Do for One What You Wish You Could Do for Everyone

This past Sunday we talked about the values of Proclamation and Demonstration — the idea that Jesus talked about the good news of his Kingdom and also did actions that proved his love.

I joyfully borrowed from Andy Stanley’s principle, “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.” It’s a helpful principle, especially in light of how many overwhelming needs there are in our cities and communities.

I’d encourage you to watch a recent message that Stanley gave on this entitled, “One, Not Everyone.” In particular, don’t miss his personal story of how he has seen this principle work out in a very powerful way (starts around the 20:00 mark).

Click here to watch the message.

For more on how this principle impacts leadership, check out his recent podcast on the same topic. (If you are a leader in any capacity, you should subscribe to Stanley’s Leadership Podcast).

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  1. #1 by Travis on March 10, 2011 - 10:16 am

    For some reason Stanley’s principle you mention reminded me of the categorical imperative in Immanuel Kant’s philosophy, which in its most famous formulation stated the ‘maxim’ implied by a proposed action for it to be ‘moral’ must be that one can will it to become a universal law of nature. In other words, if you would act morally, only perform an action you would wish would also be a binding universal law of human behavior. This may not be related to his message at all, which I haven’t listened to.

    But I’m curious why Stanley’s ‘one, not everyone’ would be a revolutionary thought. Between Jesus’ teaching of the ‘Golden Rule’ (Matt. 7:12)–a positive formulation of an older ethic previously given only in the negative phrasing of ‘you not do to others what you would not wish them to do to you’ (e.g., as in the sayings of Confucius or Hillel)–and his encouragement for acts of ‘mercy’: ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’ (Matt. 25:40), I’d think Stanley’s point (if not redundant) superseded. (But maybe he uses these passages in his message?) I guess what I mean is why not highlight Jesus’ ethic for our actions toward others directly instead of however it may be packaged in Stanley’s message and principle.

  2. #2 by Luke Simmons on March 10, 2011 - 2:28 pm

    Travis, great to hear from you! Greetings across the pond. Not sure I totally tracked everything you wrote, and I’m not sure that Stanley’s idea is that revolutionary. I think it’s just helpful in a day when the number of needs far exceeds our ability to meet them all. We often need to hear that just because we can’t meet all the needs doesn’t mean we shouldn’t meet the ones we can. It’s nothing new and not really an attempt to be so. Just another way of saying love your neighbor as yourself.

  3. #3 by Travis on March 12, 2011 - 2:25 pm


    Not sure I understood everything I wrote either. Maybe I shouldn’t make comments while in the middle of a long day of reading! I think Kant came up in my mind because of the comparison of one to everyone, but that wasn’t the point Stanley was making I understand.

    But love your neighbor as yourself sounds good.

  4. #4 by Benjer McVeigh on October 20, 2011 - 12:48 pm

    Love Stanley’s quote, especially as it applies to leadership. Thanks for pointing us to it!

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