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Preparing to lead

I once heard a question: If human beings are so smart, why are babies so dumb?

That may be unfair to babies, but there’s a point to it. Newborn animals can almost immediately do many things which humans take years to learn. For us humans, basic skills don’t come with instinct but have to be learned over a long period of time.

After early life at home, we go to school for years and then perhaps on to higher studies or further training. We come to see eventually that it takes a whole lifetime to learn the most important things – especially, what it takes to lead.

Real leaders

There’s no such thing as a self-made leader; we are all the product of a community, and learning to live with others is at the heart of our development. A human baby is wholly focused on its own needs. Developing means moving beyond that self-centredness to see and respond to the needs of others. That’s the only kind of personal development that produces leaders.

In a world where there’s a lot of fake leadership, what makes a real leader?

Real leaders understand that service is key, and sacrifice is part of service. They’re not interested in power or self-promotion, but know that they have to wash the feet of those they are privileged to lead.

Real leaders learn to listen before they speak, tuning into all voices, not just those who agree with them. They are able to listen even to the voice of Jesus, through prayer.

Real leaders learn to be humble, not proud. They know they are weak and wounded, but trust that, through Jesus, weakness can become a strength.

Real leaders are courageous, facing their fears and going beyond them, prepared to take risks and embrace necessary change, knowing that the future is always under God’s protection and care.

Real leaders learn to be patient, understanding that, as Pope Francis says, “time is greater than space”, that “we must initiate processes rather than occupy space”, and that anger tied to impatience is a road to nowhere.

Real leaders learn to speak the truth in a world where lies can be the norm, knowing that the ultimate lie is about God – that God doesn’t exist or is cruel. This always ends up being a lie about humans; that we are objects, to be used for slavery not freedom.

Jesus in word and action

Jesus called the disciples and said to them: “You know that those who are considered rulers of the heathen have power over them, and the leaders have complete authority. This, however, is not the way it is among you. If one of you wants to be great, you must be the servant of the rest; and if one of you wants to be first, you must be the slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served; he came to serve and to give his life to redeem many people” (Mark 10:42-45; see also Matthew 20:25-28; Luke 22:24-27).

“Jesus… poured some water into a washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist” (John 13:5).

A leader’s prayer

Give me, Lord Jesus,
eyes to see your gift,
ears to hear your call,
a heart to know your love,
lips to speak your word,
that I may learn to lead like you,
the Lord and servant of all.

What the Church says...

The Church teaches that the call to leadership is first heard in baptism. The community of disciples is not composed of those who lead and those who are led. All the baptised are called to be leaders of one kind or another. When we are baptised into Jesus, we all share in his priestly, prophetic and royal ministry.

This includes young disciples who are seen at times as the Church of the future. But they are called to leadership even now – as we can see in the lives of many young saints throughout history. They are as much the Church of the present as they are the Church of the future.

Baptism means that all are co-responsible in the Church, that all share responsibility for the mission of the Church. Some are ordained, and they have a special role of servant leadership. But the baptised who are not ordained have received gifts from God, sometimes called charisms. These are gifts given to the individual disciple for building up the Body of Christ for the sake of mission to the world.

The questions for all the baptised therefore are these: What gift or gifts have I received from God? How might this gift or these gifts be used to build up the Church for mission? How am I called to serve?

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Identity Identified Bible Covers

Identity:Identified contains 24 inserts and highlighting of key passages within the New Testament that are designed to help teenagers navigate life’s challenges with ways to identify why God created each one of us in the unique way He did.

This book also has a number of QR codes that link to a series of special videos that have numerous people sharing their stories and how they cope with life.

This is the perfect tool to help the younger generation in your life to follow Jesus as they navigate the challenges of life and trust him as a true friend and companion.