The Leadership That Marks the World

Deep down, everyone has a deep desire to touch lives, inspire hearts and minds to do the best. We want to do great things. We want to win the great battle. We want to reach the mountaintop. We want to live our ordinary life extraordinarily. We not only want to be these things, we want to point others to them also. The purpose of this paper is to identify some characteristics of an excellent leader.

To be a leader is no walk in the park. We have the arduous task of inspiring ordinary people to attain the extraordinary, and to stir natural man to the supernatural. Leadership demands us to be selfless in the service of others, and to sacrifice our lives to save others; it demands us to act alone sometimes, even if we don’t know most of the consequences— “loneliness of command”. So, that’s why many fail.

Although in the modern world people are reticent to accept things based solely on authority, when someone bold, courageous, fearless, and authentic emerges, they follow him faithfully. Bold leaders who can lead people to greatness inspire people how to win the inner war are followed without question. Young and old, men and women are looking for a leader who can look at them in the eyes and tell them the truth about themselves, about reality and life. They want someone who lives what he teaches. That’s the leader that inspires.

cPeople want a leader who leads by example. Do you ever wonder how was Jesus able to have so many followers, and get 12 uneducated men to set the world on fire through the gospel message? He inspired them through the examples of his life. They remained committed to him because he was never afraid to tell them the truth in love, even when it hurts. Sometimes the truth is so bold and mind boggling, some left, but they returned. “Lord to whom shall we go you have the world of eternal life” (John 6:68).

He was the finest example of authentic leadership. His conviction, humility, oratory skills made him one of the greatest leaders we have ever had. Throughout history, kings, queens, emperors, and presidents send their subjects off to die for them; their servants serve them. Jesus is the only leader who came to serve not to be served, and the only one who died for his subjects. This style of leadership has never been seen before, and I am not sure if any great leader has been wise enough to imitate it. However, the fruit this style bears is more effective than any style we are familiar with. It yields followers who are not afraid to give their lives for him. He has faithful followers in every corner of the earth. Genius huh?

Why was he so successful we may ask? Inspiration is everything. Great ideas and eloquent phrases are indubitably beautiful, but none is more effective than someone capable of inspiring others. The most beautiful speeches that cause change of hearts are not the poetic, and flawlessly written ones; the most effective speeches are demonstrated, and lived. They are the ones that inspire. They are unforgettable.family-driven-faith-3

A true leader is courageous. Courage is a virtue, so it must be acquired. No one was born a leader according to Aristotle. It is a choice just like exercising is a choice. One becomes a strong, courageous, inspiring, and bold leader through practice, sacrifice, and discipline. Jesus was never afraid of the consequences of the truth, like when he was teaching on the Eucharist. The saints are courageous. Was St. Joseph not courageous? Good man, but ordinary man that he was, God asked him to accept Mary as his pregnant wife although he never did the deed; he accepts. Could you believe this? He accepts to take Mary as his wife although he had no idea at first how she became pregnant. That’s bold. That’s courageous. He fulfilled what St. Paul would say years later: “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like a man, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13). That’s what kept the saints going among ridicule, doubts, fears, and during periods of the dark night of the souls. They kept their eyes on the goal. They remained grounded on their spiritual Reference Point— God through daily prayer. Consequently, they won the unfading crown prize.

lincolnCourage is the mother of every great moment and movement that has changed the course of history. It is what led Abraham Lincoln to do fight to preserve the union, abolish slavery, strengthen the federal government, and modernize the economy. It is what inspired Gandhi to stand up for freedom through the use of non-violence against the British. It is what led to the passage and ratification of the Constitutional amendment that guaranteed women the right to vote in 1919. It is how the civil rights movement won passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for black Americans. They succeeded because they were not spiritually malnourished. Courage cannot be maintained unless rooted in a prayer life; that is necessary if anything noteworthy is to be accomplished. Courage, perseverance, and the will to fight for what is right till the very end make them a great leader.

