SERMON : Inevitable hardships in leadership

Today, as human society continues to become more and more developed and sophisticated, in the same way, leadership becomes harder and harder. The simpler the society is, the easier the task of leadership.

Today, as human society continues to become more and more developed and sophisticated, in the same way, leadership becomes harder and harder. The simpler the society is, the easier the task of leadership.

Consequently, a leader in a modern society, in order to deserve the appellation, he or she will always have a price to pay in terms of sacrifice and mortification.

It is not an easy task to be a leader in a fast changing society.If one defines leadership as the process of social influence in which one person becomes responsible for the common task whereby people contribute to their well being, then one understands how heavy that responsibility is.

Fortunately, good leaders do exist everywhere under the sun, despite the weight of that responsibility.

We still have, all over the world, leaders who fulfil their functions well, enabling their people to feel relatively secure and develop themselves into a society of their dream.

Such a leadership remains one of the most relevant aspects of the organizational context of any given society without which order and growth can be next to impossible.

Within the realm of leadership there are other concepts which are so closely related that it becomes hard to differentiate them.

That too makes leadership hard, because if one of them is ignored, then leadership is impaired. These are authority, power and service.

The problem with these terms is not only theoretical, hence at the level of their definition; it is more of a practical one, because good leaders must not only know how to define them, but especially how to keep them in balance! 
As mentioned above, we generally use these terms interchangeably in our daily language.

However, their meanings differ: while “power” is defined as “the ability to influence people to do things that they could not have done, authority on the other hand refers to a claim of legitimacy, the justification and right to exercise that power.

Authority is viewed as the formal power that a person has because of the position that he or she possesses in any given society or organization. 

Definitely, the person in such a position above must be ready to fulfil the requirements as well as accepting the suffering it might entail. Jesus stressed this point during his earthly teaching; as well as only God would do.

This happened when the two sons of Zebedee, James and John approached Jesus in a very human style and asked him the favour of making them his assistants.

They wanted two seats; one at his right hand and the other at the left hand. Watch how Jesus answered them: ‘You do not know what you are asking, can you drink the cup that I must drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I must be baptized?’ (Mk 10: 38) 

As he developed his point, Jesus compared two conceptions, one vertical and one horizontal of society and relationships between persons.

The vertical conception is centred on power, a power which underscores the difference between the powerful and the powerless, between those who rule and the ruled.

Then, Jesus Christ counters this conception with the second concept, which is his own, and which he has come to bring into the world with his presence, and which he wishes to leave as a legacy to his disciples and to all those who wish to follow his example in any other way.

This conception of Jesus which is horizontal highlights the equality between all, and is centred on service rather than power; where the powerful is at the service of the powerless.

For him; authority, power and leadership are terms which are closely related only if they aim at a generous service.

What Jesus meant is that service has in it an aspect of suffering, which James and John did not know. To serve, one must suffer.

At least, one must suffer such things as fatigue and hard effort of giving oneself totally. One may suffer humiliation, and even the contempt and ingratitude of those whom one is serving.

One may silently suffer the tragedy of the enormous distance between what one does at the service of some, and the huge needs of many other human beings that may be beyond one’s limits.

Perhaps one will have to suffer from the lack of understanding on the part of others, from biting comments, from the way in which some people misinterpret one’s service.

This is why leadership is difficult; it is not easy to serve while suffering. For one to do it well, one must have the right motivation.

For Christian leaders, it is the faith, which makes them discover in others, whoever they are, the same living Christ who is present in their daily life.

With such a motivation of faith, Mother Teresa has taught us that one will endure suffering in order to serve well beyond normal measures!

And a number of analysts attribute this to the reason why in the painful service to others we come across many leaders who have found God in the people they serve as well as finding their self fulfilment. And when such leaders are found, they make lots of difference.