Vocation and obedience


Another thread prompted me to post this one because I don't want to take over that one.

If someone's vocation is marriage/ family and a job in the secular world, where does obedience fit in? One must be obedient to Christ as we understand His teaching, clearly. But beyond that, are we to be obedient to our parish priest, or are we just to take what he says into consideration?

In the workplace, we should obey our direct supervisor, correct? Do we have to be obedient to someone who tells us to do something we know is stupid and in a business sense, wrong? If that person is not our direct supervisor? I am currently in a situation where I have no respect for the manner a certain person conducts herself (loses control and accuses others) nor do I agree in a business sense with what this person tells me to do. Yet they have more power than I do and, while not in my line of reporting, would hold higher sway in the bigger picture of the organization. I feel it is wrong to do something I know is business-wise stupid. Am I supposed to still do it since they are higher on the ladder? Or it that something that is just up to each individual?

Any help understanding obedience for a lay person would be appreciated!


This is just my opinion but it seems to me that it would be good to obey people in authority like parents, supervisors, etc, - not to mention the Pope, Bishops, and Priests!.. as long as we are not told to do something sinful, we would show humility by doing it. I think the only time this would be wrong is if - let’s say your boss asks you to do something sinful, then you should not do it.

God bless :slight_smile:


Thanks Monica for your thoughts.

I should also mention that this is a professional position where one is expected to make decisions, not working on a line or something similar where obedience would be obvious. I'm leaning toward, no, one does not have to obey.

I'm really interested in what others have to say about obedience for non-religious.



I refer you to Article 2242 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Basically, the short paragraph states, like mentioned earlier, we never have to obey disobedience to God; when to obey man(or woman, in your case, it seems, maybe several), means to disobey God, then we do not obey man. Yet, we still give to Cesar, what is Cesar's, meaning, we still contribute to the common good, respect the moral order, the fundamental rights and dignity of persons along with the Gospel Teachings as always.

This is what we all discern every day, yes, even the Holy Father, when dealing with his Vatican staff, from his personal secretary, the Secretary of State who usually draws up his itinerary, to his chauffeur of the Popemobile. As a Parish Priest I must discern if I should listen to a Diocesan Policy or how it is applied by a particular person or Superior as well. All is not necessarily simple, since we are living in a Cloister either. On the contrary, Religious have more Constitutions with their Rule to consider before saying Yes and No. More is given to them, more is expected proportionately. The difference is, they made they have made a life-long committment, as of perpetual vows to live in that same Community. To have to look at that same face I had a disagreement with, day after day, is very difficult, as in Marriage, or in a family. As a Layperson, the person can leave a position without the same implications exactly. You have more freedom in the world, but the price is more responsability and discipline to seek guidance. No bell tolls to tell you what to do, in that sense. For me neither, though I would like to unplug the phone sometimes...

At work, if we are asked to do something sinful, or course the answer is No. If it is a matter of common sense and work ethic, that is not a grave threat to the common good, moral order, salvation of souls, or Gospel values, then it is matter of possible fraternal correction due to ther irresponsability, refusal to assume the consequences of their actions. The way to apply it varies according to protocol. First, face to face, then with witnesses, meaning consulting others by right, as in their Superior or colleague as to how to work with them. Then, you consider your options and their risks, transfer of department, demotion, change employment etc. whatever that may entail. This is the cost of witnessing to Christ. We've all been there, those who are true disciples.

I had to make such decisions before being a Priest, as a Catechist in a Catholic High School and in other employments. I thought it would stop in the Church...gets worse! and more challenging(and fun after a while) and there is more at stake. Transfer of Diocese?of Parish?Be sent into exile?If need be, but never, never leave the Church because she is made of sinners, that is for sure. What you are describing is martyrdom-which means witness of course. Feel free to send me more specifics, if I can be of help.

Fr. Dominic


Hello again,

You can also look at spiritdaily.com today, it highlights as one of the subtitles, AP reporter turns Catholic after covering sex abuse scandal. We see how God works through the difficult choices we have to make, from one angle or another.

Fr. Dominic


There is NO obligation of "obedience" at all in a secular vocation.

You owe loyalty to an employer, but not absolute obedience. if an employer orders you to do something that is morally wrong (but perfectly legal) you have no obligation to follow their orders. You may be fired if you do not, but you have absolutely NO moral obligation at all to follow their commands (whether moral ones or not).

In the situation that you describe, you should do what is right. Eventually, this person will be discovered acting in this unprofessional manner, and they will end up on the s"short end of the stick".

Since this person is NOT directly in "your chain of command", you certainly have no obligation to follow their example, or to do their bidding, unless directed to do so by your supervisors.

closed #7

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