Don’t just be right… do right

We know every basketball player will miss some shots… so why do we expect others to be right all the time. And when they are wrong, how do we act?

“You welcome the one who joyfully does what is right.” Isaiah 64:5a

Do you ever read something and the unique combination of words just opens your mind to a truth?

This morning the words describing a person who “JOYFULLY does what is RIGHT” lept off the page and furrowed my brow.

Do you know people are who are doing the right thing but with totally the WRONG attitude.

They stomp their foot and say, “Well this is the right thing and I'm going to do it if it just kills me” and then proceed to be so cranky and fussy that everyone knows they are doing the RIGHT thing and perhaps it is the RIGHT thing but they do it with such a WRONG attitude that you can't stomach being around the person?

Inside comes out more than you think.

As teachers, we are surrounded with doing the right thing for kids all the time. I can put on my happy face and serve my students with joy but if inside, I'm seething and angry and fussy and cranky, it does come out. It comes out when they're looking and I'm not. It comes out when they ask me a question.

But what about those WRONG decisions that vex me?

There are things that happen that are WRONG and decisions that are made that are WRONG. But that is the thing, we humans make wrong decisions and have the right to do so. Your administration, I promise you, will make some whoppers of wrong decisions and so will you. And if you don't cut your admin slack when they mess up, you're going to be eating a very unpleasant dinner when your whopper is served up steaming hot – because eventually, if you live long enough, you will screw up too.

But to joyfully do the right thing?

But this word – JOYFULLY do what is right. Does it stick in your craw like it does for me? I just can't quite swallow that task to joyfully do what is right. Because I get angry sometimes. Some things aren't fair, aren't right, and stink to high heaven like the pile of organic fertilizer that gets the buzzards circling in my hometown. It might be the right thing for me to do to just suck it up and let the bad decision be made, but to be joyful about it? To joyfully do the right thing?

I don't have an answer for you today or quite honestly, one for me. I only accept these words as a true challenge to my soul and behavior.

If I do the RIGHT thing in a WRONG way does that make me less effective? Does it make me WRONG too?

You see them coming. The freight train. Filled with holy indignation, they are doing the right thing – don't get in their way — they are RIGHT and they are coming THROUGH – through YOU if they have to.They are so right that you'd better not open your mouth or they will just cut your head off with a ginsu sharp word and keep on charging as the books on the bookshelves rattle and the stapler on your desk moves with the vibrating sound of the t-rex going by. They are RIGHT. Holy indignant -but right and everyone knows they are right. But God forbid, don't get stuck in a room with them. The poisonous dart of the vindictively right person will knock your attitude out faster than getting hit with a sleep inducing tribal blow gun from 10 feet.

Some of the most harmful things in a school are the right person who chooses not to forgive and goes about letting everyone know it in the WRONG way. How many times do you have to rub our faces in it? — A person screwed up. Now that's a new one, like this person hasn't screwed up before and won't again. And you really have to remind me years later about that screw up? Do you want others to keep such records on you?

We can't minimize trying to do the right thing. But when people care more about being right than doing right, you've got a problem.

Ultimately, there is only one person in my school I have any control over at all… ME. And I can strive for and seek to “joyfully do what is right.”

Lest you think this is just to teachers… if you have teenagers or tots, this applies to you. If you're RIGHT as a parent but you go about dealing with it in the WRONG way – you might as well have been wrong in the eyes of your child who sees everything and sees every attitude.

Don't just be right – do right. And do right joyfully. A lofty goal, but one worth pursing.


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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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