Acknowledge What Is (Part 1)

stepsThere is a dialectic between what is (e.g., reality) and what could be.

As Ecclesiastes reminds us, there is a time for everything, including a time to acknowledge what is, the reality, and recognize it for what it is — in all its messiness, creativity, craziness, lack, and fullness.

As leaders, we try to uphold our strategies and visions with every might of energy we have. But there is a time when it is important and necessary to acknowledge what is before us — the reality, what “is.”

The reality before us is the first step toward what could be. Until we see and accept what is, we have no hope of achieving what could be.

Following His Lead

DRThe announcement of the new Archbishop of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, Francisco Ozoria Acosta of San Pedro de Macorís, has surprised some, but also appears to continue the pattern that Pope Francis has established elsewhere around the world.

He appointed someone with a strong pastoral background like himself, someone of the people who has walked with the people he shepherds.

Whereas the cardinal (his predecessor) has the classically European features of the upper classes, the new archbishop looks, and sounds, like most mixed-race Dominicans. . . Ozoria Ocosta told journalists this morning that he was a “passionate follower of the Second Vatican Council, above all of the ecclesiology of communion that underpins our national pastoral program.” . . He said his goals as archbishop would be to “give continuity to the Church’s mission,” get to know the archdiocese, and to perform the three tasks of a bishop of shepherding, educating and sanctifying. (Crux, July 4, 2016)

With summer comes some time to look at the type of leaders we want to raise up and nurture in our pastoral programs. As you look back on the last year or so, how would someone describe the leaders you have selected and developed? Is there a pattern? What would you want that pattern to be?

As you look ahead, what kind of leaders do you want to have when next year ends? What one thing can you do to make that happen.

Having reached the pinnacle of summer this weekend, the downhill side is ahead — and the time is now to begin to set our leadership planning in motion. Posts in the next few weeks will include ways to help you make progress on developing strong pastoral leaders.

Love Decides Everything

Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything. –Rev. Pedro Arrupe, SJ

If you’re like me, you didn’t know what you wanted to be when you grew up. You didn’t know what you wanted to major in in college. And you didn’t have a three- or a five- or a ten-year plan.

And if I am honest, I’m not entirely sure how I got to where I am professionally. The one thing I do know is that I have always tried to be true to the person that God created me, and love myself enough to make choices accordingly.

When I first started out, I didn’t know what I wanted to do or be. I just wanted a job in the hopes that I would figure that out along the way. So, I took a few jobs to pay the bills, left a couple of jobs that ate away at my soul, and found a job where the people and the work fit. I even fell in love there–with a man and with a direction for my life.

I came down with a bad case of the flu one winter. Spent hours on the couch. During the very brief half hours when I was awake, I decided to update my resume. It took a couple of days, and at the end of one particularly enjoyable nap, I reread what I had constructed, and it hit me. I loved teaching! A huge–unexpected–revelation.

Against the better advice of my co-workers, I got a job teaching high school, and had the four most successful, difficult, fulfilling, frustrating, amazing years of my young career. I had let myself “fall in love” over the course of those four years, and it did decide everything.

When I had the chance to leave my home of 13 years, move to a new city and new job, it was the loving support of my friends and the love that I had found in working with young people that enabled me to say “yes.”

In the professional decisions that followed, the question that has been at the center has always been, “Who am I called to love and how?”

I was privileged to meet Fr. Arrupe once, and was struck by his warmth and humility. His journey as leader of the Jesuits was filled with highs and lows, but it always seemed to come back to the question, “Who am I called to love and how?” It’s probably taken a while, but I think I am finally beginning to understand how to answer the question, “What do I want to be when I grow-up?”