A leadership vacuum exists in our culture. The world is in need of leaders. Our church is in desperate need of leaders who can inspire people to boldly embrace the gospel. We need leaders who are not afraid to defend our divine right in the public square. When we speak, even our own people don’t listen. When we get attacked, we don’t have one voice that could present our case for us, although many little voices are trying. We continue to succumb to the pressure of the masses about what to teach in our schools. We accept the fact that the natural law is not a valid argument in the public square. We continue to honor pro-abortion politicians with honorary degrees in our colleges. Our universities, the media, and Hollywood have done a masterful job at ridiculing every Christian virtue and elevating every form of sin as a noble right, cloaked under the guise of rights of freedom of choice.

slide_346602_3652488_freeThis is a direct result of poor leadership. We are all guilty; if we radically live the gospel, people will listen; they would not trample our views underfoot; they would not dare asking us to cover our cross when they are passing by. It does not take too many to change this trend. Just as it did not take too many St. John Vianneys to change the city of Ars, just as it did not need too many Mother Teresas to transform Calcutta, just as it did not take too many John Paul IIs to change Poland, it will not take too many of us to change this trend. But it will take some of us. Don’t ask who will it be? Look in the mirror.

May the Good Lord give rise to courageous leaders capable of leading us out of this mess. Amen.

Advertisements

The Human Struggle to Self-discovery

In the grand scheme of things, there must be three pictures of each one of us before God: what God wants us to be, what we think we are, and what we actually are. I believe this life is about striving to synchronize these three pictures. Life is a battle trying to unite these three pictures. In each one of us is a disproportion and want of conformity; there is an imbalance created by the fall that causes man to be perpetually fighting. As Donald Burt put it: “our pilgrim journey is a tale of twisting and turning down the road to heaven. We don’t make our way through life like a straight arrow. We are more like tops… lurching from side to side, sometimes falling off as we lose momentum and need to be picked up”. We labor in pain as we await the fulfillment of our hope and the glorious coming of our savior as St. Paul describes it. It is like being trapped in the prison of the body where the soul is constantly striving to escape, in the word of Plato. St. Augustine put it so beautifully: “I longed for the chance to devote myself wholly to you, but I was held back… bound by the bonds of my own iron will. My two wills are in conflict and they rob my soul of all concentration (Confessions VIII, 5:10).

sonsonAs we journey through this desert and vale of tears, we move from one trouble to another. First, we must acquire the energy and wisdom to discover what we must do to reach eternal life, which is more than just following the law as the rich young man in the gospel of Matthew. This endeavor may take forever, and some got stuck in this painful endeavor for a good trunk of their life, and others spend their whole life trying. After this, we must act on the discovery. When we actually set our mind on doing it, we realize how much we are incapable of doing it. This begins the battle between the spirit and the flesh. No matter where we are in life, this is never overcome to the point of utter annihilation.

Our third challenge may arise from discouragement. Many of a time, we feel like Sisyphus condemned to do the same boring thing again and again. Life can become a nuisance where we feel like there is nothing new under the sun. That too must be overcome for we find our energy and hope in the future life. We know this life is not all there is. We are like souls in purgatory; we suffer, but we know there is hope. Purgatory_Plan We know our efforts will bear fruit and pay off. So we fight. When we acquire the discipline to keep going and fighting with enthusiasm and perdurance, and then there is worry. We worry about our children, our neighbors, our physical needs, our community, the governments… There is always something.

