Volume 4 - Issue 1  

 

 

March 31, 2014

 
 
The Kindling for the Fire is the Will:
A Discussion of the Attributes of Leadership in the Church
 
I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled.
  – Luke 12:49

By: Patrick O’Meara and Patrick J. McCloskey

In the business world, the idea that leadership is the exercise of the will upon an organization is not a new thought. Much has been written about how a leader’s vision empowers an organization by harnessing the talents and energies of all personnel. Within the Church, this idea of leadership is largely absent from consideration. In discussions about what makes a leader successful, particularly in the Church, conventional wisdom cites superior intellect and charismatic personality. This view is reinforced in the media and especially by business journals focusing attention on remarkable CEOs, such as Steve Jobs and Jack Welch. The truth, however, is that leadership is primarily a function of the will: the capacity to act decisively—based on the best available information and analysis, guided by prayer—and keep acting. It is not enough to simply initiate. Follow-through is the lifeblood of an institution seeking accomplishment.

The typical discussion of leadership in the Church focuses on a person’s intellect, charismatic gifts or even expertise in administration. These gifts can be effective tools, but only when they serve the leader’s endgame: to nurture and direct the will of the People of God towards the achievement of a vision for the local church. The leader’s first task is to transcend the difficulties of the here and now to become the bridge to the envisioned future reality. This is accomplished as the leader informs the intellect, stirs the emotions and calls the People of God into action—into applying their wills in community towards building that future reality. This activity becomes effective and long-lasting if it is the love of Christ that compels the People of God.

A recent study of European corporations that are at least 100 years old, published by Stanford University Press, found that charisma is a more likely personality trait in low performing companies than in high performing ones. This would seem to be counterintuitive but actually makes sense  ...

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Leadership as Conversion to God’s Will:
An Interview with Mike Dewan, President Emeritus of the St. Catherine of Siena Academy Foundation, Wixom, MI
  By: Patrick O’Meara and Patrick J. McCloskey

In 2010, the impossible happened. St. Catherine of Siena Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school, opened in a temporary facility in the Archdiocese of Detroit despite the Great Recession, which was worse in the metropolitan area than anywhere else nationwide. Two years later, the students and faculty moved into a new $30-million facility. St. Catherine’s was started not by a religious congregation or a diocese, as most Catholic schools, but with the promise a lay leader, Mike Dewan, made to his wife. It was to be a new school without alumni to tap for support or a dollar in the bank. There was no big donor to jumpstart the process and no certainty the Archdiocese would approve the school. In other dioceses,

bishops were shying away from new projects since they were closing existing Catholic schools at an alarming pace.

From a practical viewpoint, this project was not realistic. But reality, as Dewan learned in very acute ways, has material and spiritual dimensions, and God’s grace is a powerful force that can be invoked to transform human affairs ...

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