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Fireside chat, series one, Our Wesleyan Way: Three Simple Rules, Do No Harm

By: Rev. Dan Bader, Southeast District Superintendent, and Rev. Sharla McKaskell, Knollwood Heights UMC

The founder of our denomination, John Wesley wrote about three simple rules that help people apply their faith to everyday life, and not only live in a way that honors God, but encourages continual growth and development of our faith. Access a schedule and past episodes.

The first simple rule, “Do No Harm,” we are seeking direction in our life, we often think about what we should do. It is interesting that John Wesley began the Simple Rules instead with what we refrain from doing. Our first call is to avoid doing harm to others.

Scripture references:
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil but take thought of what is noble in the sight of all.” If all of us can keep that thought in our minds at alt times, we might be better at tempering our desire to ‘get even’ or strike back. This a lot harder to do than it ought to be. So how do we do that?” Romans 12: 17, CEB

Key questions:

  • What comes to mind when you think about the first of the Three Simple Rules, Do No Harm?
  • Bishop Rueben Job said this in his writing, “to do no harm means that I will be on guard so that all of my actions and even my silence will not add injury to another of God’s children or to any part of God’s creation.” How do we go about doing that?
  • Three words, do no harm, that are not so simple. It is also not about others but about each of us, taking this seriously—and asking with the questions about our words and actions, what impact might this have on our lives and the lives of others?
  • How would our faith change, or how would our faith journey change if we really focused on doing no harm?

Resources for Three Simple Rules:
Book of Discipline: The Nature, Design, and General Rules of Our United Societies: Since 1808, the three rules have been printed in The Book of Discipline as part of our doctrinal standards and general rules.

Wesleys Take the Web: Three General Rules: In this animated short, John and Charles Wesley tell us that holy living can be as simple as A-B-C, or 1-2-3. the brothers who founded Methodism, John and Charles Wesley lay out three simple rules for holy living according to John Wesley.

Three Simple Rules, by Rueben Job. Rueben Job offers an interpretation of John Wesley's General Rules for today's readers. For individual reading or group study, this insightful work calls us to mutual respect, unity, and a deeper daily relationship with God.

Resources for Doing No Harm:

The People of God Who Do No Harm: Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, shares sermon notes, worship resources, small group ideas, youth, and children’s ministry activities on the first of the three simple rules.

Three Simple Rules—Do No Harm : A conversation with Bishop Rueben P. Job. In this video Rueben Job shares how, we live out doing no harm. “We live in a world where conflict and division are just everywhere. We are afraid to expose ourselves and in anyway make ourselves more vulnerable. We think if we adopt this principal we will be seen as being weak,” shares Bishop Job.

Leading by Not Doing: A Reflection on Wesley's Instruction to “Do No Harm”. What does it mean for leaders in the congregation to "do no harm"? What are the "evil" actions "most generally practiced"? Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church focuses on five important ways to "do no harm": (1) refuse to gossip, (2) avoid unfair criticism, (3) rely on fact rather than rumor, (4) be respectful, (5) deal with disagreement openly and honestly.

Download a discussion or small group guide for this session.


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