Monday, November 21, 2011

Two Great Tasks of Life

There’s no shortage of self-improvement courses in this life. Everywhere we look we can expect to find myriads of marketing gimmicks selling us ‘the’ product toward a better self.

Taking the task of self-development down to the basics, there are two goals; two great tasks:

1. To get things done; and,

2. To get along with people.

If we can do these two things, the more skilfully the better, we will succeed in life. That will be real success, and there’s neither mention of money, nor fame, nor material gain—but prosperity, of a broad sense, is assured.

Getting Things Done

It sounds simple. Many people, however, struggle for motivation or the wherewithal to get things done. Some are ‘cursed’ with procrastination due to inordinate fear or a lack of faith or vision, or belief in themselves, to put rubber on the road.

Yet, what sounds simple invariably is. It may be no more complicated than putting one in foot in front of another; to act in the theory of ‘what’s next’ without giving up.

We can glamorise it by saying there’s got to be drive aplenty and passion aflame. Often there is. But it doesn’t always have to be this way; most of the best action is taken in humility.

Getting things done is, therefore, the capacity of the humble and, of course, the diligent. Diligence is what I call one half of the mystery toward self-mastery. (The other half is prudence.)

Getting Along with People

All of life ends belly up if we don’t get along with people.

But like getting things done, getting along with people is not all it’s cracked up to be. No matter how skilled we are at relationships, developing and maintaining rapport, we will be confounded in conflict sooner or later. We’ll need to learn the skills of forgiveness, of grace permitting passage past pride. We’ll need to learn how to eat humble pie. Indeed, we’ll need to learn to forgive ourselves.

Additionally, we can more easily get along with people when we don’t adhere to the truth. But the truth is critically important in relationships, for flattery is merely a veiled form of insult. Therein lays the real skill in getting on with people: when we respect the truth and find ways to love people anyway.


When we’re tenacious enough to get things done as well as able to lovingly get along with people—achieving both consistently—we have mastered life: the simple life. Besides faith in Jesus, that’s all God wants us to do.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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