The Road to Character
You’ll never be faulted for doing your best.
Regardless of the outcome, always fall back on doing something for the common good.
I’m currently reading The Road to Character, a book by columnist and political pundit, David Brooks. I recently watched an interview of his with Oprah Winfrey and was so impressed with the subject matter, I purchased the book he was promoting.
Mr. Brooks talks and writes about the difference between Adam I and Adam II, the latter being the person who has lived a eulogy life, not the resume life of Adam I. You’ll need to read the book to understand the full contextual meaning, but what follows is just one of many elements that resounded with me. I provide this excerpt verbatim:
The poor will often be ungrateful, and you will lose heart if you rely on immediate emotional rewards for your work. But if you do it for God, you will never grow discouraged.
A person with a deep vocation is not dependent on constant positive reinforcement. The job doesn’t have to pay off every month, or every year.
The person thus called is performing a task because it is intrinsically good, not for what it produces.
You see, we’re not responsible for the outcome. Most of the time, we’ll never witness how our good deeds helped another person. If our motivation was only to observe first-hand the benefits such deeds might produce, we’d stop doing good in short order. We must exercise faith and hope that our actions are not wasted.
Your ability to discern your vocation depends on the condition of your eyes and ears, whether they are sensitive enough to understand the assignment your context is giving you. As the Jewish Mishnah puts it, “It’s not your obligation to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from beginning it.”
All that we do with a clear conscience is good. We must not refrain from standing up and stepping forward. The good we do may be the beginning of a widespread process of well-being for others, or it may be the finishing touches on that which was started some time before you came into the picture.
It’s never too late to do good. Why resolutionize your intentions until next year? Start now.