The other day Andre and I were having lunch with Sebastian Gomes, the Salt and Light Correspondent here in Rome, who produced the “Inside the Synod“ Show. He is also the host of a really cool new TV series called “The Church Alive“. We were talking about mutual friends and leaders we knew in the Church and how much we admired them. We were asking ourselves, why are these people such good leaders and why do they have such profound respect from many people? The answer was simple and obvious to us. It was because they are willing to serve, willing to help, willing to give completely of themselves without any expectation of reward, recompense, or recognition.
This was stark contrast to the waiter we had at an average Italian restaurant the night before. We asked for “Aqua con gas” (sparking water), he brought regular. Some of the food brought out was cold. He hardly came by the table, yet at the end he pointed out several times, the total does not include “service” (i.e. tip). At all the previous restaurants, this statement was never made, and I can tell you we won’t be going back to that restaurant. He expected much without being willing to give much of himself.
On the Tuesday evening, I was blessed to attend the installation of Cardinal Thomas Collins in his Titular Church in Rome – S. Patrizio. It was a moving evening as the Cardinal spoke about the symbolism of this installation. When a Cardinal is appointed, he is simultaneously given a special mandate in the pastoral leadership of the universal Church and given an appointment as a local pastor as a Cardinal priest. The symbolism should not be lost. With important leadership authority, comes responsibility. To be a senior leader in the Church, a Cardinal (which means the possibility to be the next Pope), has at its heart the local parish, a local community of believers to which the pastor is called to be the servant of the people of God. In short, a great leader is called to be a servant leader.
Servant leadership is a posture that Jesus modeled for all of us and to which we are called if we are to make a difference in the local community and in the world. This approach is something that I have sought to define my own leadership, with greater and lesser degrees of success. I have many inspirational servant leadership role models that I have sought to emulate – many living, many historical. New Evangelization Leadership will require Servant Leadership. Tell me who some of your inspirational servant leaders are – comment here or tweet me @ccopresident.