You're Doing It Wrong!
“Mom, what do we DO with all of this?”
My young children whispered their overwhelmed anxiety as they took in the array of china, silver, and crystal in front of each of them. Our family had been invited to a fancy wedding reception, children included. I knew they would behave well and appropriately since we had carefully guided their table manners over the years. However, these elaborate place settings intimidated us all.
“Just start using the silverware furthest from the plate and move inward. You won’t need all of the glassware. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure what to do. You’ll be fine.”
There are times when we feel awkward, unsure of how to proceed. It doesn’t have to be a fancy dinner. It can be a new cultural experience, or a new job. We don’t want to look foolish, but more importantly, we don’t want to mess things up!
Doing things the correct way has its advantages. Things run smoothly and efficiently. Problems and accidents are mitigated. At times a wrong approach or move can be disastrous.
For some things there truly is a right and wrong approach. Rules and regulations do have their rightful place. If it’s not going to get us to the desired goal, result, location … then someone had better step in. Not knowing how to do something and struggling to accomplish something the best way we can is painful. How grateful I am for the concerned, helpful hand someone gives me, especially when it isn’t accompanied with a critical comment from an all-knowing expert!
On the other hand, “Doing it wrong” can really mean “Doing it not according to what someone else has determined is the right way.”
Sometimes I enjoy the process of doing the task as much as the outcome. When my “get it done” husband tries to step in to move things along, I tell him sweetly, “No thanks. I like doing it this way.”
As a teacher I had parents who had all sorts of suggestions as to how I was “doing it wrong.” Often times they were former teachers who just wanted me to teach their way.
Just because someone else determines the “right way” doesn’t negate our efforts. And when someone doesn’t do it the way we think it should be done, it shouldn’t be a cause for argument or derision. Different doesn’t necessarily mean wrong.
Whenever we lead, we need to take stock of our methods, our routines, our policies. Do we sometimes jump in to declare our way? Insist on doing it our way? Not listening to hear other options to reaching the same goals? Absolutely sure we’ve got the right answer?
We may think a particular procedure is not as efficient, but someone else might think it’s more creative. Or maybe it includes input from more people or involves more people in the ownership of a project. Maybe a more leisurely approach will lower stress, create a better working/learning environment, allow knowledge and understanding to sink in.
After all, God wasn’t always about efficiency. I’m thinking of the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness that He used to not only punish those who lacked trust in His wisdom but also to solidify His relationship with His chosen people (Numbers 14:20-35).
And maybe that’s when efficiency doesn’t matter… in building relationships … with our spouse, our friends, our children, our employees, our coworkers.
The question remains: Who do we please? Or more to the point, who should we please?
Our Lord Jesus dealt with that same issue. He had plenty of people telling Him He was doing it wrong. Satan started it off with his temptations in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-10). His disciples were criticized for not doing a ceremonial washing before eating (Matthew 15:2). He was criticized for healing on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:10-12) and eating with sinners (Matthew 9:11).
And of course we too are at fault for criticizing the way God chooses to act. Usually it means, like Jonah, we don’t think He’s being efficient in the use of His power. We aren’t happy He’s allowing time for someone to repent (Jonah 4).
Sometimes we’re told we’re cheering the wrong way or celebrating the wrong way. King David had a falling out with his wife because she was embarrassed by the exuberant way he sang and danced in public. She said it was unseemly for a man of his status and rank. He said he would celebrate the way he wanted to and didn’t need her approval, only God’s (2 Samuel 6:14-22). I like that answer!
Who is to say what is the right and wrong way to celebrate? To cheer? To worship? To grieve? Sometimes we even have to listen to people who tell us we’re actually being Christians the wrong way.
The bottom line is that our Lord Jesus is the only One who truly matters when we’re looking to please. We use His Word and His example to guide our own desires to “do it right.”
But of course we’ll never get it right. Not completely.
And that’s why our Lord Jesus stepped in and took over. He solved the problem. He used His own perfection to cover all of our attempts. He calms the fears that grip our hearts because He doesn’t want us to miss out on all of the wonderful things He sends our way.
I know He will be the last one to criticize my efforts to thank Him, praise Him, celebrate Him. He enjoys my joy in being His child, the joy I feel knowing that He’s done it right!
Leaving my guilt at the cross,
(First published at Lead Like Jesus July 2018)