IN PURSUIT OF TRUTH
Who is a complete failure? A man who in his quest to please everybody by doing anything and everything fails to do anything and everything right and at the same time, he fails at his original intent/goal of pleasing everybody because everybody cannot be pleased. It is simply impossible! I have reached a conclusion that one of the necessary requirements for victory and success at any task is to know one’s limit and limitations. Knowing what can’t be done would save you time and energy such that you rather focus that time and energy on tasks that can be achieved rather than one the ones that are completely outside your reach. In the field of project management, this is termed the scope of your work. Pleasing everyone is certainly one task better not pursued because it simply cannot be achieved.
Nevertheless, the bible does say that we should follow after peace with all men(Heb12:14)…..by implication, do what pleases all men because that’s how you get to be at peace with men. When a man does what pleases you, you don’t have qualms with him. When he does otherwise, you relationship together will most likely experience a strain. So by asking as to be at peace with all men, the bible was saying that we should do what we can to please those people we come in contact with. It is asking us to be pleasant and likeable people.
But notice the bible did say that as much as it depends on you……because really all doesn’t depend on you. You can only do a part. So the bible was saying here that do your part to please as many people as possible and be at peace with them. No matter how hard you try, you simply cant win some people over. But you can win others….. you can in fact win most others. And this is what that verse of the bible and this piece of writing is about.
One point I’m trying to establish in essence is this: quite alright, we cant win everybody over to ourselves…we can win some over. But what does the bible say we should do? It says its best to win everybody over. Even if we eventually don’t, we should have tried and done our best. Also you can’t please everyone, but you can and should try to. And therefore, despite it being an impossible task, it is yet a noble one.
What are the benefits of getting along with everybody (or more realistically, with most people)? First is that you’ll have fewer enemies and more acquaintances. That’s more peace and rest for yourself. Peace is one of man’s deepest need and its so scarce these days. The less enemies you have, the more peace you can get both without and more importantly within your heart. Also, one of our psychological needs as humans is acceptance. That need is hugely met when you please people. And thirdly and probably most importantly, we would be sowing profitable seeds and obeying the golden rule of doing unto others what we want to be done to us. In every conversation and contact with people that we meet, one thing we look out for is to leave better off….pleased……happy; not angered, frustrated, despised or any of those negative feelings. So also does everyone else. And so by giving this to everyone that meets you, you are sowing good seeds for yourself in this regards towards everyone you’ll meet.
Nonetheless, despite how noble this responsibility is, we need to recognize that a line needs to be drawn. Pleasing people might bring all those benefits at times but at a greater cost. i.e there times when such deal could be likened to you giving up your heart and collecting needed blood in the process. Blood without heart can’t be useful in your body and so such a deal shouldn’t be agreed to. Remember the condition the bible gave in Heb12. “As long as it depends on you.”
We draw the line where the norm contradicts the truth. The norm is what people want and accept. The truth is what ought to be; which in more religious term could be termed what God wants. These two we have been made to believe always contradict. In most cases, they do…..but not in all cases. For example, society today smiles at homosexuality and gives an approving nod to it. God doesn’t! so if being gay or approving it will please your neighbour and make you get along, should you do it? NO. Because it contradicts truth. But on the flip side, being rich is also generally acceptable and celebrated in the society and God has no ‘ish’ with it. In fact, he desires that we prosper. So should I pursue financial success? YES!
To know our limits when it comes to pleasing people and the society, we should line whatever they require with the standard of truth. If they flow together, then strive to get it done. If they don’t, you have no obligation to please them. Always do what is right over what is said to be right….because society’s norm is its truth and so it will tell you that it is right. However, society can sometimes be wrong.
In conclusion, how do I separate what is true from what isn’t. Society has its own rules and methods these day many of which are wrong and anti-truth. How do I distinguish a false norm from God’s truth. The first is through God’s word. Let it be your standard. Leverage your decisions on it and you won’t be wrong (see Gal5:23). Secondly, listen to the voice of your spirit which is your conscience. In every man’s conscience is a written set of truth codes. When we go or are about to go against those truth codes our conscience rings an alarm bell so that we can return to the path of truth. Learn to listen to that bell and follow its direction. Note that the more you ignore it, the less clearer and louder it gets.
So it is noble to get along with all people. It could be said to be quite impossible, but it is something we should do our best at. The rule of playing this game however is this: when truth contradicts norm….go for truth. Eventually, therein lays true success.
Soaga Afolabi Olusegun.
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