Finding Freedom in Obedience

What exactly is obedience? Does it mean submitting ourselves to the will of the world? Does it mean being a pushover? Should we give in to peer pressure? Father Bobby Blood joined guest host Patrick Conley on The Inner Life to discuss the true definition of obedience and how we can embrace it in our spiritual and personal lives.

“When we talk about obedience in layman’s terms, we’re talking about setting aside our will to follow the command or the ask of a legitimate superior,” said Fr. Blood. “But I think it’s important right at the beginning to make a distinction. Sometimes we think of obedience as only those big asks, those one-offs. ‘Someone asks me to do that, and was I obedient to that thing?’”

But obedience does not come down to a willingness to do somebody a favor. It’s more than a transaction of resources. Rather, we can look at obedience as this “principle of righteous conduct”, just like the other virtues. They are the gold standard for righteous living.

Virtues are not just for those committed to religious or holy orders because they’ve made vows to obedience and poverty. We all have somebody to answer to. When we are young, we answer to our parents, our teachers, and our professors. When we get a little older, we answer to our supervisors and bosses. If you enlist in the military, you answer to your superior officers. Even if you’re your own boss, you have some responsibility to your spouse. And in the end, no matter who or where we are, we all answer to God.

But as prevalent as our responsibilities are, they shouldn’t feel like they’re constricting our freedom or independence. If it feels that way, we’re viewing obedience as a transactional exchange. Obedience should feel freeing!

To do what one ought to do can often be paralyzing. We have to make decisions. We have to choose what’s best for us and our family. Embracing obedience means giving up that responsibility to a higher power. There’s something very freeing about letting it go and trusting that our obedience will carry the day. In the workplace, that might look like asking our superiors for advice on a project. In the military, that means following orders even when it’s difficult or dangerous. And in our marriage, that means asking God to help you and your wife make the best choices for your family.

“When [someone you trust] says, ‘Hey, I need you to take steps 1, 2, and 3. And this is how I’d like you to do it.’ That takes a little pressure off. You just say, ‘Okay, I’m just going to follow through on that, and I’m not going to ask a million other questions about all of the what-ifs. They’ve offered this, and now I’m going to follow through.’”

There is something beautiful about having the trust and loyalty in somebody to embrace blind obedience and do as you’re asked without question. Fr. Blood did recognize that everybody has their own wisdom and perspective based on their experience, and that can lead to productive conversations about the way you’re being asked to do something. But ultimately, we need to approach alternatives to our tasks with humility, or else we risk giving in to our ego, believing that we know what’s best.

Fr. Blood recalled being asked as a kid to take the trash out by his parents and responding, “Why?” To which his mother would respond, “Because I said so.” We have to distinguish between situations that require us to brainstorm and work as a team and situations where we are being asked to trust the process and follow through on our job.

“Do we need the why? That’s an important question. Has the Lord asked us to understand? Or has He asked us to be faithful?”

Tune in to The Inner Life weekdays at 11am CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.