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Leadership – Build on the Rock or Don’t Bother Building At All

Behind my desk are two bookshelves (I’m glad that I’m down to just two. Priests have a penchant for collection volumes of printed matter).  Recently, while glancing around the shelves, I noticed that I possess 45 book on “leadership.” Most of them were good reads and I was able to glean some helpful information from them.

“Yes but have you actually read them all Father or are you just collecting them?”
[Father] …”Pretty much.”

With all of the complex situations facing the Archdiocese of Philadelphia specifically, and the Catholic Church in general, solid leadership will certainly be a valuable and needed asset if we’re going to move forward. I’ve always been a big proponent of Proverbs 29:18 – “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” I’ve been in situations where a lack of vision, direction and leadership did have serious negative consequences. I have also been very fortunate to be involved in some projects and endeavors where there was a tremendous vision and excellent leadership. The atmosphere and the experience was intoxicating!

Nevertheless, there is certainly a danger that we might lean too heavily on “worldly” wisdom at the expense of the spiritual. This is certainly germane as we enter the “Year of Faith” and try and build up the faith within the Church of Jesus Christ.  Psalm 127: “If the LORD does not build the house, it is useless for the builders to work on it.” Along these lines, Father David Barnes (Pastor of St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish and Administrator of St. Margaret Parish in Beverly, Massachusetts) offers a cautionary note on striking the right balance and on laying the proper foundation “built on the Rock.” Having been asked to simultaneously shepherd two parishes myself, I realize that pastors face quite a challenge in trying to strike the right balance of using the SUPERnatural gifts while integrating the natural gifts and talents that the Lord has provided.

By the way, for those who were curious as to what leadership books were on the shelf, I’ve listed a number of them below. If anyone wants a particular volume, and is willing to pay for the postage, I’d be willing to “tithe” it away.

  • A Struggle for Holy Ground by Michael Weldon (Reconciliation and the Rites of Parish Closures)
  • Listening to the People of God by Charles Zech and Robert Miller (Closing, Rebuilding and Revitalizing Parishes)
  • Shaping Catholic Parishes, Pastoral Leaders in the 21st Century edited by Carole Ganim
  • The Changing Face of Church, Emerging Models of Parish Leadership by Marti Jewell and David Ramey
  • Pastoring Multiple Parishes by Mark Mogilka and Kate Wiskus
  • Priestly Ministry in Multiple Parishes by Katrina Schuth
  • Preventing Ministry Failure by Michael Todd Wilson and Brad Hoffmann
  • The Top Ten Mistakes that Leaders Make by Hans Finzel
  • Winners Never Cheat by Jon Huntsman
  • Help for Making Difficult Decisions by Reverend Eamon Tobin
  • Victory from Defeat by Andres Mason
  • Good Leaders – Good Shepherds by Dick Lyles, Tim Flanagan, Susan Fowler and Drea Zigarmi (Remember when I mentioned the “intoxicating” experience of leadership and vision above? These were the ones who made it happen for me in the development of the “Good Leaders – Good Shepherds” program) (Sorry, autographed copy. Can’t have this one)
  • Winning Ways by Dick Lyles (Ditto)
  • The Leading Edge by Jack Hayford
  • Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels
  • In the Name of Jesus, Reflections on Christian Leadership by Henri Nouwen
  • Keeping the Faith; Making a Difference by Wilson D. Miscamble, C.S.C. (Focus on young adult ministry)
  • God’s Road Map for (High School and College) Grads by David Bordon and Tome Winters
  • Living Successfully With Screwed-Up People by Elizabeth Brown
  • 1001 Ways to Energize Employees by Bob Nelson
  • 1001 Ways to Reward  Employees by Bob Nelson
  • How to Make Meetings Work by Michael Doyle and David Straus
  • The Ministry of the Small Group Leader by Eugene Skelton
  • Beginnings, A Taste of Serendipity. 7 Sessions to Become a Great Small Group! by Serendipity House, Littleton, CO
  • The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman
  • Drive by Daniel Pink
  • The Awesome Power of Shared Beliefs, Five Things Every Man Should Know by E. Glen Wagner
  • Groudswell, Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff
  • Asking by Jerold Panas (Development and Fund Raising)
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