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Doing Things Right vs. Doing Right Things

by | Jul 4, 2022 | West District Notes, West District Web Page

by Rev. Javier Olivares, West District Superintendent

In his book Quietly Courageous, Gil Rendle talks about the difference between management and leadership, and he refers to an old proverb where “management asks the question of whether we are doing things right, while leadership asks the question if we are doing right things.”

There is an abysm between these two approaches. Doing things right I think it is easy because it is familiar to us, it’s what we know to do:

The right number of bulletins, the smooth flow of a worship service, a well-crafted sermon, music, and hymns that go along with the scriptures of that day, having the needed committees lined up with their respective chairs, having job descriptions for staff, protocols and procedures, and the list goes on. We are excellent at doing things right, we strive for it, yet as leaders pastors or laity, we are asked, are we doing right things?

This is the most difficult and as Rendle mentions “deeply disturbing because people must stop to figure out again, who they are, what their purpose is, and how they will live out that purpose in the context that has changed around them.”

Now, there is nothing wrong with doing things right, however then we let the system think for us with no space for change.

In the first comedy movie of Meet the Fockers there’s a scene where Ben Stiller is about to board a flight, in which he is the only passenger waiting to board, and the flight attendant stubbornly calls the order of rows that need to board, so he has to wait his turn regardless…

This would be the modus operandi of doing things right.

Jesus’ ministry was more on doing right things than doing things right. His encounters with the Samaritan, tax collectors, the Canaanite, the woman with a hemorrhage. If you look at Jesus, he was more about doing right things.

As you begin in a new conference year whether as a pastor or lay person, whether it is a new appointment or not, I encourage you to do right things. It does take more work since you have to figure out who you are, who the other person is, the context of your situation, why do you feel discomfort? what is your purpose? How will you live out that purpose?

I close with the hymn “This is the Day of New Beginnings” as a blessing to you and as we move on to do right things.

This Is A Day Of New Beginnings,
Time To Remember And Move On,
Time To Believe What Love Is Bringing,
Laying To Rest The Pain That’s Gone.

For By The Life And Death Of Jesus,
Love’s Mighty Spirit, Now As Then,
Can Make For Us A World Of Difference,
As Faith And Hope Are Born Again.

Then Let Us, With The Spirit’s Daring,
Step From The Past And Leave Behind
Our Disappointment, Guilt, And Grieving,
Seeking New Paths, And Sure To Find.

Christ Is Alive, And Goes Before Us
To Show And Share What Love Can Do.
This Is A Day Of New Beginnings;
Our God Is Making All Things New.

May it be so,

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About the author

Javier Olivares

West District Superintendent

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