Is it clear? Is it authoritative?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Nov 21, 2016

Let’s imagine that I’m your boss, and I summon you to meet me at my office tomorrow. Since you haven’t been here, I send directions. You find them confusing, so you ask: “Should I turn right or left as I come off the highway?”

I reply: “My directions are clear.”

You (being a polite person), write back: “Yes, I follow the directions, except at that one point. Should I turn right or left?”

I don’t reply.

When you tell other people that you’re having trouble with the directions to my office, I complain that some people never stop asking questions, and wonder aloud whether you have psychological problems. Meanwhile my receptionst sends out a memo scolding you for questioning my authority, since it should be quite obvious that I know where my office is.

Two questions:

1) Do you now know whether to turn right or left as you come off the highway?

2) How do you feel about working for me?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: claude-ccc2991 - Nov. 24, 2016 4:56 PM ET USA

    Let me see if I can help. Although "left" and "right" are based on Scripture and magisterial teachings, it is a sign of rigidity that you insist on them. Instead, you need to go through a process of accompaniment, discernment and integration to come to the understanding that the best you have to offer God in the moment is to get to where you want to go any damn way you please. Anything else is legalism.

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Nov. 22, 2016 8:16 PM ET USA

    That made my day!

  • Posted by: grateful1 - Nov. 22, 2016 8:11 PM ET USA

    Superb. Just superb.

  • Posted by: feedback - Nov. 22, 2016 12:25 AM ET USA

    1) I checked with coworkers, hoping they would have had accurate directions from you. And, what a relief, they had precise directions! Some said with great confidence: Go to the right, while others said with equally firm confidence: No, no, go to the left. 2) I have no other choice but to work for you, however I pray for you even more.

  • Posted by: shrink - Nov. 21, 2016 5:32 PM ET USA

    How do I feel working for you? Well, I say that I feel fine, when I have two personalities, one for the right, the other for the left. But for those who have a simple personality, well, that is a psychological problem, isn't it.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Nov. 21, 2016 4:25 PM ET USA

    Brilliant satire!

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Nov. 21, 2016 3:46 PM ET USA

    You should have been a carpenter, Phil. Once again, you have hit the nail squarely on the head.

  • Posted by: bertha - Nov. 21, 2016 3:19 PM ET USA

    Bravo, Phil! To respond directly, I still do not know whether to turn right or left and I surely not want to work for you. Your assumptions aside, my desire to serve and do an excellent job are confounded by your own lack of leadership skills.