it becomes apparent the assessment had less to do with me and more to do with the other’s particular emotional state of the time.

I am very, very careful to calibrate my assessments based on considerable experience, listening to a wide range of opinion, and thinking as clearly as possible how others would think through this situation. I try to put myself in the other’s shoes and to avoid at all cost the “common sense” consensus that is 99% of the time code for “what everybody thinks”. “Groupthink” is not only the sign of a dull and lazy mind it can be dangerous, lead to decisions that are less about wisdom and compassion and truth and more about the common thinking of the time.

So I do listen to critical feedback and know I am often wrong. I never trust praise or attacks on their face, I dig deeper and seek out other opinions. When people sound certain, like they “know” that makes me immediately suspicious of groupthink. Most of our opinions are just guesses and our assessments are just guesses. The more certain you are the less certain I am that you are correct.

When it comes to criticism I invite it, am not defensive about it and try to incorporate it, when it is not based on self-interest or lazy thought, into my life. However, what I don’t like is being criticized for something I do wrong when there is no acknowledgement of what I am doing right in that same situation. I have had parts in amateur plays where I sometime flubbed a line or two. But at the same time my performance was considerably livelier than many in the cast and brought many extra audience members to the performance. If I promote events and leave out or misspeak certain details but at the same time I get people signing up for events like they have never done before I think naming both of these outcomes is important. To focus only on the negative and leave out the positive seems unfair. I like balance. The same is true for compliments. When people tell me about how much they like my sermons I remind them I preach too long. I feel the need to add to every compliment a self-critique. Balance.

If you want my attention offering a balanced and calm assessment is always the best way to be heard.

I am not a follower of astrology, I am a follower of Jesus. But in following Jesus I need to be self-aware and balance is the key to my discernment. If this balance comes as a result of being a Libra I am grateful. Wherever this gift came from it has been a life-changer.