The Catholic Defender: The Importance for Catholic Leadership from leaders
After serving in the United States Army for over 26 years, the emphasis on leadership becomes an important standard that I believe to be essential in keeping Catholics, Catholic. The rank and file have had very little leadership so that many drift away for what ever attracts their attention.
On March 30th, 2017, on our Deepertruth Radio show, our host for the "Be Strong, Be Courageous, Be A Man" series, Mark Kiser asked me what I thought was important for Catholic leaders to be successful.
I responded with the Army "Eleven Principles of Leadership" which are required for junior leaders to learn. I believe that these principles come from our Christian heritage but without our foundations and with the secularization of our institutions, we sometimes miss the boat in our understanding and application.
I believe that any good leader, religious, political, military, family, whatever setting, these are some good common sense principles to help people in their leadership potential. If we apply these principles then hopefully, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can make a difference.
Here are the Eleven Principles of Leadership with my reflection:
1. Know yourself and seek self-improvement.
1 Peter 4:10-11 states, "As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."
I have been asked the question that if you don't love yourself, how can you love others? This is the basic point St. Paul makes that Husbands love their wife as they represent Christ and the Church. (Ephesians 5:25) It also follows closely the golden rule, "So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets." (Matthew 7:12)
With this in mind, we should always take self inventory looking to improve our potential, knowing and learning our Faith.
2. Be technically and tactically proficient.
Hosea 4:6 states, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children."
There are thousands of rabbit trails people choose to take that blinds them from the Truth that Jesus is. Like the Pharisees who retorted to Jesus that they see, Jesus responds back to them that their sins remain because they are responsible. (John 8:40) Matthew 25:14-30 indicates that good policy and ingenuity in following the Lord will gain you eternal life, but those who are lazy and waste their opportunities will not make it.
With this in mind, we should always be willing to grow and mature in our faith knowing that people will watch to see what we do.
3. Develop a sense of responsibility among your subordinates.
1 Peter 5:1-3 states, "So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed. Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock."
As leaders, this is a most important text of scripture! We are to take responsibility for those in our charge. We are to be motivated for love of God seeking to do His will willingly. We are to be eager to do God's will without price, not lording it over others, but being a good example to those who seek the Lord in truth.
With this in mind, we should set the example by the way we live our lives honestly and with humility.
4. Make sound and timely decisions.
Proverbs 2:6-8 states, "For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and preserving the way of his saints."
As leaders, we must be willing to lead even at times when it is difficult. Sometimes just being there for others when there bear the pain of loss in their life, sometimes sharing our heart is what is called for. Simply knowing that people look to your strength that sometimes help them find courage. To be that complete leader, there sometimes must show compassion.
With this in mind, we should always seek the Lord's wisdom and use what He gives to walk with integrity. That is sometimes easier said than done, but we strive to do His will in all things.
5. Set an example.
Hebrews 13:7 states, "Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith."
We should always pray for our leaders, the Pope, the Bishops in union with him, and all our priests. That is so important because they are under attack coming from the evil one. We are all under attack so we need to put on the whole Armour of God. (Ephesians 6:10-20) We are to follow the example of the Apostles and the greatest of Saints did that. Every Doctor of the Church held a strong Marian devotion entrusting Our Lady to Our Lord.
With this in mind, let us follow the example of the Apostles living the Gospel life publicly by the things we say and do.
6. Know your people and look out for their welfare.
1 Timothy 4:16 states, "Take heed to yourself and to your teaching; hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers."
People will come at you from every direction you can imagine, sometimes to challenge you, sometimes to heckle you, but sometimes, with true intention. We should take each and every opportunity to proclaim the truth, sometimes using tack. 1 Peter 3:15-16 states, "but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame."
With this in mind, we should seek wisdom when dealing with family, friends, co-workers, and associates. The people we meet.
7. Keep your people informed.
Proverbs 27:23-24 states, "Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds; for riches do not last for ever; and does a crown endure to all generations?"
It is clear that it is important for Catholic leaders, religious and laypersons, we should study and grow in our faith. Part of the problem we have is that many people are not properly informed. Maybe they are not getting it from the homily, maybe parents are not leading their children. As a CCD teacher, it is not uncommon for parents to drop off their children only to discover that this is about it. I wish I had a dime for all those I met who never went any farther than Confirmation if they even made this Sacrament.
With this in mind, we should instruct people with the means that we have, especially our children. Before you know it, they will soon be leaving and going to start their own life. Hopefully, well prepared.
8. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.
Ephesians 4:31-32 states, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
At the Parousia, all of us will hope to hear Jesus tell us, "well done, good and faithful friend, enter into the home of my Father prepared for you"? The fruits of the Holy Spirit are, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law." We are to be faithful going to Mass, frequent the Sacraments of Communion and Confession while we still can.
With this in mind, we should faithfully hold fast to our faith, to be loyal to God above all things, even football!
9. Ensure assigned tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished.
Romans 12:6-8 states, "Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness."
We as leaders are considered to be seed planters, sometimes, others are called to cultivate the harvest, but it is important for us to continue to help those who are seeking to grow. We may not always be successful, God gives each person free will and some will willingly choose to go the wrong path. Sometimes all we can do is pray, but we should never give up.
With this in mind, we should always trust in the Lord knowing that with Him, all things are possible and He uses each of us to help bring back the prodigals.
10. Train your people as a team.
Titus 3:12-15 states, "When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. And let our people learn to apply themselves to good deeds, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not to be unfruitful. All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all."
St. Paul was certainly one of the greatest when developing leaders who ultimately traveled with him. Ultimately, two future early Popes, Linus (2 Timothy 4:21 and Clement (Philippians 4:3) learned much from St. Paul.
With this in mind, we should trust the Lord, who knows, maybe God will raise up a great Saint through the work that you do! You will be considered wise in heaven.
11. Employ your team in accordance with its capabilities.
Matthew 28:18-20 states, "And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."
Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would help us in this Command (John 14:16) and we would be His witnesses to the whole world (Acts 1:8) until Jesus returns at the Second Coming. Let us always keep ourselves fresh in the Spirit of His truth.
With this in mind, let us be glad for this is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalms 118:24)
A most essential task for any leader is to speak to the one who gives the orders. As Christians, we must be dedicated to prayer, devotion, and dedication.
If we apply these Eleven Principles of Leadership, we will not only grow ourselves, but we might be planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season...