Recently, I came across a social media post made by an author. He posted a message he got from one of his readers:
“Hello I am waiting on a response from you”
Given that he has quite a number of followers, and as he is also kind of a life coach, I would think that he receives a whole lot of feedback. Messages that people send him, with misplaced expectations of when he should reply. And it seems that a lot of people are expecting him to get back to them, pronto.
Give me an answer, I want it now.
The author politely pointed out that while he gets a lot of these—follow-ups and demands and complaints that he isn’t responding—he is unable to reply to everyone immediately because of the sheer volume of it all.
And I thought, “Well, of course!” I don’t even expect my own mother to respond to me at the drop of a hat. This was common sense. But how strange that so many others didn’t understand that in the first place.
What I Learned from Copernicus
It always amazes me to see people approach life this way. And occasionally, I discover that I do life this way, too. We, as a species, tend to approach life this way:
Give me an answer. I want it now. Give me what I need. Do as I say. Do as you’re supposed to. Don’t inconvenience me. Do it my way. Do it now.
We treat others with a certain forgetfulness of their own unique, individual lives, their needs and their priorities, their own responsibilities. Our default is on “What can you give me?” and “Why aren’t you doing what I want you to do?”
Why is life not happening the way I want it to happen?
The first thing I usually notice about people is this: whether they are a Copernicus or not. See, we are our own worlds, and we expect the galaxy and everything else around us to revolve around our way of doing things, around our needs and expectations. It takes a certain maturity to grow out of this entitlement-mentality, and to be service-oriented and sensitive to the worlds of the people around us. Copernicus, as you know, was the scientist who discovered that no, we are not actually the center of the universe.
But the question is: have we come to the same, simple conclusion?
What I Learned from My Dad
I still remember this like it’s yesterday:
Rain or shine, my dad always dropped me off at a busy intersection where I start my commute to school. I’d prepare for school, get on the back of our blue Honda motorcycle, and get ready for a brief but fun drive to that busy intersection.
Now, my dad was not a driver, not by a long shot. (Though he’d probably joke otherwise.) He was a businessman back then. Really busy, as all entrepreneurs are. Sleep was precious for him. So was time. But he never seemed to mind the task of waking up early to bring my siblings and me to our respective drop-offs.
He didn’t have to. We could all commute, or walk. He didn’t have to inconvenience himself for the sake of our own convenience. We are not entitled to his service. But I never heard any complaints from my dad.
And I would always remember that.
To this day, it’s through that lens of unconditional kindness that I see and understand a person’s character.
The Giving-Getting Paradox
My dad gets it. My mom, too. They did a lot of stuff for us. Sacrificed so much for their family, and were even there for relatives and friends. They were caring for others. The way they approached life was through service; through the heartfelt sacrificing of their own wants, for the needs of others. Which taught me a most valuable lesson:
The more you give, the more you get.
Not in money, or fame, or power. Not in time or energy. But in character. It’s a paradox, and definitely worked like magic; the more you learned to serve others and set aside your own agenda, the more you became caring and service-oriented, and not selfish and compensation-hungry… it was like stabbing the naturally awful parts of yourself. Giving your better self more power to follow in God’s footsteps. To be the kind of person that His grace allows you to be.
And character of that caliber? It speaks for itself. It shows. Through the excellence of the way someone does life, character shows. And eventually, it always, always yields returns beyond imagination. Your character will get you farther in life than any time, energy, or money you manage to save.
Now, the majority of the world operates on self-centeredness. But few have the character to truly care about others, and give of themselves without asking for anything in return. Which kind of person will you be?
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” — Luke 6:38