While walking up the road, a man, his son, and their donkey passed by four houses.
As they past the first house, the man walked ahead of the donkey, guiding him by the reigns, and his son was riding the donkey. On the porch of the first house, sat a harsh critic. At the sight of the group passing by, the critic thought to himself, “What poor discipline. That father needs to make that kid walk so he’ll understand how tough life can get.”
After the group had passed by the first house, the man asked his son if he would like to guide the donkey for a while. The son obliged and the man sat on top of the donkey. As they passed the second house, a second critic on the porch thought to himself, “Well I must say. If that isn’t sheer laziness and pure lack of discipline on that father’s part, I sure don’t know what is.”
By the time they came to the third house, both the man and his son had decided to ride the donkey up the road. The critic at this house, looked at the sight and said, “Those cruel pet owners. That poor donkey is having to carry a full load, while they sit back and do nothing.”
Finally, upon passing the last house, the man and his son walked along together, while the man guided the donkey along with the reigns. Once again, a fourth critic looked at the sight and thought to himself, “How silly. That man and boy have a perfectly good donkey to ride on. They don’t even have to walk.”
I’m sure you already determined that the moral of the story is the one key lesson. You will always be criticized, no matter what you do. Rather than trying to please everybody, consider a simple switch that will take the pressure off of you. As one orator put it, “…we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). In a nutshell, pleasing one person (or two if you count yourself) is much easier to do than trying to do the same for seven billion people.