We have a new favorite television miniseries – Downton Abbey. I have loved many of Masterpiece Theater’s productions in recent years (Emma, Cranford, Sherlock, to name a few), and Downton Abbey is definitely a new favorite. The script is well-written, Hugh Bonneville is wonderful, and the scenery is gorgeous. I highly recommend it.
Yes, Hugh Bonneville plays a wonderful leading role as the Earl of Grantham, but the entire ensemble cast is filled with brilliant actors and characters. One of my favorites is Brendan Coyle, who plays Lord Grantham’s valet John Bates.
Without giving away too much of the story, Mr. Bates has a disability which keeps him from fullfilling some of his responsibilities as a servant. However, he performs his duties to the very best of his abilities, is fiercly loyal to his employer, and shows himself to be a man of honor.
And yet, precisely because of his integrity, others among the staff do not like him, and work very hard to have him dismissed. And all the while, he maintains his honor.
I think the same thing is true in life. When we try to do the “right thing,” not everyone will like us. In fact, doing the right thing may make others dislike us all the more. 1 Peter 3:14 comforts us, saying, “But even if you suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled.”
In the end, doing the right thing is the right thing to do, even when others are offended. We think of peer pressure as a teenage problem, but it applies to adults too, and not all adults pressure their friends in the right way. We can feel pressured to participate in gossip, to be poor stewards of our money, to look and dress a certain way, to have the “right” friends or job, to attend only a certain church or not to attend church at all, and so on.
But just like Mr. Bates, we have each been called to a task, and we should do it to the best of our ability, with honor and integrity. We probably won’t become rich or popular this way, but we can stand at the end of each day with a clear conscience, knowing we have done our best. God will take care of the rest.