8 November, Monday — Obedience

Monday of Week 32 in Ordinary Time

Wis 1:1-7
Lk 17:1-6

“…it would obey you.”

How many of us in leadership positions actually have the authority to command others to do our bidding? These days, being a leader has changed from the time when you could issue a directive and it would be followed to the ‘t’. Now, we have to be inclusive and make sure we consult stakeholders, seek alignment and then move with care and consideration so as to ensure the full compliance of those around us.

At times, in giving in to the wishes or desires of others, we may even end up going down a path that we don’t agree with fundamentally. That is a dilemma that I have been encountering of late. At work, it is easier to cope because my rationale is that I am paid to do a job and to follow through on directions set by our Board and by senior management. It is a mindset that has kept me in the same job for the past 11 (coming to 12) years. However, in other circumstances, it becomes a bit of a ‘slog’ and can feel like a chore. It’s either like wading through sludge — where it takes too many meetings to move forward; or two steps forward, three (or more) steps back.

Someone recently shared with me his thoughts on how he has observed my journey over the past few weeks, and reckons that I thrive more in an environment where I answer to no one — except to God, of course. That I am best left to my own devices to do what I feel is right and what the Lord wants of me in __________. I chuckled inwardly because it was exactly the same conversation I had with my spiritual director at a recent session — that I feel ‘free’ when I don’t have to be accountable to someone (or some others), especially in the area of ministry.

It took me by surprise because I have been known to be very ‘compliant’ and prefer to avoid confrontation. But perhaps in not articulating my feelings openly, they remain festering in me until, inevitably, I reach a point where I have to say, “Enough of this. I no longer wish to be part of this endeavour.” I do admit, that thought has been swirling in my head for the past few weeks — both in my situations at work and in another ministry. Which is why I am cherishing my time at this silent retreat now (this reflection was written last week).

Brothers and sisters, don’t get me wrong. I want to be obedient. I am generally someone who respects authority and will fight hard to achieve whatever it is I am asked to do/handle/plan/create. However, I must BELIEVE in the mission and in the people who are, supposedly, leading at the front. We all have been through this before — working under/with/for leaders who have their shortcomings or perhaps are not as qualified. And it takes a lot for them to win us over. For me, it is never about ability. I will follow a leader who has a heart for the people he/she commands. No point being the smartest in the room when you are __________ (insert your own adjective).

Ultimately, the ONLY leader I will never question is God. So while I re-train my focus back on Him and try to block out all the unnecessary chatter and noise arising from the dynamics around me of late, I encourage all of us to listen out for what it is that our leaders are asking of us in our daily lives. And then ask the question — is this what God wants of me? It may take a while to arrive at any answer. But it will require you to go deep within your self and to weed out all that is not of God.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Abba Father, you are the Alpha and Omega, the ultimate Creator. You command all living things and you give life to all in nature and beyond. We pray that you continue to lead, guide and light our paths as we learn each day to focus only on You.

Thanksgiving: We are thankful, heavenly Father, for the many blessings and graces that you provide each and every day.

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