Years ago I heard a speaker define the difference between management and leadership this way: doing things right versus doing the right things. Whether you agree with their decision or not we saw the international chain, Dick's Sporting Goods, seek to be a leader this week. In response to the Parkland, FL shooting, they made the decision to no longer sell assault-style weapons. In the same day Walmart joined them and removed toy guns as well. Both retailers raised the minimum age of gun purchase to 21 years regardless of local laws. You can read more here. Other retail stores are taking similar stands.
Dick's Sporting Goods CEO, Edward Stack, acknowledged that the shooter in the Douglas High School massacre had purchased a shot gun at one of their stores in November. While the gun was not used at the school, he was still disturbed that this happened. He said, "We did everything by the book, we did everything the law required and still he was able to buy a gun...The systems that are in place across the board just aren't effective enough to keep us from selling someone a gun like that."
Of course, many are already saying their action won't change things. Some even say it is somewhat of a publicity stunt to appeal to what is obviously majority public sentiment. But within this news is a powerful truth - we lead not by doing not what is allowable, but what we believe is right. So what is St. Luke's doing to lead? I am grateful for our church's Social Action Team; for their response to my request to put together educational and response opportunities for our congregation and community. We are looking at a number of things: a forum that teaches and explains current laws and the issues related to changes. The effort is to present facts in a fair and balanced way. To get the kind of leaders we hope to include, it may take until May. In the meantime they want to look at ways to support community events like a students' march on March 24. Possibly the night before we could hold a forum with various faith leaders sharing what their religious stand is. We are also looking at events to educate and inform around practicing gun safety, requirements for our church, and mental health awareness. So, be on the lookout for much more to come.
As well, there has been a great response from so many of you writing letters to our elected leaders. If you still wish to do so, you can bring a letter with you Sunday, place it in the offering plate to be prayed over and sent together. Wherever you stand, this is your opportunity to voice your concern. This is a response to a campaign launched by my friend, Ken Carter, the bishop of Florida. To see what he says as well as view sample letters, click here. We will again have this information available at the Welcome Centers Sunday morning. If you prefer to send emails you can click here for a list of our senators and representatives. More information about specific events will be forthcoming.
So let's step away from the gun discussion and return to that simple idea of doing right things versus doing things right. Life always comes down to the decision of every person to determine for him or herself to do what they know to be right, not just do what is commonly practiced the right way. As Christians we are mandated to act according to Jesus, no other person or constitution. If we truly call him Lord and Savior, then we say His way is best. We ask in every circumstance and decision, how does the life and character of Jesus inform the way I should respond to the issues of our world? With Christ as our guide we never go wrong.
No matter what the issue is, we are called to do what we feel inside of us is right, based on the model of Jesus. The odd paradox is, we lead when we follow. The closer we stay behind Him, the more out front we become in doing the right things.