Journals and Letters week 36: Advice to those in charge
(Today we are discussing “Journals and Letters” pages 323 to 331. Join us in reading a portion of Saint Mother Theodore’s writings every week in the coming year.)
Many of the letters in this brief section carried familiar themes addressed to familiar persons. All continued to show the wisdom and sound judgment of Mother Theodore, whether she was talking about the loss or near loss of sisters, deciding to accept on trial new subjects as proposed by the bishop or expressing her usual gratitude to those assisting the Indiana mission. Her judge of character and openness to the opinions of others is also a common thread.
The letter that attracted my attention, however, was the very brief gem “To Some Superior,” on page 326, which could just as easily been addressed “To Some Parent,” or “To Some Boss.” And again, it reveals Mother Theodore’s style of leadership.
The first line is a “zinger” in and of itself. “Do not require from everybody the same virtue and qualities.” When I taught I sometimes fell into that trap, treating students as if all were the same. Often I did not make allowances for how some people have to struggle to attain what comes so easily to others.
The next two sentences focus on the leader. Mother Theodore invites them to consider, “might you be the cause of another’s fault? Are you wanting in foresight or wisdom, gentleness or charity?” And so often, isn’t it true, that we ourselves can be our own worst enemy? I know that it is good to pause, to look inward, to reflect. That very act can sometimes save one from rushing to judgment.
Correcting with sweetness
She then proceeds to tell the superior how to reprove someone … with sweetness, not making a big deal out of the offense. “Do it privately and with affection.” Another powerful sentence to ponder.
And finally, almost as an afterthought, Mother Theodore directs, “When the Sisters are sick take good care of them. … ” The Journals and Letters have given us many instances of her concern and care for the sick. It is a tradition that continues today in the community and extends to our benefactors who help support all the efforts made to provide excellent facilities and staff to care for our retired and ill sisters.
Is there advice in this short letter that has helped you when in a position of leadership?
What advice is most challenging to you?
Next week > page 331 to page 338 mid-page
View the complete reading series.
Reflecting on the leadership roles I had in two distinct careers, I, recognize that I, too, fell into the trap that Mother Theodore addresses. Now that I am retired, my “career” is volunteer and I acknowledge that I can focus on expecting other volunteers to have exactly “the same virtue and qualities” that I judge to be necessary in the role. And, in which I foolishly believe I excel. Heeding Mother’s words to engage in self-examination would lead me to be a more understanding colleague of fellow volunteers.
Thanks, Linda. It is indeed interesting to realize the timeliness of MTG’s words!