Being intentional about what is right without relying on our intentions was message Dale Scully brought to the Spring 2019 Convocation on the Fresno Pacific University main campus.
Scully, vice president of student life since July 1, 2018, spoke to students, administration, faculty and staff Wednesday, January 23, 2019, in the Special Events Center. Each regional campus—Merced, North Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield—hosted its own convocation as well.
The root of Scully’s seemingly paradoxical message is Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good (some translations say ‘doing what’s right’), for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
While society sometimes sweeps aside “right and wrong” as subjective, the Bible states what is good: taking care of the widows and orphans; feeding the hungry and clothing the poor; loving the Lord your God and caring for your neighbor more than yourself; pursuing peace and speaking with kindness; doing justice, loving mercy, walking humbly; being honest and forthright; pursuing wisdom; taking good care of yourself and treating your body like God’s temple. “Clearly, we have been given a blueprint of what’s good,” Scully said.
Even knowing what’s good, however, we can’t help wearily sliding into doing what’s convenient, easy or seems most beneficial for us. “That’s why Paul warns us to not grow weary, because often times it’s an intentional fight against our human nature and that can be exhausting,” Scully said. “If I’m going to consistently do what’s right, I must be intentional, but I can’t rely upon my intentions.”
For those seeking a map, Scully points to pastor and author Andy Stanley’s Principle of the Path: the direction you’re moving in determines your destination. “In other words, my direction, not my intention,” Scully said.
Unassailable as this principle is on the highway, it is not so clear in other parts of life. Scully used the example of New Year’s resolutions. “We have great intentions, but often lack the ability and fortitude to make the correct daily choices to get there,” he said.
- Intention—to become a better student. Reality—already behind on your reading, played Call-of-Duty all night instead of working on your paper, haven’t met with your professors.
- Intention—to be healthier. Reality—you still haven’t found the campus gym, get four hours of sleep at night and only balance your nutrition between sugar and carbs.
“We often have great intentions to do good. We desperately want to do right and be the hands and feet of Christ, but intentions will never trump direction,” Scully said. “Your decisions (the direction you’re headed) will ultimately determine your destination. All too often, we come up short, or we just become weary and continue heading the wrong direction.”
But as the Bible offers instruction, it also offers hope.
- In Romans 7: “On my own, I can’t do what’s right,” Scully summarized. “I need God’s grace, I need to absolutely depend on him, so that he can guide my choices, my decisions and ultimately lead me to do the good that he has for me to do.”
- In 2 Corinthians 9:8: “God is able to make all grace abound in you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”
- In Matthew 5:16: “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
To sum up, Scully quoted early 20th century evangelist Oswald Chambers: “Do good until it is an unconscious habit of life and you do not know you are doing it,” he said.