Friday, December 21, 2012

Reconciling the Public's Trust, Doing the Right Thing

Doing The Right Thing part 1

A few years before we left officership, members of The Salvation Army Commissioner's Conference accepted the challenge being presented to them from their new motto of "Doing the Most Good"

As I understand the intent behind the change, this was never intended to be braggadocio, rather the call for every Salvationist to strive to be as good as the public believes them to be.

This is a daunting responsibility, promising to do the most amount of good people think you do. However, I am confident it can be realized as Army leadership commits to seeking the will and blessing of God on every decision regardless of the perceived potential impact to the organization.

Last week I learned of a good friend's decision to alert the waitress who was serving her that she had undercharged their lunch bill by $8.00.

This past Sunday following church the same thing happened to my family as our server forgot to charge the additional $12.00 for our sodas.

Doing the right thing didn’t take much thought, prayer or deliberation…we just did it because we already knew the right thing to do!

You may be saying, "So what, the total impact of the two transactions is a measly $20.00!"

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life estimates the number of adult Christians in the United States to be approximately 247 million.

What would happen if every Christ Follower had just 1 similar experience sometime over the next 12 months?

We would have nearly 2.5 billion dollars in acts of credibility.

Once again you would be correct to say that there are many who would do the same thing, even though they would not call themselves followers of Christ.

Perhaps the difference is because of the One we have chosen to follow. You see this kind of simple action should foundationally and fundamentally be the fabric of the Christ follower.

Sadly too often instead of being seen as making a positive contribution to society, much of the collateral of our testimony has been expended on those things we stand against and or even used for what appears to be self interest.

Doing The Right Thing part 2

There is ongoing debate about what it looks like for an organization to do the right thing and for the Army to do the most good.
Some questions that are asked in determining what is right may include;
1.   Is the organization worth protecting at all cost regardless of the hurt caused to individuals (Penn State University and Jerry Sandusky, The Church and pedophile clergy) 
2.   Is the organization of more value than the individual?
3.   Can there be more than one right thing of equal value?
4.   What criteria should be used in determining the right thing (the Bible, a business model, a legal, or ethical basis, pragmatism, other?)
5.   Who ultimately determines the right thing (a small group of individuals at the top or does the group have input in determining values)

I have a good friend who likes to remind me that position determines perspective. This is very true. But my question is does position determine right from wrong or better from best?

Are we comfortable with the thought that because a person or persons have been given authority they can decide what is right or wrong, better or best?

Perhaps those who have been entrusted with such power should first covenant to understand and fully embrace God's heart without allowing their position to deceive them into believing they are responsible for determining right from wrong, better from best.

In George Barna's book Think Like Jesus he states, "The emphasis of many churches with a biblical worldview is to not only teach biblical perspectives, but also to help people connect the dots of the core principles taught. The goal is to facilitate a means of interpreting and responding to every life situation that is consistent with God's expectations. These are not perfect people, but once they catch on to the critical principles found in the Bible and train their minds to incorporate those views into their thinking, their behavior varies noticeably from the norm."

My disclaimer is that many years ago I came to the realization that I am rarely if ever in a position to offer the final judgment on most situations. Life is complicated and we are rarely blessed with all the facts.

Salvation Army, you have accepted the challenge to, "Do the Most Good" My prayer for you as you continue this ministry journey is that you will also accept the challenge to always, "Do the Right Thing!?

Jeff Bassett
Former Officer
USA Eastern Territory


Anonymous said...

The deep insoluble problem is identifying the "right thing": we will all have different perceptions of the right thing, depending on our education, intellectual ability, our facility to filter fact from fiction and given as Mr Bassett said that we rarely have the full facts when facing a problem.

I think it was George Bernard Shaw who said "Don't do unto others what you would have them do unto you: as they will be different" What might be "right" for some might not be so for others.

Very difficult.

I have been visiting this site for but a few weeks, and with some exceptions I have read more sensible, non-ideological things written by ex-Officers than I have heard in nearly 70 years from serving Officers. Why did you have to leave before sense dawned? Or were you all restrained by the Army's rigid intellectual straight jacket?

With kind regards to everyone

Old Hornblower

Anonymous said...

In googling Covenant & FSAOF I came across this pearl from Major Court. As is his style, he gives it to us straight and to the point. His best overall argument? He lives it...

The Salvation Army enjoys an excellent reputation. We have great credibility. Praise God for those who boldly and faithfully fought over the last 147 years or so to establish this profile.

With some exceptions, though, we don’t leverage our considerable reputation and credibility to ‘persevere on the lines of aggression’. Instead of exploiting it, we protect it. We treasure the favour we enjoy. We avoid strategies that would threaten the status quo in society. We make rationalizations that we are working behind the scenes to accomplish the same ends. We fail to watch against the natural conservatism of character.

Wake up!

We’re not aiming to please society but our Saviour. We’re not looking to win kudos but to win converts. We’re not shooting for a slot on another top ten list (of enduring institutions, top charities, best organizations) but a spot in the hall of faith.

So, what to do?

Well, after we take care of conquering ourselves, let’s leverage. Let’s fight against evil. Let’s risk everything for the Gospel. Let’s pour our resources – people, reputation, networks, infrastructure, cash, properties, etc. – into the salvation war NOW, instead of building up a nest egg that will ultimately rot away.

One way to fight the natural conservatism of character is to aim to invest everything we have into the salvation war now – aiming to win while we live in this town, have this appointment, while we are in this decade. If the decade is out and we haven’t poured everything we have into the war, have we any reason to be surprised or disappointed that the war hasn’t been won?

Stephen Court

Anonymous said...

General Frederick Coutts in speaking of the SA's enviable reputation in the USA said words to this effect; Take care of reality by doing your work well and the public's perception will follow.

1965 New York Centenary

Anonymous said...

Always a challenge to shake people & organizations out of their complacency. I pray that the new General, Gen. Bond will give leadership that shakes off the cobwebs & addresses what the Army needs to do to be relevant in today's society.

Former SA Officer
Can. & Ber.