What is Christian Leadership?

by Benjamin Neo 

When we hear this question, most of us respond in one of two ways; to embrace it and fight for it or to flee from it. At the heart of either response, is the question of whether you are committed to the cause that you are called to stand for. I too like many of us stand on the side that would flee from any responsibility, let alone being a Christian leader and having to lead others to Jesus. However, by the grace of God I have been transformed and have learnt to embrace this call as He draws me into the deep with Him. At times, I struggle and it is just so much easier to turn away from this role. Yet, something within stirs and yearns to go beyond myself. In the simple and ordinary, He calls me. You too are called and chosen by Jesus..

Perhaps our next thought is this: only someone who has an appointed position can be a leader. We think of leaders in our communities, the clergy, the religious, those in authority, but we never think of ourselves. Often times, we see ourselves as not being good enough and decide it is simply not for us. If this speaks to you, I invite and challenge you to view Christian Leadership differently for it involves a follower of Jesus leading others to Him.

The Call to Christian Leadership

We have received a mandate to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and it is our responsibility and duty by virtue of our baptism into the Catholic Church. Scripture says,

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere— in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Just as the disciples who were gathered to witness His ascension received this mandate, we too have received this mandate in our Baptism. We are called to take on Mission Jesus; having received and been empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are called to bear witness of the good news of Jesus in every area of our life and in all situations that we face. It is our mission through our baptism to bring Jesus to the world.

Furthermore, CCC 83 says,

“Jesus Christ is the one whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit and established as priest, prophet, and king. The whole People of God participates in these three offices of Christ and bears the responsibilities for mission and service that flow from them.” 

We exercise these three offices as follows:

Priest (To sanctify)

CCC 941 – Lay people share in Christ’s priesthood: ever more united with Him, they exhibit the grace of Baptism and Confirmation in all dimensions of their personal family, social and ecclesial lives, and so fulfil the call to holiness addressed to all the baptized.

We are called to practice this office to sanctify our daily lives by living a life of holiness; growing in our relationship with God, discovering and responding to His will for each of us out of love.

Prophet (To teach)

CCC 942 – By virtue of their prophetic mission, lay people “are called . . . to be witnesses to Christ in all circumstances and at the very heart of the community of mankind”

We are called to practice this office by bearing witness through our lives; choosing to love and bear with one another, being patient instead of complaining and picking on the faults of others, standing up for others instead of joining in with gossip or simply to bring the love of God to the small things we do like smiling at one another. When the opportunity arises and people ask why we respond, think and act in a different way, we must proclaim Jesus Christ so that others may be led to Him.

“And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard of Him? And how will they hear of Him unless there is a preacher for them?” Romans 10: 14

King (To Govern) 

CCC 943 – By virtue of their kingly mission, laypeople have the power to uproot the rule of sin within themselves and in the world, by their self-denial and holiness of life.

We are called to practice this office by firstly ordering and governing ourselves that we would not succumb to our desires and in practising self-denial, overcome the reign of sin within ourselves. After, we are called to govern the world by favouring the practice of virtues and by bringing Christian values to our work place, the institutions we study in and even to our homes.

In short, we are called to live a life of holiness and in doing so sanctify our lives and the world, witness through our lives the good news of Jesus and to teach and proclaim in word when the opportunity arises and to govern by uprooting sin within ourselves and wherever we have influence in. Let us also draw inspiration as we look to Saint Teresa of Avila and Pope Francis in Christus Vivit (Christ is Alive):

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which He blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are His body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” St Teresa of Avila

“Do not be afraid to go and bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away and most indifferent. The Lord seeks all; He wants everyone to feel the warmth of His mercy and His love… That is how the Lord goes out to meet everyone. He loves you, dear young people, for you are the means by which He can spread His light and hope.” Christus Vivit 177

We simply can’t wait for someone else to take up this mission that is our own. We can’t put it off for when it is convenient. Jesus can’t wait to welcome and draw people home to the Father through you, those you interact with simply can’t wait for someone else to share the good news of Jesus with them. It has to be you. Had the disciples chosen to wait for someone else to spread the good news, we would not have received this faith or the truth that we are loved by the God the Father, that we are His children saved by Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

How can we proceed to lead others to Jesus?

