Laurence J. Peter and I are close friends. Although I've never laid eyes on him, I've smiled at his comments and nodded at his conclusions...amazed at his remarkable insight into my own life and those around me.
The simple answer to the riddle is this: I own a copy of his book The Peter Prescription, and you should too! It's an insignificant looking paperback filled with significant, sound principles. He says it talks about "How to Be Creative, Confident, and Competent," but I think he overlooked a better word: how to be Content.
Isn't it strange that we need a book to help us experience what ought to come naturally? No, not really...not when we've been programmed to compete, achieve, increase, fight, and worry our way up the so-called ladder of success (which few can even define).
Face it. You and I are afraid that if we open the door of contentment, two uninvited guests will rush in: loss of prestige and laziness. We really believe that "getting to the top" is worth any sacrifice. To proud Americans, contentment is something to be enjoyed between birth and preschool...retirement and the rest home...or (and this will hurt) among those who have no ambition.
Stop and think. A young man with keen mechanical skills is often counselled against being contented to "settle" for a trade right out of high school. A teacher who is competent, contented, and fulfilled in the classroom is frowned upon if she turns down an offer to become a principal. The owner of Super-Duper Hamburgers on the corner has a packed-out joint every day, but chances are selfish ambition won't let him rest until he opens 10 other joints and gets rich—leaving contentment behind.
Now, listen to Jesus: "Be content with your wages" (Luke 3:14). Hear Paul: "I am well content with weaknesses," and, "If we have food and covering...be content!" (2 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Timothy 6:8). And hear another apostle: "Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have" (Hebrews 13:5).
I warn you: This isn't easy to implement. You'll be outnumbered and outvoted. You'll have to fight the urge to conform. Even the greatest of all the apostles admitted, "I have learned to be content" (Philippians 4:11). It's a learning process...and it isn't very enjoyable marching out of step until you are convinced you're listening to the right drummer.
When you're fully convinced, however, you'll be free, indeed!
"Striving to better, oft we mar what's well" (William Shakespeare).
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.