As I grew up, I knew without a doubt which side would win the battle between sympathy versus discipline and sympathy versus getting the job done. I cannot remember a single world on the subject, or a time of instruction; however, the model was crisp black and white. I wonder what Dad would have said then if I quizzed him about the subject. Whatever I might guess, I know it is not fair to speculate.
Our commitment to honoring our word, getting the job accomplish on time and under budget, was an integral part of what it meant to be a member of the family. Every once in a while my mother would unsuccessfully rally for the cause of relaxing and enjoying life. We knew what we had to do.
The one stark contrast to this life approach came to those with severe handicaps or difficult life situations. I can vividly remember meeting elderly people who had been important influences when my Dad was my age as a child. There were several occasions where their life was in the final stages and they were fighting for each breath or striving to deal with the pain of a disease slowly overtaking them. We always walked away discussing the brightness of the spirit, admiration for their contributions past and present, and a reflective observation of how we had nothing worth complaining.
I find myself in the paradox of discipline and sympathy every day. How far do I go in understanding another's shoes? How much am I willing to let deliverables be unachieved because of issues that have a higher priority in someone's life.
How kind will I be to myself?
There is a value that I hold more important than achievement, compassion. I accepted God's gift of mercy, love, and grace; I accepted God's compassion. The power of this gift is overwhelming. Achieving anything is worthless without mercy, love, and grace.
As another day dawns, there is a reminder to guides actions and decisions. “Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.” (Romans 14.1)