That’s the reality that both of us have to face in this life. It is the consequence of Adam and Eve trying to be god. That’s sin. That’s what happens to you and I when we think we can do it on our own, or when we give God the back seat. Be honest with yourself. Know who you are so you can understand how much you need God. When we pretend to make ourselves someone greater or lesser than who we are, we cannot accurately describe who we are. As a result, we lost the sight of where we are going. When we don’t go where we are going, we are remote from God for from him we come and to him we are returning. When we are remote from God, we become afraid of even God.350px-Michelangelo,_Giudizio_Universale_02

Honestly get to know yourself. That’s the most efficient remedy against this restlessness. “Know Thyself” was the motto inscribed in the doorpost at the oracle of Delphi in the Athens of Plato. To reveal man to man is the very reason God became incarnate. The search to want to know himself gives us St. Augustine and his masterpieces like the Confessions, the Trinitate, the City of God to name just a few, and he is a saint. Is there anything greater?

Start the journey to self-discovery. He is with you. Savor this delightful quote from the master: “What am I to myself without you, if not a guide to my own self-destruction? Or what am I, when all goes well for me, if not someone who sucks your milk, or savors you as food that does not get corrupted? And what is man, any man, as long as he is man?” (Confessions IV, 1:1).

YOU ARE IMPORTANT!!!!!!

The truth about the human person is that he wants to feel appreciated. Though we don’t want to admit it, though we want to remain humble, we secretly like when people speak well about us. That’s why we feel bad when they speak ill, and try with every fiber of our being to be the best version of ourselves in order to be on people ‘s good side, most of time. Aristotle even went so far as to say, “no one does the wrong willingly and knowingly”. It’s human nature to want to make a difference. Well, I’ve recently learned we can kill two birds in one shot: we can simultaneously be liked and make a difference.

First, start with a smile. A smile says I like you, you make me happy, and and I am glad to see you. So, as you’re passing by someone today, don’t just simply greet him/her. Do it with a smile. I am not talking about an insincere grin, or a show of your beautiful well-arranged teeth, I mean a heartwarming smile that comes from within, the kind that will make a good price in the marketplace. As you wake up today, greet your husband or wife with a ‘good morning my dear ’ and smile as you say it, and you tell me the difference it makes. As you’re meeting your co-worker, pastor, friends, strangers in the next few days, do it with a nice smile that tell them what you’re about, and you’ll see how much people start to change their attitude toward you. They will want to know about that medication you’re taking, so to speak. Only one requirement, be sincere!

Image

Secondly, be interested in people. “Don’t be selfish. Don’t think everything has to be about you”, says Dale Carnegie. Let others speak. Don’t cut them off. Actively participate in the conversation. Look the person in the eyes. Make him/her feel that he/she is the most important thing in your life at this specific moment. We all like that. Take time to listen to people and listen interestedly. Ask questions. A study by the FBI found that people act on emotion rather than reason and that leads to violence and bad decision making. I think one of the ways to remedy that malady is to give people a chance to speak. The more you let a person speak, especially if there is anger, the quicker the emotion will subside and the mind will calm and there is a greater chance for a happy ending. So kindness, understanding, and good attention in conversation lead to more enjoyable and fruitful outcomes. Everyone wins.

Finally, make people feel important. You and I have a tendency to think that we are the most important person in the whole world, however that does not work. We are most important when we make people feel they are the most important. That’s a universal truth. Philology, all the philosophies, and religious systems—be it Plato, Aristotle, Buddha, Confucianism, Taoism, Jesus— have taught it in one form or another: ”do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. So next time, you see someone down, try to compliment him/her. That will raise up her/his spirit, and you never know, that might start a conversation that saves the day. We all have something worth being praised for. I know what you’re thinking: “what if I don’t find anything worthy of praise?” well, a nice office, a nice smile, a courageous act, an act of kindness, success, a good home or car, how one overcame a struggle etc. etc. are all worth a praise. Do you want people at your office to be more productive? Start praising them on what they are doing well. Tell them how important they are to the place. And you’ll see the difference. For a reason that I ignore, we all like being praised. We like knowing that WE ARE IMPORTANT. It brightens our day; it gives us confidence to go forward. It incentivizes us when we know someone had paid attention. That’s human nature. Again, one requirement, be genuine. No one wants to listen to cheap, insincere praise, or flattery.