There are times in life when despite our best efforts, we are disappointed with the results, or when our efforts are underappreciated by those we are looking to serve or help. When this happens, we tend to become selective in our efforts basing our performance on the situation or the audience. However, developing the right attitude in life entails always performing to the best of our ability regardless of the circumstances, knowing that everyone deserves our best.
In this regard, there is a tale about a band of musicians that made their living by traveling from one town to another, performing their music. Times were hard and they were not earning much money. The poor people who used to come to hear them could no longer afford the small fee they charged for their music. Attendance was steadily dropping until only a few people were turning out to hear the performances.
One day, the group met to decide what to do.
One said, “I see no reason for performing tonight with so few people coming.”
Another one noticed that snow had started to fall and said, “Look! Who will come out tonight with the snow falling like this?”
A third added, “Yes, last night we had very few people. If it snows like this tonight, even fewer will come. Let’s return their small fees and cancel.”
The first one agreed and said, “You are right. No one can expect us to keep playing when only a few are in the audience.”
The second one said, “Yes. Who can expect anyone to do their best for just a few people?”
The fourth musician had been sitting silently, listening to the conversation. The others turned to him and said, “What do you think?”
He said, “I know you are discouraged. I am also discouraged. But we have a responsibility to those who come. We will continue to play, and we will do the best job we can. It is not the fault of those who come that others do not come. They should not be punished by our giving less than we can give.”
The other musicians felt encouraged by his words and decided to play that night. They gave one of the best performances of their lives.
When the show was over and everyone had left, the fourth musician called the troupe together and handed them a note. He said, “One of the audience members left this note for us before the doors closed behind him.” He opened the note and it read: “Thank you for a beautiful performance tonight.” The note was signed “Your King.”
The lesson of the king
There is an important lesson in this story: the band’s decision to play their best happened to fall on the night that the king surprised them with an appearance. Yet they had decided to give their best to whoever came. This is the attitude with which we should always work. It is an attitude of realizing that everyone has a king in them. Everyone is important. We all have a soul in us and we are all a part of God. When we work with an attitude that every person deserves the best we can give, we are honoring the God within everyone.
Some people only work hard to please certain people. They may give their best for their boss, or for the rich, or for someone who can do them a favor. But great are the people who do their best for the poor, or for those who have nothing to give them. Great are the people who treat all equally well.
Another lesson we can derive from this story is that we should not be discouraged when it seems that only a few are appreciating our work or benefiting from us. It is said that if we can transform even one life, our life is worth living. When we make an effort and the expected crowds do not turn up, we are still being of service to those who do show up, even if it is only one or two. We are making a difference in those people’s lives. We should not give up in discouragement. The musicians played for only a few, but one of them turned out to be the king.
Everything we do is seen by God. We should always do and give our best. The reward is in the service, not the fruits of the service. If we live in this way, we will go to bed each night with the satisfaction of knowing that we have given our all. We will be blessed with the joy and bliss from within that come from giving our best to everyone we meet.