What Do You Want From Me?

One of the downsides of gifts is the way that it shifts the expectations that others have of you. Without ever having been a particularly handsome person, I can nevertheless understand something of the burden of beauty by the way that it shifts the desires of people to possess or otherwise use that beauty for their own glory. I know that not directly, but indirectly from the way that people react to my often conspicuous intelligence. The same is true of the gifts of others. If we are not seeking to use such gifts to gain an advantage in life, then other people are seeking to gain an advantage through the gifts that we possess. And it is more than that. If we become suspicious and lacking in trust of the motivations of those around us, we can think that other people are trying to use us for our gifts even if they are not, which can make our gifts a barrier to the genuine intimacy we would wish with others.

It must be admitted that it is not inherently a bad thing for people to want something of you. If you work, for example, you may expect that at least sometimes (however unwelcome it is), one’s boss or supervisor is going to get in touch with you in order to ask you to do something. My own general goal is to organize my time and work in such a fashion as to minimize the amount of intrusions of this nature by keeping up on a regular pattern of work and only having to entertain such discussions when it comes to doing special projects or less frequent sort of work, but sometimes it is unavoidable, especially when those bosses and supervisors need to answer for something themselves that falls under one’s own areas of expertise and responsibility. Still, the wises person seeks to minimize these intrusions through diligent work.

Even beyond this, it is not necessarily a bad thing for gifts to be wanted in serious times. It was not without reason that US President John F. Kennedy, in his justly famous inaugural address, called upon the Americans not to ask what their country could do for them but to ask what they could do for their country. When one knows one has abilities that can serve others, it is good for us to ask how we can put our talents to good use. To the extent that we ask ourselves how we may be of service to others, and find good answers for that question, we can at least put ourselves in the right mindset so as to be gracious when we are dealing with the same sort of question from others. The person who has never asked oneself how one can help others will be far less likely to graciously consider, much less accept, such a request from others, than one who has developed the habit of reflecting on and thinking about questions of duty and service. And learning how to be gracious is one of the most vital skills one can learn in life, a skill all the more important because it is exceedingly always likely to remain important for all time, there being no sort of technological improvement that can make it obsolete.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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