A prayer for ‘Big Sam’ Allardyce

Rev David Clarke.
Rev David Clarke.

‘Big Sam’, the latest Messiah of English football, left the stage rather ignominiously last week.

Although holding what he regarded as the ‘dream job’, and rewarded with an annual salary of £3 million, Sam Allardyce was lured into indiscretion through the offer of £400,000 for sharing his pearls of wisdom in speaking engagements.

The undercover investigation into corruption in football by ‘Daily Telegraph’ reporters has also implicated a number of lesser figures associated with the beautiful game.

Those of us never exposed to such temptations ask ourselves, ‘Why is it that some people never seem to have enough?’

The novel, ‘The Winter of our Discontent’, which won John Steinbeck the Nobel Prize for Literature, illustrates the corrupting power of greed.

The story culminates when a teenage boy cheats to win a lucrative school essay prize.

When his cheating came to light, he defended himself to his father by saying, ‘It’s all dough, no matter how you get it.’

His father replied, ‘I don’t believe that. It doesn’t hurt the money to get it that way, but it hurts the one who gets it.’

Steinbeck’s novel illustrates the truth the apostle Paul stated two millennia ago, ‘The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.’(1 Timothy 6;10).

Towards the end of the Book of Proverbs we find a chapter entitled ‘The sayings of Agur’.

We know only his name, but his sayings indicate that he knew a lot about life.

In a perceptive and heart-felt prayer he says,’ Two things I ask of you, O Lord... Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.’( Chapter 30; vs 7-9).

Agur was alert to the dangers of wealth, for in prosperity he might be tempted to feel self-sufficient and say ‘Who is the Lord?’

Yet Agur saw nothing attractive in poverty.

‘Sheer penury drove me to scribbling verse’, conceded the Roman poet Horace, yet Agur realised that poverty, could force him to theft, and so dishonour the name of his God.

There’s a prayer all of us, and not just ‘Big Sam’, could benefit from.

* Rev David Clarke was a former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland from 2006-2007. He was also minister of Terrace Row Church in Coleraine.