Paradoxical Commandments

Dear Friends,


After I used these in my sermon over the weekend, several people asked me for copies of them or if I could publish them somehow.  “The Paradoxical Commandments” were first created over 50 years ago by Kent Keith, who was then a sophomore at Harvard College.  They were part of a booklet for the high school leaders he’d been working with on how to make an impact and lead meaningful, lasting change.  The challenge, he felt, was to do what was right and good and true and keep doing it, no matter what.


As part of that booklet for high school students, he penned these commandments:


People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.  Love them anyway.


If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.  Do good anyway.


If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.  Succeed anyway.


The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.  Do good anyway.


Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.  Be honest and frank anyway.


The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.  Think big anyway.


People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.  Fight for a few underdogs anyway.


What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.  Build anyway.


People really need help but may attack you if you do help.  Help people anyway.


Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.  Give the world the best you have anyway.


These Paradoxical Commandments were found on the wall of the children’s home in Calcutta that was run by Mother Teresa, after her death.  No one knows exactly how she learned of these, where she got them, or to what effect or purpose she used them.  Kent Keith was absolutely stunned to hear of this, 30 years after he had written them, and thrilled to know someone he had long admired had been impacted in at least a small way by his own creative endeavor.


I have to say that in my experience it is the rare person who can live up to these commandments because it involves continuing to build and fight and pursue and give regardless of what you are getting back. Nevertheless, I believe Jesus is calling us, you and me, to be that rare person.


Grace and Hope to you,


Pastor Duane