Priest's Perspective

A call to discipleship – self-leadership under the guidance of the Holy Spirit

Today the World over leaders are being challenged. We are very fortunate to have the President that we have. But all leaders, including me, are being challenged .

Everywhere people are calling out crying out in desperation for good leadership.

Abraham Lincoln said “

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

As leaders, given authority our character is tested more than our technical expertise – more than our ability – it is who we are not what we do that defines us as leaders.

And all around us we see leaders falling short because this battle is not only fought in the world around us between us and our followers, our subordinates  – it is fought within us.

We are looking for leadership in our own areas of engagement with the world -we are looking for strong leadership, in our homes, in our Wards, in our Churches in our businesses. People are looking to you for leadership – they are looking for heroes – they are looking for mentors, they are looking for encouragers and people who inspire.

Our world is desperately in need of inspiration – and your role in this world is not just to make money for your employers or your families, your job is not just about procedures and costs, it is about building a society where life is given dignity, where people are respected, where relationships are built, where compassion is given…

You are called to be heroes.

I have held many leadership position in my life and led many people, from Boy Scout to School Prefect, Lieutenant in the Military, Farm Manager, General Manager of a company; I have been a Management  and Organisational Development Consultant  and Community Developer and  Parish Priest and Director or Chairman of Civil Society Organisations;  and of course a Husband and father.

But of all the people I have led, the most demanding and difficult was and still is me. I am the least responsive to my own leadership, the least obedient and the most obnoxious – and I do not think that I am alone in this. Self- Leadership is the hardest of all , and as Christians it is to this self-leadership under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that we are called to.

Scripture teaches that this human condition of self -leadership is complex:  – St Paul writes in Romans 7:15  “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” 

Self-leadership requires more effort than any other – it requires more honesty, more commitment, more understanding than any other. It requires resisting temptation; it requires submission to the will of God.

Personally I demand less of others and am more forgiving of others than of myself. I am impossible to please and highly critical of myself.  I don’t think I am alone in that.

I think that very often it is this self-debasement that affects us much more than arrogance or over confidence, we compensate for our shortcomings by blaming other people. The system, the times, the conditions, the budget, the government – industry, the unions, the contractor, the public! COVD 19, the lockdown, my neighbour, well anybody other than our selves. We become jaded and cynical of our situation – not because of others but because of ourselves.

The trouble with this is that we cannot truly accept our successes if we do not accept our failures.

True leaders are able to acknowledge their failures and learn from them – but more than that true leaders are able to accept their successes and delight in them. Because it is our success that encourages us and others too. It is overcoming our shortcomings and our fears that encourage others.

I want to encourage each of my readers today to re-evaluate yourself and you involvement in the world; and change your paradigm : we need to value our own contribution more – we need to appreciate our own self leadership more – because when we do this we will put more effort into ourselves; and you cannot lead others if you are not a good leader of yourself. People might not do what you say – but they will do what you do… Good leaders’ value themselves and they value others. They bring out the best in themselves and they bring out the best in others. Good leaders – are heroes, disciples of Jesus are called to be heroes.

Have you ever noticed how in the movies the hero survives the most amazing things? Bruce Willis will have a pistol with six shots and shoot all his enemies, who have machine guns with hundreds of bullets that spray all around him but never hit him. Have you noticed how the hero storms the enemy and there are arrows and swords and spears flashing all over  and off centre stage on the side of the screen people are falling like flies, yet in the middle is this one man or women ( if you have seen Joan of Ark you will know what I mean) but this one hero, who is invincible,  dodging danger and pursuing the enemy!  Success is his or her only thought. Life is like that – it is the heroes who get to tell their stories. Now tell me why would you live your life off centre stage, to the left, where you die with one blow? When you can be centre stage warding off the entire army of the enemy!

Why would you want your name in the credits to be in small print and among a hundred others when you can have your name in big letters right at the top of the list? Numbered with the saints.

You are called to centre stage. As Christians the world is looking to you to be a hero. To be an example of courage to be an answer to their prayers (to be the one that God uses to answer prayer). Stand up and take your rightful place! God has called you to this greatness, as he has called many before you, to be heroes. God has called you to greatness, not to mediocrity.

I want you to think about what the last thing that you really did well. What has been your big success this month – what were you aiming to make a big success of this month – what solution were you aiming for, what change of attitude what did you do to overcome in these dire circumstances, oh it’s easy to find the mistakes, but look for the success! Even now when the whole world is in turmoil, you have goals (probably reprioritised, but you have goals). What are you doing to achieve them?

If you don’t expect performance , if you don’t expect excellence, if you don’t expect change, if you don’t see the potential for things to be as you wish them to be, then there is no chance of ever achieving them. Be the change that you desire. We get to build a whole new way of life. This lockdown enables us to build a new way of living. Set goals! And when you achieve them, don’t ignore them in false humility! The hero always records his or her victories, not in arrogance, but as a reminder.  Great leaders don’t gloat in their success, but they acknowledge it.

We are often quick to see our mistakes, but let us be quicker to see our successes, for these motivate us! One management guru said – “catch your staff doing something right” it motivates us when we recognise our own worth, and when our worth is recognised by others.

One of the biggest challenges in motivating leadership is that in today’s world we have killed the heart – we have deadened the passion – with paperwork and protocol, with standard operating procedures and billing – we have lost the art of keeping the main thing the main thing!

People have become objects, dreams have been buried, ambition for self-development and maturity has been reduced to desire for a paycheque and a name with a fancy title on your door! We have degenerated into being self-focussed instead of living for God and for each other. What should motivate us is the opportunity to better serve our fellow man. This is our opportunity. Coming out of lockdown is our chance, to influence our future.

Hero’s always live for others.

Hero’s always get others to see their worth.

Hero’s always win the hearts of others because they are passionate and committed and they never give up.

This world needs hero’s.

This world need’s role models..

This world needs passionate people…

The world is looking to disciples of Jesus to be those people.

St Paul writes: ( Phil 3:18-4:8)

 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ,   who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.   Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;   do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.   And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

May we pray.

Lord God pour out your blessing upon these your children who you have ordained to be your disciple’s. Holy Spirit inspire their hearts anew. Fill them with love and with a passion to serve you   in their community and in this season. Bless them with ability, with competence, with strength – but most of all Holy Spirit guide them as they submit to you and live to be all that you have created them to be. May they be the heroes that you have ordained them to be.

And the blessing of God the Father God the Son and God the Holy Spirit be upon you and upon all whom you lead in this place. Amen.

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