About this blogger:
Ronda Chervin received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Fordham University and an MA in Religious Studies from Notre Dame Apostolic Institute. A widow, mother, and grandmother, she currently teaches philosophy at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut. Write to her at chervinronda@gmail.com.
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“Today the Church has made a big mistake, turning the clock back 500 years with guitars and popular songs. I don't like it at all. Gregorian Chant is a vital and important tradition of the Church and to waste this—by having guys mix religious words with profane, Western songs—is hugely grave, hugely grave.”
— Maestro Ennio Morricone (10 Sept 2009)

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Day 85 The Challenge of Observing Cooperative vs. Bossy Behavior
published 3 April 2012 by Dr. Ronda Chervin

What you will read now is part of a series of 100 spiritual challenges. Each blog can be viewed separately, but for maximum benefit a reader needs to start with the introductory blog of November 18, 2011, and then continue step by step. Day One begins on Sunday, November 20, 2011.    [ Click here for 100 STEPS ]

Theme 13: The Challenge of being Cooperative vs. Bossy

“ A dispute arose between them about which should be reckoned the greatest, but he said to them, “Among pagans it is the kings who lord it over them, and those who have authority over them are given the title Benefactor. This must not happen with you. No; the greatest among you must behave as if he were the youngest, the leader as if he were the one who serves…here I am among you as one who serves!” (Luke 22:25)


There are situations where one person is clearly in charge and others have to obey. A policeman is in charge. A general is in charge of the troops. The manager of a company is in charge. The pastor of a Church is in charge. Parents are in charge of their children up until a certain age. Teachers are in charge of the classroom. Such people are not being bossy when they exercise their legitimate authority. It is loving in itself to carry the burden of such authority. Of course, it is all the more loving to exercise such authority with respect for the dignity of those who have to obey.

A bossy person is one who takes charge in situations where he or she is not in authority, sometimes over-riding the role of another who is in charge. One who is a leader in a particular situation might try to be in charge in others circumstances where this is not appropriate and this can seem like arrogance. For example, used to being a teacher, I may think that I should give little lectures in social situations, and even worse, that others should accept my teachings as if they were my students!

Come to think of it, dominating conversations is a form of bossiness. Why should I strut my stuff, instead of drawing out others with loving questions? Or, how about learning why people think differently vs. assuming I know exactly why they are so wrong-headed? Underlying bossiness could be lack of trust in providence so that we think that unless we grab the reins the horse will go over the cliff. Bossiness could also come from thinking we are superior to others. I recall a funny old song of the sixties song that ran, “I can do anything better than you can, I can do anything better than you.” Usually acting superior in one area is a compensation for feeling inferior in other areas. Bossiness certainly involves a power-grab. Once I was talking about problems in the family and a spiritual guide said humorously, “Well, Ronda, generally the grandmother isn’t a very powerful figure, is she?” Gulp!

I wonder: If God is my boss, I don’t have to be boss at the wrong time and place, do I?

By contrast, the loving spirit of cooperation involves the humility to see what is best in each situation vs. using it as an opportunity to take charge regardless of whether one has the gifts or expertise. For example, it is fine if a student politely raises an objection to a teacher’s concept. But it is arrogant if the student adopts a tone that suggests that the teacher is an idiot and the student knows much more.

In a loving family, there is much mutual consultation about weighty decisions. No one should do anything immoral at the bidding of another person, even a parent. But where it is a matter of prudential judgments, there needs to be a tie-breaker, the father, to avoid division and finally chaos or the break-up of the family. The wife should not adopt the role of boss over the husband, constantly nay-saying his decisions, nagging him, and belittling his authority. In church work, it is important that the team including deacons, sisters, members of the parish council, leaders of different ministries, work cooperatively under the direction of the pastor. Unless the matter involves heresy, dissent, or immoral actions, the team should not be lining up against the pastor to boss him around.

“You know that the so-called rulers of the heathen lord it over them, and their great men have absolute power. But it must not be so among you. No, whoever among you wants to be great must become the slave of all men! For the Son of Man himself has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life to set many others free.” (Mark 10: 42-45)

Dr. Ronda’s examples: I hate shopping but my daughter wanted me to go with her to get Valentine’s Day decorations, so I agreed and it was fun. She appreciated that I went with her instead of giving a big lecture on luxurious spending on holidays. We arranged for a lunch visit of a new friend. My daughter mentioned that someone else usually visits on that day. I said that this would not be good because I wanted the lunch to be for sharing deeper things, not a social lunch. She said probably the other friend wouldn’t come anyhow since she has cancelled many times. Instead of arguing endlessly about this, I let it go and accepted that maybe the second friend would come and maybe not and just let the Holy Spirit sort out the conversation vs. my trying to be the boss of the plan. I had a terrible computer glitch. I got very bossy threatening to leave a project because no tech person would help me right away. A friend suggested that I just act vulnerable instead and that would bring out the cooperative tendencies of the tech people better than threats. It worked.

Your examples:

My Prayer: Oh, gentle Jesus, You who could have wiped out the whole world in an instant before the crucifixion, help me not to be so bossy in tiny and larger situations where I just get frightened if I don’t have the power to dominate others. Why not meekly express my needs instead?

Your prayer:

Read more blog entries by Dr. Ronda Chervin by visiting RondaView. Dr. Ronda Chervin has many free e-books and audios on her website, rondachervin.com. If you go to her website and read or listen and then want to correspond with her she will be available. Her schedule does not permit, however, responding to comments on the Blog, though she enjoys reading them. Dr. Ronda’s newest project is spiritualityrunningtogod.com.

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