Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Silence and Leadership

I am re-reading portions of the Philokalia (the Sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers) as part of my morning devotions and am struck once again by the centrality that these sayings give to ethical conduct in leadership. The connection between the "control of the tongue" and ethical conduct is often made by these early Christian hermits. Two stories from this time will suffice to illustrate this point:

Abba Isidore of Pelusia said: Living without speaking is better than speaking without living. For a person who lives rightly helps us by silence, while one who talks too much merely annoys us. If, however, words and life go hand in hand, it is the perfection of all philosophy.

Abba Poemen said: There is one sort of person who seems to be silent, but inwardly criticizes other people. Such a person is really talking all the time. Another may talk from morning to night, but says only what is meaningful, and so keeps silence.

May we learn the wisdom of silence.