When You Suffer From Terminal Niceness


A few years ago I read an article by Darla Isackson titled “Jesus Wasn’t Always Nice.” I quote part of her article:

“I’ve suffered from terminal niceness most of my life. It has almost killed me. Why? Because a commitment to niceness can compromise integrity. Integrity is the very essence of the spirit self, so when I have been nice instead of honest I’ve sometimes betrayed myself — lost myself. Sometimes I’ve been nice when the real need of the situation was to stand up and be counted. When I’ve been nice instead of courageous I’ve missed great opportunities to stand for the right. It isn’t always right to be nice.”

Like this writer I have learned that being “nice” is a great attribute but not when it means compromising ones principles or position. Over the years I have had numerous opportunities to counsel with people. Sometimes I have had to give advice and counsel that is hard to give and for the receiver to hear. Most often we both have left our time spent together enriched, but on occasion someone has not liked what I have said. I have never intended to offend but when faced with standing for the right or being liked, I vote for the former. Nevertheless, telling someone something they don’t want to hear is never easy. But being nice while relinquishing our standards is not what the Savior taught or practiced.

An example of being “nice” and giving in to the demands of men is repeated by Darla Isackson in the oft told story of Joseph Smith and Martin Harris. Quoting:

“The scriptures document the devastation that results from relying on the arm of flesh. In modern times, we have the example of Joseph Smith giving in to Martin Harris’s relentless request to take the 116 pages.
Joseph really wanted to be nice to Martin, to please him, because Martin had been such a faithful supporter. When the pages were lost, Joseph was severely chastised and told he should not fear man more than God. Joseph took the Lord’s advice to heart. The Lord gave him reassurance, and reminders. In D&C 122:8 Joseph was told, “Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.”

We want to be nice, loving, and kind to all, but not at the expense of our integrity and honor. Our Savior knew the difference and although loving he was not afraid to call a “spade a spade.” May we look to balance the two while following the example of the Savior.

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