Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It’s not easy to be a leader. There are many reasons for this; our own personal limitations, the varied and necessary skills one must possess, and frankly just dealing with other people. Rare is it to find a truly great leader, despite the great demand for them in so many different places and situations. Before you think Fr. Dan is getting a big head, I am not saying that I’m a great leader.

In parish life, it may seem that the pastor has a great deal of authority. On paper, you would be correct. But in my lived experience, a pastor wields very little actual power, if he is fulfilling his role in the way that he should. Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes the shepherd has to get tough with the flock, or sometimes just a few
sheep, to ensure that everyone is moving in the right direction and to avoid problems and trouble. That’s not easy, but it is quite necessary at times.

That’s one side of the coin. And when we think of the movers and shakers of society, of leadership in general, we tend to consider those that can crack the whip and get things done. We focus on the power, the authority, making the final call on something. It is a critical part of what it means to lead.

But I found that the other side of the coin is not only as important in leadership, but actually surpasses it. Having the right kind of humility is essential to being an effective leader. I’m not suggesting the kind of humility that allows for others to walk all over you; that’s not being humble, it’s being a door mat. Humility in
leadership is being able to accept failure in yourself and others, in enabling others to shine brighter than you when they achieve something, in being more worried about overall success than personal glory. It’s being able to sacrifice your own comfort or preference in order to help someone else be the best they can be.

Some may not agree with my assessment. But I feel like I’m in good company in valuing humility and servant leadership. Jesus Christ taught and modeled this: “But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not
be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt 20:25-28)

Friends, may we seek out and promote such leaders that take these words of Christ and live them fully. And for those of us in leadership, may we heed what Christ puts before us and serve effectively in our roles.

Peace and goodness,

Fr. Dan