Week 3 – leadership & obedience!

Two things are ‘sitting’ with me from the past week of readings:

1. The description of leadership (from Sunday’s reading, on p. 50):

“Benedict’s leaders are to birth souls of steel and light; they are to lead the group but not drive it; they are to live the life they lead; they are to love indiscriminately; they are to favor the good, not to favor the favorites; they are to call the community to the height and depth and breadth of the spiritual life; they are to remember and rejoice in their own weaknesses in order to deal tenderly with the weakness of others; they are to attend more to the spiritual than to the physical aspects of community life; and, finally, they are to save their own souls in the process, to be human beings themselves, to grow in life themselves.”

I like this – I think it is what I aspire to (not always succeeding!) – but I wonder, how is this different from the call to the rest of the community? St. Bede’s is particuluarly unique, I think, in that most of the members of the community are leaders in other communities, or developing into that. So I think there is a sense in which this rings particularly true for all members of our faith community. But it may also be something for all people of faith to aspire to. What do you think?

2. Late last week, we had readings on obedience (Sept. 11 among others). Those of you who know me are well aware that obedience is a struggle for me! The vow to obey my bishop was the most difficult one from my ordination, though I take it as a very serious commitment. But I wonder if my reluctance to agree that obedience is necessary or good is connected to my thought that all of us are called to be the kind of ‘leaders’ described above. Because then, surely, we are all called to discern and consult with one another. (Hmmm… my Quaker roots are showing, methinks!) Yet, it is a pragmatic reality that sometimes someone needs to take charge!! Do you struggle with obedience? Who might you be willing to obey, and why? How is it different to ‘obey’ rather than ‘taking direction’?



2 comments on “Week 3 – leadership & obedience!

  1. Alan Anthony says:

    2. The difference between obeying and taking direction is a matter of choice. If you are taking direction from someone, you can pick and choose what advice to follow … or not. In order to be obedient, however, choice is removed from the equation. You must do what you are told, regardless of whether or not you agree with it. Obedience to God shouldn’t be an issue, assuming you believe that God is perfect and always right. Complete obedience to any human being – even a bishop or the Pope – can be problematic and sometimes outright dangerous (see Hitler, Nazi Germany) because they might be wrong.

    To inject a bit of pop culture in the discussion, my favourite movie of all time (A Few Good Men) deals with the issue of being obedient vs. doing what is right when those concepts are in opposition to one another. As you might expect, it involves the military where obedience is of utmost importance. If you haven’t seen it (and the younger members of the chapel community may not have) then you should.

  2. […] last week about the danger of being obedient to another human being ( you can read his comment here) -and I am inclined to agree. But when the reflection broadens it to other members of the […]

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