Humility for Business Managers

Today we read the final section of RB 31, On the Cellarer or Business Manager of the Monastery. Once again Benedict stresses the importance of humility. I wonder how many corporate executives/business managers/Government ministers would agree. To be ‘dynamic’, cutting and thrusting, stirring up a Twitterstorm with wild and whirling words, never apologizing but only, if pressed, admitting one might have been quoted out of context — these seem to be much more likely. The net result is that taking responsibility is done reluctantly and only as a last resort. Is it any wonder, then, that trust becomes difficult? We look for integrity and see only varying degrees of self-interest and duplicity.

Such a jaundiced view is not fair to all those who dutifully go about their business, striving to uphold standards of honesty and honour that sometimes reach heroic levels. They incarnate what St Benedict has to say about the cellarer’s humility. They are kind, courteous, ready to serve. The more responsibility they are given, the more careful they are not to inflate or arrogate to themselves the powers they have been allotted, rightly seeing that they are given them for a time only and do not necessarily reflect any greater worth in themselves. St Benedict ends his chapter by expressing the wish that no-one should be troubled or vexed in the house of God. (RB 31.19) It is worth thinking about that. We are all called to administer something, even if it is only tiny and apparently of little consequence — our own room, maybe, or part of the household budget — but the aim we have in view is not mere economic efficiency. The stewardship we have been given has as its end the building up of peace, of community and of everything that is good and noble in the human spirit. That in itself is rather humbling, isn’t it?


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