So many of the saints of the Church have given amazing examples of lives filled with TRUST in God’s word and providential care; and a life of HUMILITY, living in obedience and submission to God’s Holy Will. Though difficult at times, this type of living leads one on a journey filled with God’s graces. Two Holy women of the Church who inspire me each day to live with trust and humility are Blessed Mother Teresa and Saint Faustina. These women, through their work, grew in both trust and humility. Another great example in more recent times is our Papa - Pope Benedict XVI. Trust and humility – what is the message for us this Lent? And how can we apply this to our work outside of the home, as women who are called to “aid humanity in not falling?”
Blessed Mother Teresa – Wow! What a Working Catholic Mom! Yes, you heard me – MOM. Her spiritual motherhood to her Sisters, as well as her little children of Calcutta, make Blessed Mother Teresa to me, a working Catholic mom. She showed us how to work! Everything she did in her work was a gift back to God. Though many of us proclaim horrible work conditions (long hours, no promotions/raises in pay, more work expected), very few of us have worked in the conditions Blessed Mother Teresa worked in Calcutta and around the world. Additionally, though many of us experience the desert every once and while in our relationship with God, Blessed Mother Teresa experienced this without reprieve for more than 20 years, as she worked what she believed to be God’s call in her life…the call to bring souls to Jesus in the poorest areas of India.
Her work was a labor of love…Her trust and humility in God’s plan was lived to almost perfect levels. She listened to her superiors, spiritual advisors, and Rome. She never made big moves on behalf of her Order until she was guided by her leaders. She considered this type of obedience to be obedience to God Himself!
What would this mean in my daily work life? If I were answering God’s Holy Will in my work life, what behaviors and demeanor would I demonstrate? Where would my prayer life be? How would I continuously put aside my own will to follow HIS Will?
Perhaps you know what I am going to say already: I STRUGGLE WITH THIS!
There, I said it AGAIN! L
I want to live up to the call of the Vatican fathers to “aid humanity in not falling,” and yet I believe I am nothing. AND, because I work outside of the home, I am often attacked by my own feelings of self-doubt, and sometimes by women on both sides of the coin: if you work, other people are raising your kids; if you work, your primary role is to work! What is a woman of faith to do?
My suggestion? Don’t listen to your voices of self-doubt, nor of others who would have you feel guilty about the choices you are making. The big question you need to answer for yourself, in my humble opinion is: Are you answering God’s Holy Will about your work life?
OK…here is a follow up question to that: Are you trusting God in your work? Are you developing the virtue of humility in that work? How?
This is where I find myself right now as a woman of faith. I am working on a few virtues in my life right now, and humility is on the top of the list. It might help to first define “humility.” Humility, according to dictionary.com is: the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance, rank, etc. An alternate definition is “submissiveness.”
Some of you may already be saying, “NO WAY! I’M NOT SUBMITTING!” HA! I was right there with you several years ago – until I started to understand what submitting meant to me, and to the work I do as a college administrator.
I was taught both trust and humility working for an array of supervisors over the years. In the work world, there is a certain level of trust you must have in those who are in authority over you. I was reminded by one supervisor on more than one occasion, “Do you trust me to take care of this department’s best interests? Do you trust me to work for the best interests of the university?”
I had to submit my own desires and thoughts about some projects, after I had expressed them clearly to the team or to my supervisor, as a way to support a bigger vision. I learned this from my own submission to God’s Holy Will in my life. I learned to trust my supervisor, and my teams of colleagues. My trust was warranted, as we were working toward a common goal.
What does this submission look like? It’s not a WEAK bowing down to something you don’t believe in. It is the act that follows trusting another. It is me putting away my own needs, for the needs of another, which I believe God calls us to do on a daily basis…no matter our station in life. As we are able to work at this level of trust and humility at work, our submission is to God’s Will itself!
When I am in line with God’s Will, in all areas of my life, I am more productive, effective, and service-oriented. The catechetical understanding of “to know, love and serve God” is on the right path.
This is the kind of life I want to live, in an integrated way (as whole at work, home, etc.). In my opinion, this obedience bears fruit. In my work life, it bears the fruit of trust from supervisors and team members; teamwork attitude – I don’t have to have all the answers; and servant-leadership mentality – where my goal is to serve the team and our constituents, not myself.
I like this kind of work.
How do you develop trust and humility at work? Is it something you are thinking of this Lent? How can practicing these virtues at work bring you closer to Jesus on your Lenten journey?
Prayers and peace to you and yours!
Copyright 2013 Mary Wallace
About the Author
Mary Wallace, PhD, is a devout Catholic wife, mother of 4 daughters, and college administrator. She is co-host of a Catholic radio show: Faith and Good Counsel, on Baton Rouge Catholic Community Radio. Mary is also a contributing writer at the Integrated Catholic Life. Follow Mary on Facebook.