Benedict’s Rule of Life – Part 5


Chapter 5 of Benedict’s Rule speaks to the topic of “Obedience” – as a step toward humility and best expressed unhesitatingly. Not the most popular of themes for today. We may speak of the obedience of dogs while being trained by their owner, but among people this gets scant coverage. We live in a world where we’re encouraged to do our own thing and obey what our instincts call us to fulfill, not necessarily obey what others may request of us. This happens in politics, business, education, and even the church and the family.


Benedict is pretty straight forward about his convictions about obedience. And, they are based in several Scriptures, such as “No sooner did he hear than he obeyed me” (Psalm 17:45); “Whoever listens to you, listens to me” (Luke 10:16 ); and “I have come not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). Very specifically, his belief about the priority of obedience comes from the need to listen carefully to the voice and teachings of Christ. Listening is the core discipline that underlies the obedient response. Good listening to God evokes faithful living for God. This translates to the obedience of the voice of authority in disciplined attitudes and actions.


And, it is love that impels one to pursue everlasting life. That’s how Benedict promoted obedience and one’s eagerness to take the narrow road that leads to the abundant life.  Here he contrasts a life that “gives in to the whims and appetites” rather than walking according to the judgment of another’s decisions and directions. To choose to obey the leadership of another with a glad heart and without grudge or grumble is what pleases the Lord. To do so in any other way would be to live out of favor with God.  When “grumbling is in his heart” there will be no reward for service of any kind. Benedict promotes the priority of the heart in all matters great and small.


It’s interesting to observe that the following chapter in Benedict’s Rule, chapter 6, deals with “Restraint of Speech” and here he reminds his followers to consider the psalmist’s counsel “I have resolved to keep watch over my ways that I may never sin with my tongue. I have put a guard on my mouth. I was silent and was humbled, and I refrained even from good works” (Psalm 38: 2,3).  The strong message here: evil speech must be always be curbed and left unsaid silence is often more powerful than even the best of words. Humility and submission trumps any form of vulgarity and gossip, for the former promotes a life of obedience and the latter is all about an independent spirit.


Benedict’s Rule is all about a heart of loving obedience first and foremost to God and then faithfully lived out in community. I wonder what life and ministry would look like if we dealt more specifically with the subject of “obedience” especially in our homes and churches. Would we agree on what obedience means both theoretically and practically?


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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.