A few days ago I was talking to an older, wiser, and very gifted pastor who was kind enough to spend an hour answering my naive questions about how to pastor well. (Whether you can tell or not, I actually ask a lot of people for advice!) At one point, I asked him something about leadership and the future of the church and he said something that really stuck with me:
“Well, do no harm.”
You might recognize this as one of the Wesleyan “3 Simple Rules.” I talk about them a decent amount, and I’ve heard them before. So it’s not the advice itself that stuck with me. It was the matter-of-fact way he said it—as if this could actually be a guide to making big decisions. “Well, do no harm” suddenly seemed less like an abstract nicety to believe in, and more of a real response to a broken world.
I’ve especially been thinking about it these last few days as hospitals fill up again and people consider the possibility of returning to a mask mandate. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been heartbroken seeing the anger, suspicion, and lack of compassion in our community. It became real for me last week when we had a funeral and the family requested that all guests wear a mask. One of our staff members shared with me how they had multiple people refuse to wear it until it was explained that we were simply honoring the family’s wishes. We had people make an issue out of masks … at a funeral.
I don’t know if our country has always been so selfish—so unwilling to give up some of our own comforts for the sake of others—or if this is a new phenomenon eating away at our communities. But either way, for me, the 3 Simple Rules feel like a life vest in the ocean. They give me something to focus on for my life—even if I don’t see other people living that way.
Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God.
It reminds me of the grandfather who came to church recently with a mask even though he had been vaccinated. He said, “I’m wearing mine until my granddaughter can get her vaccine, too!” Not because he had to—but because he wanted to support someone vulnerable. So this week when the topic comes up again—masks, Delta variant, vaccines—just remember that no matter what forces are at play, ask yourself: "What does it look like for me to 'do no harm'?"
By the way, the director of the NIH who helped spearhead the development of the vaccine is an outspoken Christian doctor named Francis Collins. He’s also Dr. Anthony Fauci’s boss. Here’s a video (https://bit.ly/2021vacc) of him answering questions about the vaccine! I just so appreciate the work they’ve done to save lives … which is in line with the second of the Wesleyan 3 Simple Rules :)
Just some thoughts. Take 'em or leave 'em, but I’d just invite you to join me in praying for our church and our community as we figure out how to follow Jesus in the midst of everything else.
P.S. Just a reminder that the church is currently a mask-optional space for vaccinated individuals, but Jackson County has a mask mandate beginning Monday. We'll be
complying with this for all events in our facilities beginning Monday, August 9. Let's pray that lives are saved!