“What won’t bend must break”

I call it the “Zijlker Factor”I have been reading about the history of the oil industry and today, in Daniel Yergin’s book titled “The Prize”, I was somewhere in the Dutch East Indies. If you check on Google Maps that is somewhere in the islands between India, Thailand and Australia.

In this area once lived a man who had worked so hard in life trying to establish a successful oil business. His name was Aeilko Jans Zijlker. He “had come out of the lonely life of the East Indies….after a failed love affair.” Well, after ten years of hard labour success was in sight. He was able to get sponsorship from powerful people including the Dutch King!

The ten years of Mr Zijlker’s sacrifice was beginning to bear fruit. And it is here that we are interested in his character. “What won’t bend must break” he wrote in a letter. “Throughout the entire exploration, my motto was: whoever is not with me is against me, and I shall treat him accordingly. I know well enough that this motto earns me enemies, but I know also that had I not acted as I did, I should never have accomplished the business.”

Clearly, in Mr Zijlker’s world, he was the centre of gravity to which every prospective partner or idea had to align. But make no mistake, this was a great man with persistence, wit and certainly a bright future awaited him. But in this life one seldom goes far with self-centredness. Could this be the reason why it took ten years for Mr Zijlker to be successful? One needs to respect, accommodate and cherish friendship. Mr Zijlker was right when he said, “What won’t bend must break”, but one wishes he had applied this principle to his own life. It was in the autumn of 1890, just a few months after launching his now successful company, whilst in Singapore he died suddenly and his vision and passions were never fulfilled. Mr Zijlker had never wanted anyone to rob him of his reward of ten years labor but death prevailed and gave the joys of his labors to other people. Yergin writes, “His grave was marked with an inconspicuous monument.” This statement reminds me of  Proverbs 5:9-10.

Are you a husband or wife? Know that “What won’t bend must break”; accommodate each other’s likes and dislikes. Think about it, Why did Mr Zijlker’s love affair fail? Could it be that his philosophy of “whoever is not with me is against me” spoiled the relationship? We may not know, but one thing is certain, self-centredness and being always right are vices that kill relationships faster than anything I know, especially if they manifest in a woman (Prov.14:1, 16:32, 17:27-28, 27:15).

Are you a Christian? Know that “What won’t bend must break”; find a place in your heart to bow and confess your faults to people you wrong. Always remember that “He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat. He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered” (Pro.28:25-26).


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