7/1/12 | 1198 views
Obedience in the Workplace
Why do employees obey their boss? Ordinarily for one of these three reasons:
1. Because the boss is a nice person
2. Because the boss is someone to be feared
3. Because we hope that our obedience will curry favor with the boss
Frankly, these aren't bad reasons for doing what we're told, especially if we want to keep our job and continue receiving a regular paycheck. But then we are faced with a more difficult question. Should Catholics obey their boss for these same reasons? The correct answer is no. Why not? Because all three stem from natural motivations rather than supernatural incentives, and we Catholics are called to strive toward what is virtuous.
Why is obedience so difficult at times?
1. Because we disagree with the perceived need
2. Because, even though we agree with the need, we believe we know a more efficient procedure to address that need
3. Because we're Americans
The counter-argument to the first two points above is that most employees are not privy to all the pieces of the puzzle. If we knew all the variables that the boss knows, then we would understand both the need and the rational for resolving that need in a particular way. Bosses who take the time to address both of these issues generally demonstrate better leadership skills, generate greater loyalty and end up with happier employees.
The third point above is cultural. Consciously or unconsciously, most Americans abhor submission. A large part of our identity as fighters for freedom and lovers of liberty manifests itself in resisting anyone who dares to tell us what we can or cannot do. We thrive on the principle that we are free to do whatever we want as long as what we're doing doesn't interfere with our neighbors' freedom to do whatever they want. And no one is going to tell us otherwise, except the boss!
So, as citizens of the United States, we detest submitting to someone else's will apart from the workplace where we obey out of affection, fear or to win favor. How, then, can Catholics turn such loathsome compliance into appealing enrichment? The solution is simple: by imitating the Holy Family.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph are exemplary models of the virtue of obedience. Jesus obeyed his mother and foster father for 30 years, with one minor glitch as a teenager when he became intellectually zealous about taking over his Father's business in the temple. As an adult he continued to obey his Heavenly Father, even when it meant suffering and dying on the cross. Mary obeyed God by accepting the angelic messenger's invitation to motherhood, even though she could not understand how a virgin can become pregnant and still remain a virgin. Joseph obeyed God and protected Mary from being shamed and the infant Jesus from being slain, which meant relocating to a different country. In short, they put their own wills aside and did God's will. And this decision to obey was what brought virtue, which is to say, strength and goodness, into their lives.
What benefits come with virtue?
By striving to become more virtuous, we increase our moral strength and social goodness. In other words, we become better human beings, better citizens, better employees and better Christians because we are following more closely in the footsteps of Christ and the saints.
For Holy Homework: During the month of July we can wear a lapel pin of the American flag or proudly display a model of the Stars and Stripes at our computer. Each morning, we can look at Old Glory and offer a simple prayer to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, in thanksgiving for our freedom and for strength to obey the boss.
Comments can be sent to: FatherBobPagliari@Yahoo.com
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