By Father Joseph Mele
Part 23 of a weekly series
Leadership. Nothing gets done — in society, in government, in business and, yes, in the church — without good leadership. That is why Bishop David Zubik established the Secretariat for Leadership Development in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
One of the principal initiatives of this secretariat is dedicated to help prepare and equip pastors to know how to develop their current and emerging parish leaders. It is so right and fitting that our seminarians are trained well in crucial areas such as biblical studies and language, theology, church history, homiletics and moral theology. But they also need training in leadership competency.
In the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Bishop Zubik has implemented a pastoral year in which leadership development will be an integral component of the formation of seminarians. This is the time for more serious leadership development as it is included in the course of study.
But Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians also makes it clear that developing lay leadership is key:
“Grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. … And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature personhood” (Ephesians 4:7, 11-13).
Let’s look at the characteristics and competencies that our secretariat has recognized that help us define leadership. In character, pastoral leaders are:
- Women and men who are servants;
- Women and men who have aspired to deepen their spiritual life — the business world calls this character. We call it the virtuous life;
- Women and men who know where they are going — they identify a mission and have a leadership vision that directly serves the overarching mission.
Now, in looking for leaders and leaderships, let’s combine these characteristics with four principle competencies of true leaders:
- True leaders have a deep interior life, the heart and soul of the pastoral leader. This development blesses the leader with Christ-likeness from core to crust. In our secretariat we have adopted the motto “Leading with the Heart of Christ.”
- True leaders have “teach-ability.” If one is unteachable at the beginning, they are not called to leadership.
- True leaders have the capacity for knowledge and learning. In preparing Moses for leadership, God specifically taught Moses what to do. Competency and confidence in leadership is based to a great degree on knowing what to do.
- True leaders have what is called emotional intelligence. These pastoral leaders thrive when they are given sufficient latitude along with support and high expectations. They will become more effective in the “great commission” of Christ (Matthew 28:16-20). Once they begin to understand their emotions and place them at the service of mission, they flourish in self-confidence and consistency, psychological stability, joy and optimism.
The church has long called it human formation or living in our humanity. It is the reality that we are an incarnational people because of Christ taking on our humanity.
While all pastoral leaders are strong in these areas, every good pastoral leader needs to continuously grow and develop these pastoral characteristics and competencies as a plan for life. We must become the best we can be for the sake of Christ and the church.Father Mele is vicar for leadership development.0