Firstly, we need to be in a relationship with Jesus. There is no other option if we want to share of Him but not have a personal encounter with Him. When we are in a relationship with Jesus, everything that we do will flow from this relationship as we come to know Him, desire to put Him first and respond to His invitation as He leads and guides. As we enter into this relationship with Jesus, we begin to know the message of salvation that He brings and choose to trust and give our lives to Him that we may continue to be saved from sin.

Pope Paul VI encourages us in his exaltation Evangelii Nuntiandi (evangelization in the modern world) that, “modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses” (41).

Thus if we have not encountered the heart of Jesus, we can’t share with Him to others.

Secondly, when we have an ongoing relationship with Jesus and come to know the love of God the Father and be empowered by the Holy Spirit, we receive so much love from Him that it can’t be contained within us and we naturally will want to share this love encounter with another.

We can go about this in a number of ways that are non exhaustive which Pope Paul VI has shared in Evangelii Nuntiandi paragraphs 21 to 23. This is helpful for our personal walk with Jesus as we take stock of where we are and as we lead others through these stages.

  1. Silent witness through life:

We witness to what we have encountered in Jesus through the way we live. How we respond, think and act become starting points to cause others to wonder why we are able to be loving and understanding, merciful and kind, patient and supportive. It can simply mean to walk away from gossip, to stay behind to help a friend in need or to be more loving to our family members.

  1. Proclamation of Kerygma:

We proclaim the kerygma; that God loves us unconditionally and have created each of us so we can have a relationship with him but this relationship has been broken because of our sins. It is only through Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection that this relationship with God is restored and Jesus invites us to trust in him, turn away from sin and to give our lives to him and that He poured out the Holy Spirit to us so that we can have new life in His church.

  1. Conversion and adherence:

We are transformed in the way we live and begin a new life; our goals, what we allow to define our worth, our mission and purpose. We adhere to a different standard, Jesus’ and putting Him in the centre of our lives and allow Him to guide and lead us. We live not just for ourselves but for others and we actively turn away from what leads us away from Him, carry our crosses and follow Him.

  1. Community:

We enter into a community of believers, the church, and continue to encounter and adhere to its teachings. We encourage and support each other as we take this same journey and go towards Jesus. We allow ourselves to be vulnerable to others and see that we can’t take this journey alone. We partake in the sacraments and are transformed.

  1. Evangelisers:

We become evangelisers and actively look for opportunities to share about Jesus to others. Our every thought, act and response is for sharing Jesus actively with another. It can be a simple act of loving our parents by spending time talking to them when previously we might have seen them as being naggy and thus ignored them or appreciating and loving our siblings by helping them in the household chores and finding out how their day has been instead of picking a fight with them. We can also take courage to initiate a time for the family to pray together.

At school, it can be a simple act of walking away from gossip instead of participating in it or sacrificing your own time to study to tutor and help a classmate who is struggling. At work, it can be a simple act of offering to cover for a co-worker who needs to take leave to care for her sick child or to put up a crucifix and have a small prayer space at your work cubicle. All of these ways are simple acts that we can do in our daily life to bring the good news of Jesus to those around us.

What is your response?

Dear brothers and sisters, what will be your choice? Will you choose to say Yes to Jesus, firstly to a personal intimate relationship with Him and after to be His hands and feet to the world? Will you say Yes in taking up mission Jesus and making Him known to the ends of the earth? Will you choose to go into the uncomfortable for something beyond yourself and to aid in establishing the kingdom of God here on earth? Will you choose Him because Jesus has called and chosen you.

Benjamin, second from right

About me: Hi everyone, I am Benjamin and I work for the office. I experience God’s love through reading, listening to music and gardening. I praise and thank God for the desire that he has put in my heart for him and Jesus is my saviour and healer. It is a privilege to be his wounded healer. Would you too?

 

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