They get it

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Public comprehends promise of “Doing the most good.”

by George Hood, Major –

About a week before Christmas I was invited to do an interview with National Public Radio (NPR). A surprise came after the interview. As we were leaving the studio, Michele Martin, host of NPR’s “Tell Me More,” began to talk to me about “Doing The Most Good.” She expressed how the phrase clearly identifies The Salvation Army and moves her personally. In her words, “This is a perfect tag line for The Salvation Army; it is appropriately definitive of who you are.” She openly admitted that she cries every time she sees our “bell-ringer” television commercial.

Obviously I was elated, but she wasn’t finished. “I had a guest in here last week who has posted a blog entry about his deep appreciation for your branding promise, “Doing The Most Good.” I was stunned as she went on to explain that she did an interview segment with him on her show and they discussed our branding and the promise made to America.

Her guest, Richard Harwood, operates the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, encouraging people to imagine and act for the public good. The following is a condensed segment from their broadcast conversation.

MARTIN: You took The Salvation Army tag line, “Doing the Most Good”, and you broke it down into its component parts. I’d like you to take me through that exercise of how to think about ways we can do good in this holiday season. First of all, “do.”

HARWOOD: First, I absolutely love this tag line: “Doing the Most Good.”

“Do,” it’s a short word. It’s almost the shortest you can have—two letters. And it says, be active, be engaged, make of yourself something. It’s a very active word.

The second part—“the most”—says to me that we should distinguish between the things that we think about doing, that we should make choices and our choices matter, that they count.

And lastly, the word “good.” It suggests that it’s more than just about me and what I want as a giver or someone donating to a fund or to charity. It’s for something larger. There’s a kind of moral imperative in the word “good”—a civic compass that we want to face in a certain direction, and that direction is to bring about goodness for society not just benefit for ourselves.

On his blog, Harwood wrote, “‘Doing the Most Good’ says to me that each of us should come to see, understand, and act on a larger aspiration: that our efforts should seek to repair the breeches in our society. This requires change, not simply more charity…nor am I here to make a plug for The Salvation Army. Instead, the sound of the bells and the sight of the Red Kettles create a clarion call to each of us; the simple tag line, ‘Doing the Most Good’, is like an accompanying civic prayer. Together, they are an entreaty to examine our own efforts and determine if we are on the right path. There is much work to do.”

Harwood and Martin get it! It’s for something larger. There’s a moral imperative. There’s a civic compass. It’s about making choices that matter and make a difference. It’s about change, not simply more charity. They get it. I remain mystified as to why some of our own continue to reject it.

Slogan for a lifestyle
In Titus 3:3-8 Paul spells out the theological reason why we can expect Christians to have a social conscience and to behave responsibly in public life (as well as in private life): “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.”

Paul wants us to come to terms with the concept of salvation. He isolates six ingredients of salvation—its need, its source, its ground, its means, its goal and its evidence. Evidence is how it proves itself. We are the most powerful catalysts for evidence that there can be. We either help people get it, or we confound them in our self-content.

Doing the most good is the consistent portrayal of a lifestyle that every Salvationist is called to live. It is an intentional commitment to consistently live a life of integrity, compassion, passion, humility, sacrifice and disciplined faith. To reject the lifestyle that God’s great gift of salvation has brought to me and to you would be to casually dismiss the very theology we embrace within our name. We honor his gift of salvation by doing the most good.

I hope you get it.

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