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The Paradoxical Commandments were written by Kent Keith when he was a sophomore at Harvard in 1968. In the nearly 50 years since it was published in Keith’s book for student leaders, it has showed up in sermons, on websites, in a book by Dr. Robert Schuller, and is reported to have been displayed on the wall of Mother Teresa’s children’s home in Calcutta. Whichever version you prefer, it’s a timeless bit of wisdom. I remembered them as I was mining 1 Peter for the weekend message, because they seem to resemble the essence of his brief epistle. Peter, in the same way, encourages us to live by a totally different ethic. How do we respond to hate and malice, division and discord? We rise above it!

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 them.
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.

The Paradoxical Commandments by Dr. Kent M. Keith