Doing What Is Right
Last month we talked about KNOWING WHAT IS RIGHT. We follow that with this month’s DOING WHAT IS RIGHT. We must first know what is the right thing to do before we can start doing. The more precise we are in knowing what is the right thing to do, the greater the results can be from our efforts. Think about what to do before acting.
This month let’s talk about doing what is right. Most of us want to do the right thing. Typically, our first thought when wanting to do the right thing is to ponder what do we want. Wrong approach. This would be an egocentric approach. The right questions to ask, in the proper order are a) what is God’s will, b) what does the situation require and c) how can I make a positive intervention? Start by looking outside of yourself, not inside.
First, what is God’s will? Our greatest temptation here is to confuse our will with God’s will. We think about what wewant and then rationalize that this must be what God wants. Wrong approach. Seeking God’s will starts with submission of self to prayer. Earnest prayer, not God please give me what I want. Sometimes it takes time. When we feel we have God’s will, even if it makes us uncomfortable, we need to act upon God’s will.
Second, what does the situation require? Doing the right thing requires understanding the situation, knowing the setting, getting a feel for what is happening, perceiving what is required under the circumstances. This requires looking outside of self It requires being observant of what forces are at work and the direction they are taking as well as a perception of not only the current situation but also what the situation is changing into. Observe people, what they are saying and what they are doing. What are their concerns? What would make the situation a happy one? Understand the dynamics of the situation.
Thirdly, what part of my gifts, talents, education and experience can I draw upon to make this a positive intervention? This is a matching process. Each of us has a range of abilities. We can be happy or we can grieve. We can urge action or urge caution. We can motivate or we can calm down a situation. The point is that to intervene positively, we must adjust ourselves to our understanding of the situation and not try to make the situation fit what we want the situation to be. Only after we do that, can we help steer the situation toward a positive end point. Understand and then act. Don’t act and try to understand later unless the building is on fire.
Once those steps are taken, we must muster up sufficient courage to actually do what is right. We started this discussion last month with KNOWING WHAT IS RIGHT. Now it is a matter of DOING WHAT IS RIGHT. Doing the right thing at the right time, in the right way with the right resources still requires courage. If this is God’s will, there need be no hesitation unless God tells us to wait. To follow this three step approach, we must begin by thinking outside of ourselves. Focus on God’s will and the situation around us. Then, and only then, we should focus our courage on doing what is right.
Kenneth Oosting, Ph D