Why Not Desire to Do What Must Be Done?
THERE are ever so many things in life that we must do. Whether we are old or young, man or woman, professional person or laborer, housewife or schoolteacher, by our very presence in this world there are certain obligations that fall upon us. It begins early in life and continues as long as we live.
These things may be getting up in the morning with the alarm clock, making “honest provision” in the sight of all men, paying taxes, obeying traffic regulations, doing as we should at home, in school or at our place of employment. Regardless of who we are and regardless of our environment we simply cannot escape certain obligations, whether we want to discharge them or not.—2 Cor. 8:21.
Because there are so many things that we must do, our imperfect human natures may rebel, no doubt due to the spirit of independence or rebellion we inherited from our first parents and which we see manifested all about us, today more than ever before. It often seems easier to do things we do not have to do than to do those things we should or must.
Yet, since life is so much a matter of doing things we must do, what can we do about it? We can make it a great deal easier for ourselves if we cultivate a desire to do that which we must. We can tell ourselves all the reasons why we should do a certain thing, such as paying taxes or obeying traffic regulations, and that, under the circumstances, it is both the wise and the right thing to do. Yes, when performing an obligation consider the benefits as well as the duty. This in itself will help you to do what you should.
On the other hand, is it not true that if we desire to do a thing we are likely to do it much better and are likely to get it done with less effort, with more enjoyment out of doing it? Wisely the ancient Israelites were commanded to “rejoice before Jehovah your God in every undertaking of yours.” Nothing was to be done in a spirit of complaining or with reluctance. Rejoicing in it implied desiring to do it.—Deut. 12:18.
Today many housewives complain of boredom always doing the same thing, making beds, cleaning house, washing clothes, preparing meals, and so forth. But as one housewife author recently observed: ‘Boredom is what you make of it, and at least the housewife can tell herself she’s working for people she loves, which is more than many a man can say about his job. Advertising gives a romantic glamor to marriage, but the whole system actually is based on the idea that Father goes out and earns the bread, and Mother spreads the peanut butter on it.’a So the wise housewife enjoys doing things for her family, takes pride in doing them well, and glows with satisfaction when she succeeds in keeping her family healthy and happy.
Thus also the wise father is one who desires to do justice to his family obligations, who wants to make his wife happy and to rear his children to be God-fearing and law-abiding. Such a father is more likely to succeed and enjoy being a father than is the one who begrudges the time his family takes and the burden of obligation wife and children represent. Such begrudging fathers must share the responsibility with negligent mothers for what much of present-day youth is like.—Deut. 6:6, 7; Eph. 6:4.
The same is true of the schoolteacher. She who puts her heart into her work, who truly desires to teach the young, knows that this contributes much both to her happiness and to her success. Likewise with her students: Learning is a must for them, but how much they learn and retain will depend in no small measure on their attitude toward learning. Taking in knowledge can be delightful, yes, exciting, and can fill them with hope as to the future. A wise teacher will therefore seek to stimulate in her pupils the desire to learn, to take in knowledge.
And when it comes to the more intimate relationships of life, we simply cannot do them justice without wanting to do what we should do. Generally marriage mates start out wanting or desiring to do things for each other, to make each other happy. But unless they are careful to keep feeding this desire, their relationship may become routine and mechanical; and they will find themselves slighting each other and proving unfaithful in little things, if not also in big ones. They must work at wanting or desiring to do right by each other and to make each other happy even though it is at the same time a duty.—Eph. 5:22-33; Titus 2:4.
Yes, you can train yourself to desire or want to do what you must do, even as you can train yourself along other lines. Our inclinations, our emotions, are susceptible to discipline, even as our minds and bodies are. You can dwell on the positive side of things and so counteract any tendency toward complaining, frustration and boredom.
Especially when it comes to our relationship with God, desiring or wanting to do his will is important. Some may try to shove aside all feeling of responsibility toward God, saying that they are not religious; but that does not relieve them of the obligation that falls upon them as creatures who enjoy life and who daily avail themselves of the provisions that the Creator has made to sustain life. Others perform their service to God, making known his name and purposes to their fellowmen, because they feel the responsibility that rests upon them as Christians; and it is true that they do have an obligation in this regard. (1 Cor. 9:16, 17) But how much happier is the one who earnestly desires to do God’s will, seeing it as the grand privilege that it is to serve the Creator and to aid others to gain the prize of everlasting life!
We cannot escape it. Life is largely a matter of discharging our obligations, and it may involve much repetition and hard work. Since this is so, let us cultivate the desire to do what must be done, keeping in focus the benefits that come from doing it, for only then can we do it well and with enjoyment.
a This Half of the Apple is Mine by Joyce Lubold.