Is That a Donkey on Your Back?

by Andy Wood on July 9, 2010

in Life Currency, LV Alter-egos, Pleasers, Words

An old fable passed down for generations (and doctored a little bit)…

An elderly man was traveling with a boy and a donkey.  As they walked through a village, the man was leading the donkey and the boy was walking behind.  The young people there said the old man was a fool for not riding, so to please them he climbed on the animal’s back.

When they came to the next village, the moms in the crowd said the old man was cruel to let the child walk while he enjoyed the ride.  To please them, he got off and set the boy on the donkey’s back and continued on his way.

In the third village, senior adults accused the child of being lazy for making the old man walk.  The suggestion was made that they both ride.  So the man climbed on and they set off again.

In the fourth village, the animal rights activists were indignant at the cruelty to the donkey because he was made to carry two people.

The frustrated man was last seen carrying the donkey down the road.

How Far Will You Go to Please?

Have you felt as if you’re carrying donkeys lately?  Let’s face it – we can say all day that “sticks and stones can break our bones, but words will never hurt us.” But the truth is, much of our lives is shaped by what others say to us or about us, either good or bad.

That should cause us to take a careful look at our motives.  Are you doing what you do purely for the sake of pleasing people or avoiding criticism?  Have you allowed someone else’s words to paralyze or discourage you?  Have you given up on your dreams, accepted failure as final, or rejected yourself because of a few discouraging words?

Critics, Gossips, and Judges

We should also be extremely careful about what we ourselves say.  In one of the most interesting verses in the book of Malachi, the prophet says, “You have wearied the Lord with your words” (Malachi 2:17).  The people were taxing God’s patience by the things they were saying!

Think about it.  You have the capacity to motivate, to encourage, to inform, and to inspire – all with this gift of speech. Unfortunately, your words also have the power to break down, to wound, and to leave permanent scars on the lives of people.

Sometimes our criticism can reveal our ignorance.  Two taxidermists stopped in front of a window where an owl was on display.  They immediately began to criticize the way it was mounted.  Its eyes weren’t natural; its wings were not in proportion with its head; its feathers were not neatly arranged; and its feet could be improved.  When they finished with their criticism, the old owl turned his head… and winked at them!

What was Jesus talking about when He said in Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, lest you be judged?”  Certainly one of the things that means is to be very careful about making snap judgments based on faulty information.

All of us have been guilty on occasion of misjudging someone.  That’s a problem in and of itself.

But the greatest danger comes when we pass on our misjudgments to others.

Lawyers refer to that as slander.

Jesus refers to that as sin.

Perhaps there is still some truth in your mama’s old saying, “If you can’t say something good about someone…”

Or maybe your black-sheep uncle was cruder about it, but theologically he was dead-on:  “Shut the hell up!”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ron July 9, 2010 at 11:47 am

Great article Andy. I’m reminded of something Norm Wakefield from Elijah Ministries once said, “Look at your dad as a son, not as someone who is supposed to know everything to do in every situation. Forgive him for not knowing.”

We tend to judge everyone we come into contact with, from parents, teachers, and pastors to friends, co-workers, and acquaintances. We need to understand that most people do what they can with what they have and know at the moment. In business, I tell people that it’s easy to judge someone when you’re sitting behind a keyboard in air-conditioned comfort but try getting out into the field and dealing with people from the employee’s standpoint. Your perspective changes — and that’s a good thing!
Ron´s last blog post ..Under-Confidence Is A Virtue In Budgeting

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