Approve not of him that commends all you say
The quote is a reminder to be cautious of those who constantly agree with everything you say or do. This type of person is often referred to as a “yes-man” or “sycophant.”
A parable that illustrates this concept in a magical story
Gustaf Brave Warrior
Once upon a time, in a magical kingdom, there was a wise old master Ben, who had a young apprentice named Kia. Kia was eager to learn all he could from old Ben and would often ask for his advice. Old Ben was pleased with Kia’s eagerness to learn and would always take the time to teach him the ways of the kingdom.
One day, while they were out on a walk, they came across Frode, old man, who would constantly agree with everything the old master said. Old Ben said to Kia, “Approve not of him that commends all you say.” Kia was confused by this statement and asked his master to explain.
Old Ben began, “My young apprentice, you see Frode standing over there? He is a flatterer. He will say anything to make us happy, but he is not to be trusted. Frode is not giving us honest advice, he is only telling us what he thinks we want to hear.”
Kia was still confused, “But master, why is that a bad thing? Shouldn’t we want people to agree with us?”
Old Ben smiled, “Ah, my young apprentice, you have much to learn. When someone always agrees with us, we begin to think we are always right. We become arrogant and make bad decisions. It is important to have people in our lives who will give us honest and constructive feedback, even if it is not always what we want to hear.”
Old Ben then told Kia a story of a great hero named Gustaf, who lived in the kingdom long ago. Gustaf was a brave warrior who had saved the kingdom from many dangers. Gustaf was loved by the people and was known for his wisdom.
However, Gustaf began to surround himself with flatterers who would always agree with him. Gustaf began to make bad decisions and the kingdom began to suffer. The people were unhappy and Gustaf’s reputation was tarnished.
Kia listened intently as his old master continued, “Gustaf learned the hard way that it is important to have people in our lives who will give us honest and constructive feedback, even if it is not always what we want to hear.
He banished the flatterers from his kingdom and made better decisions. Gustaf once again became the hero the kingdom loved.”
Old Ben then looked at Kia, “My young apprentice, if you want to be a great hero like Gustaf, you must surround yourself with people who will give you honest and constructive feedback. Never approve of those who constantly agree with everything you say.”
Kia understood his old master’s words and knew that he must be careful of flatterers. Kia vowed to always seek out people who would give him honest and constructive feedback.
As Kia grew older and became a great hero, just like Gustaf, he always remembered his old master’s words, “Approve not of him that commends all you say.” Kia knew that by surrounding himself with people who would give him honest and constructive feedback, he would always make the best decisions for the kingdom and its people.
The moral of this story is meant to illustrate that it is important to be wary of people who constantly agree with everything we say or do.
These people, often referred to as “yes-men” or “sycophants,” may not have our best interests at heart and can lead us to make bad decisions.
Surrounding ourselves with people who will give us honest and constructive feedback, even if it is not always what we want to hear, is essential for making good decisions and being a true leader.
Extract from the book; Master Ben and Kia the Young Apprentice: A book on moral values inspired by Ben Franklin – Volume 3
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