The Next Right Thing

One question I hate answering: what are you going to do today?

I hate it for two reasons.

First, it’s never a quick answer. If I were honest, I would say, “I am going to run around like a chicken with its head cut off looking like I am busy and hectic and active until I absolutely collapse realizing that nothing has been accomplished.”

But I don’t like that much honesty. So I will use words like, “recruit students,” and “provide transportation to children’s activities,” and “ponder truisms to disseminate to the masses (write a blog post),” and “pray.”

(Okay, let’s be really honest—that last one is less true on more days than I care to admit.)

I say all the right things. I will tell you whatever the current buzzwords are for how important I am to everyone around me. I will exhaust you just by detailing my to do list.

So my schedule is full. That much is true. I am busy on most days. So when someone asks me what I am going to do today, I don’t like it because it is a reminder of just how busy I can be.

But the second reason I hate that question is because I have learned how to answer it.

And I hate the answer.

“What are you going to do today?”

“The next right thing.”

I hate—no. I LOATHE that answer. It’s true on many occasions. But I still hate it.

When I was early in recovery from my alcohol addiction, I had a sponsor named Bob. Bob used to asked me what I would be doing that day. And I would start in with headless chicken list, and he would stop me. Then he would ask me again. Thinking he just had a comprehension problem, I started giving him my list a little slower. Then he would stop me again. Then he would ask me again.

This would continue for several minutes. Until I realized what he was actually asking me: “What are you going to do next?” Or, “What is the next right thing?”

It took the better part of a month for the alcohol-induced fog to lift before I could answer that question correctly. What was I going to do? I was going to get in my car and drive to my office.

The answer was that simple. Now once I got to the office, I had something else to do. But it was just the next right thing: check the voicemail messages. Then open email. Then read and study.

And on my day went. One item at a time.

Now my sponosor Bob told me “the next right thing” so many times I was waiting for the next right thing to be to shove those words down his throat.

But I did the next best thing:

I started using those words with the people I sponsored.

Because I learned something real valuable: the busier I am, the less attention I am paying to my life. The less attention I am paying to my life, the more likely I am to give into temptation and pick up a drink. And when I pick up a drink, I don’t stop. So I miss out on my wife and children. I lose relationships with friends. My job gets done, but not to the level it can or should. I fill myself with so much alcohol that I have no room for God.

So I had better pay attention to the next right thing.

Is my schedule still full?

The stack of clothes on my couch waiting to be folded indicate that today has been a full day.

But if you ask me what I am doing today, my answer will be simple: the next right thing.

Now if you will excuse me, I have some clothes to fold.

2 thoughts on “The Next Right Thing

  1. The Next Right Thing | markgraham61

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