Monday, 25 March 2013
The right thing to do
Martin Luther King said, ‘On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question, “Is it right?”’
The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of convenience, but where they stand in moments of challenge, moments of great crisis and controversy.
When faced with a difficult situation it is sometimes tempting to start by asking, ‘What is the easiest option?’ ‘Which course of action is most likely to succeed?’ Or, ‘How will this be perceived by others?’ But the first question we should always ask is, ‘What is the right thing to do?’
Doing what is right in difficult situations in the workplace is a huge challenge. In the chapter, ‘Tough Decisions’ in his book, ‘God at Work’, Ken Costa writes, ‘There are right and wrong choices ... all the invented terms such as “inappropriate” and “counter-productive” are efforts to avoid the simple ethical fact that there is a right and wrong course of action.’
When facing a difficult pastoral situation those of us in the leadership of the church try to remind ourselves that the first question we have to ask is, ‘What is the right thing to do?’ And then move to the second question, ‘What is the most pastoral way to do it?’
Of course, none of us get it right all the time. We all make mistakes. As Ken Costa writes, ‘We don’t always get it right ... we are human and not divine. And yes, we rejoice in getting judgements right, but let us not forget that we cannot gain experience without making mistakes and taking wrong decisions ... we only grow in wisdom if we learn from our mistakes. Siegmund Warburg [Ken’s first boss] said on this subject: “Some name it disappointment and become poorer, others name it experience and become richer.” ’