Obedience September 23
And though both (discipline and fear) are necessary, he should strive to be loved by you rather than feared, ever mindful that he must give an account of you to God (Rule of St. Augustine, 46).
To be loved or to be feared as a superior is all about the kind of “distance” there should be between him and the members of the community. Certainly the idea of “distance” doesn’t refer to physical distance here. Rather, it has a psychological meaning. To do his task well, the superior needs to be able to think objectively. As superior, he should maintain a relationship with the confreres that leaves him free from partiality and prejudice. That is the “distance” in question. The superior is close to the confreres in the sense of knowing them of being a true friend to all of them. From time to time that can demand of him courage to confront them. If his emotional attachments to the confreres do not allow him to see clearly enough to do this, he can be said to lack “distance.” His effectiveness in their regard will be limited and his responsibility before God compromised. “Distance” does not imply a lack of love. It does not imply a coldness that makes him unacceptable and frightening. Like Christ, he is always understanding and, when necessary, capable of firmness without losing his peace of heart.
When one is too familiar, one ends up being despised. (Mashona)
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