The Next Right Thing
Here’s a fun fact you may not know about your pastor. If you name a classic Disney movie the probability is high that I have not seen it. Or if I have, I have only seen it in the last five years. These movies were simply not a part of my upbringing.
As the dad of two however, I am now becoming engaged in the Disney universe and what it has to offer. Every film of course has its own plot, idiosyncrasies, and over-arching theme and features. I engage these different elements with my four and six-year-old co-critics on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes out of seemingly nowhere Grace will ask me “But dad, why did [insert some part of the plot] happen?” Sometimes these questions have answers, other times I tell them it’s best left to their own interpretation.
The Frozen series is, of course, a new phenomenon. It’s great for us because it focuses in on the love of sisters and believing in the power of one’s self. In Frozen 2 there is a quote that struck me when I heard it and it still strikes me to this day. Truth was spoken on film by a very small, but very wise troll. Here’s the quote:
“When one can see no future, all one can do is the next right thing.”
These are words spoken for our time. As July has come to an end and August begins, this troll-ish wisdom remains in the forefront of my mind. In so many ways, this is what so many of us are doing right now. And ‘doing the next right thing’ this is more than just another way of saying we’re focusing on the next step. In so many ways, this is a workable mantra for living the COVID life.
Doing ‘the next right thing’ takes discipline, courage, and faith. That’s because most often the next right thing is not the same as the next easy thing. I have learned that in the church the next right thing is the step that focuses on community over self and discipline over convenience. I have learned that in parenting doing the ‘next right thing’ often means deeply listening to get to what is at the core of the concern.
When choices aren’t clear, and there are many unclear choices right now, doing the next right thing is all we can do and should do. Unclear choices can wreak havoc on our emotions and our psyche. We are conditioned to want to choose between two things, one path or the other, the right way or the wrong way. We are conditioned to choosing and then either being rewarded for the right choice or disappointed or disciplined for the wrong one. The past few months have provided few big choices that are so clear.
Focusing on the ‘next right thing’ is what is guiding me as a pastor, a parent, and a husband right now. I challenge you and invite you to speak and live this mantra too.