How do you submit to superiors who are less intelligent and less spiritual than you are?
For Merton was wiser, more perceptive, more innovative, more creative, more daring and more spiritual than those who were in authority over him. Merton was one of the most substantial, profound writers on spirituality in the past century.
And he differed from his superiors on many issues. He caused problems for them. He was in a monastic order where he had vows of obedience. He was in a religious system that required commitment to its theological tenets (which were often hindrances). So he was silenced and forbidden to publish certain articles on some issues.
I have heard, so many times, observations from people, that lead me to believe they are in a similar work experience. They feel limited, confined, misunderstood, restricted, held back... There are so many "bad bosses" that can make life hard for those who work "under them." One of the main reasons people leaves places of employment is due to "bad bosses."
Here are a few thoughts...
ONE: Be who you are. If your supervisor, boss, etc. is threatened by you, you can't reduce who you are to accommodate their dysfunction. That is the pathway to slow death.
TWO: Be harmless as a dove and wise as a serpent. This is a strategy for enduring in a hard situation.
THREE: Guard your ego and humble your self (one that Merton struggled with... but he continued to struggle rather than give up on it). See this as the situation and time for God to do a deeper work in your life.
FOUR: Submit when you need to. Choose your battles. Not every position is worth dying for. Give and take (and sometimes you have to do a lot more of the giving than the taking).
FIVE: If it becomes unbearable, you can always leave.
Through his experiences, Merton learned the value of submission. He learned that all those who would be leaders must learn how to be followers. He learned the value of waiting and trusting.
May we have the same experiences and the same growth.
Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International