Leadership: Part 1- A Spiritual Reflection

I was browsing an earlier addition of the Heart Of The Matter magazine from Villanova University. The issue concerned “Leadership in the Augustinian Tradition.” One of the articles talks about the fact that good leadership naturally depends on building a good personal framework. Jesus talks about this at the end of the seventh chapter of Matthew’s Gospel where he tells about what happens when one builds a house foundation on rock or on sand.

In this regard we are talking about a “worldview.” A worldview is a framework or a coherent set of fundamental beliefs through which we view the world, our calling and our future in it. It also underscores the very human search for answers to fundamental questions such as “Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? Where am I now? What obstacles keep me from true fulfillment? How do I overcome these obstacles?” This is especially important today when believers within the Catholic faith are finding their worldview challenged, even attacked, by people with a significantly different worldview.

What are the different types of worldviews? One example is the “post-modern world view” which is characterized by human independence and autonomy, scientific reason, dividing, separating and holding apart categories of secular versus sacred as well a trust in some type particular economic approach towards prosperity.

In a “biblical worldview” you would maintain that God is the creator of the universe, the Bible is historically accurate, there are moral absolutes, Christ - the Son of God - was born lived on earth, died, was buried, rose for our sins, rose again and that salvation is obtained by an individual faith and belief in Jesus Christ.

A “Catholic worldview” is sometimes referred to as a “sacramental worldview.” Notre Dame Professor Lawrence Cunningham suggests that this is “a mode of being in - and a way of seeing - the world and everything in it as a gift of God, that the world is good, that a proper sphere of human activity is to be received with gratitude and pursued as stewardship.” In terms of sin and evil, the Catholic view “succumbs to neither excess optimism nor hopeless pessimism but embraces a realistic viewpoint grounded in the themes of goodness of creation, the tragic fall of man and hopeful redemption in Jesus Christ.”

St. Augustine reminds us that in order to know God we need to get to know ourselves. Thus, it is not a wasted endeavor to not only entertain, but to also get answers to fundamental questions listed above as well as these:

  • In the face of a religiously skeptical, and even hostile, world - is there a God? How do I know? More importantly, what difference does this make to me and my life if there is?
  • In an expanding “throw-away” culture where humans are more and more being handled as “commodities,” what does it mean to be a human person?
  • With such debate about reality and the redefinition of seemingly everything, what can I know concretely about the world around me and my place in it? What is reality? What is truth? How can I know?
  • How do I relate to others? How do my relationships and my inter-personal interactions animate my attitude about - and my approach towards - family, friends, society, politics, stuff I own, economics?

St. Irenaeus said that “the glory of God is man/woman fully alive.” Thus we are called to thrive and not just survive. In order to accomplish this, we need to intentionally own the leadership of ourselves. One example of this, in my life, was my participation in the “Good Leaders – Good Shepherds” program of Catholic Leadership Institute. The first two parts of the curriculum are, “Module 1 - Self-Preparation for Leadership” and “Module 2 - Leadership in the Self Context.” Almost sounds Ignatian.

Over the next few weeks we will delve into this from an Augustinian leadership perspective.

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