Monday, April 07, 2008

Merton on the Mercy of God

I am persuaded that authentic leadership starts with the simple understanding that all authority in leadership is delegated authority. All power ultimately belongs to God (Psalm 115:1). When we lead, we should be careful to tread lightly, remembering that we are working in God's domain. Thomas Merton helps us in this regard by reminding us of the ever-present refrain of God's mercy in the Holy Scriptures:

The parable of the Good Samaritan is a revelation of God in a word that has great importance through all the Scriptures from beginning to the end. It is a revelation of what the prophet Hosea says, speaking for the invisible God, "I will have mercy and not sacrifices." What is this mercy which we find spoken everywhere in the Scriptures, and especially in the Psalms? The Vulgate rings with misericordia as though with a deep church bell. Mercy is the "burden" or the "bourdon," it is the brass bell and under-song of the whole Bible. But the Hebrew word-chesed-which we render as mercy, misericordia, says more still than mercy.

Chesed (mercy) is also fidelity, it is also strength. It is the faithful, the indefectible mercy of God. It is ultimate and unfailing because it is the power that binds one person to another, in a covenant of wills. It is the power that binds us to God because He has promised us mercy and will never fail in His promise. For He cannot fail. It is the power and the mercy which are most characteristic of Him, which come nearer to the mystery into which we enter when all concepts darken and evade us.

Am I modelling God's mercy in the way that I lead today?

Thomas Merton. Seasons of Celebration. (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1950): 175.