The Rotary Four-Way Test as a Guide to Daily Living

First, is it the Truth 

This is the first installment of a four-part series on Rotary's Four-Way Test as a path for living life and interacting with others. The inspiration for this unusual series came from a Bible study I was leading as a guest facilitator for a Saturday morning men's group. Their discussion centered on why it seems that modern-day people of faith do not seem to be as righteous and faithful as they profess to be. I explained that righteous literally means right-living, and properly defined it is both straightforward and easy to understand. "Righteous" may seem to be more theological than practical, but it isn't at all. Faith as a noun-lived out as a verb, equals the state of righteousness. At this point in the discussion I said, "Gentlemen, I have decided that the Rotary Four-Way Test is a quick and easy template for embracing and impacting the world in a positive way and, despite the fact I have years of theological training in me and teach theology for a living, this simplified four-liner helps me live a positive life."
Pins could have dropped in marvelous harmony at this point. Did the guest teaching pastor just say that the Rotary test was a substitute for Christian theology? No, he did not, although that's how rumors are started. Christianity and Judaism and Hinduism and Buddhism and... (fill in the blank here), all stress moral absolutes and daily ethical practices. They also teach sacrificial living and "others-first" lifestyles, so no, Rotary is not a faith-substitute, a Splenda for the soul, but Rotary is steeped in a service mentality and can provide a simplified way to approach daily life and interactions through our Four-Way Test. To test out my theory that the Four-Way Test is an excellent simplified way to have an amazingly positive impact upon the world that could rival that of many faith expressions we will look at each part of the test over the next month. Hopefully our test is more than a banner or words we recite at the end of our meetings.
First, is it the truth: As far as basic ethical living goes this may be the gold standard. One simply cannot go wrong with habitually telling the truth. To speak the truth is a core teaching of virtually every religion. Judeo-Christian writings stress that the "truth never fails," and the "truth will set you free." Each teaching strongly suggests telling the truth is an excellent strategy that will require little to no further attention. As Mark Twain wrote, "If you tell the truth you never have to remember anything." Some people prefer the more self-serving route of altering the truth to fit their own unique needs, as Jerome K. Jerome writes, "It is always the best policy to speak the truth, unless of course, you are an exceptionally good liar." A lie requires one to remember the lie told with exactitude, all the people it was told to and how many times the lie morphed in the telling. Even half-truths are dangerous as you may get stuck with the wrong half!

Rotarians are wise to see the first test as always telling the truth, being truthful, and acting in truthful ways. In each and every situation if we pull up and ask ourselves, "Is my response, my action, my next move the truth," we will be exemplifying right living. Rotary is a civic, secular organization but this doesn't mean it can't have the same type of positive impact faith groups can have. It can be the same while being different can't it?

When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have won
Michael McCullar