Virtue of the Week: Obedience

ObedienceObedience in Life

There is the story of a child in a woodland camp whose father sent him with a letter to the village, pointing out a trail over which the lad had never gone before. “All right, father, but I don’t see how that path will ever reach the town,” said the boy. “Do you see the trail as far as the big tree down there?” answered the man. “Oh, yes, I see that far.” “Well, when you get there by the tree you’ll see the trail a little farther ahead, and so on until you get within sight of the houses of the village.” This is an example of the pilgrimage of faith we follow through life, it’s faith and obedience to that faith, not seeing the destination that keeps us moving.

The ship that will not obey the helm will have to obey the rocks.English proverb
In schools all over the world, little boys learn that their country is the greatest in the world, and the highest honor that could befall them would be to defend it heroically someday. The fact that empathy that has traditionally been conditioned out of boys facilitates their obedience to leaders who order them to kill strangers.Meriam Miedzian

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Forms of human obedience include:

  • obedience to laws;
  • obedience to social norms;
  • obedience to a monarch, government, organization, religion, or church;
  • obedience to God;
  • obedience to self-imposed constraints, such as a vow of chastity;
  • obedience of a spouse or child to a husband/wife or parent respectively;
  • obedience to management in the workplace

An Analogy of Obedience

Imagine, if you will, that you work for a company whose president found it necessary to travel out of the country and spend an extended period of time abroad. So he says to you and the other trusted employees, “Look, I’m going to leave. And while I’m gone, I want you to pay close attention to the business. You manage things while I’m away. I will write you regularly. When I do, I will instruct you in what you should do from now until I return from this trip.” Everyone agrees.

He leaves and stays gone for a couple of years. During that time he writes often, communicating his desires and concerns. Finally he returns. He walks up to the front door of the company and immediately discovers everything is in a mess–weeds flourishing in the flower beds, windows broken across the front of the building, the gal at the front desk dozing, loud music roaring from several offices, two or three people engaged in horseplay in the back room. Instead of making a profit, the business has suffered a great loss. Without hesitation he calls everyone together and with a frown asks, “What happened? Didn’t you get my letters?”

You say, “Oh, yeah, sure. We got all your letters. We’ve even bound them in a book. And some of us have memorized them. In fact, we have ‘letter study’ every Sunday. You know, those were really great letters.” I think the president would then ask, “But what did you do about my instructions?” And, no doubt the employees would respond, “Do? Well, nothing. But we read every one”

–Charles Swindoll