The Qualities of Pastoral Leadership

Pope Francis, close to the people, criterion for being a bishop, shepherd, pastor

This is criterion number one, pastors close to the people.
Pope Francis

One of the MAJOR CHANGES needed in the Roman Catholic Church (and for that matter - all churches, no matter their theology) was the criteria used for choosing those who would be leaders in the church.

It is one thing when a young woman or man is just beginning in the work of ministry. In the early years, formation is FAR from complete. In fact, for most young leaders, formation of their inner world is just beginning. The ministry will be the refining fire, the crucible, the stage, the battlefield where their heart will be formed more like Christ... or they will react and move away from Christ.

However, the longer one is in leadership, the more the years go by, the greater and deeepr (and more genuine) will be the renovation of the heart and the curing of their soul's sickness. As a leader has the opportunity for roles that are of greater influence in their use of power and authority, the qualities necessary for them to be "fit" for such leadership become crucial.

It is not only the Roman Catholic Church that has promoted people to higher positions of leadership for the wrong reasons. In the North American context, we LOVE our leaders to be highly skilled, great communicators, "attractive," charismatic in personality, "larger than life" and so on. 

Too many times we promote people for those reasons, and we neglect to pay attention to the inner world of character, emotional intelligence, relational capacity and spirituality. Without those things in place, no matter how skilled or popular, a leader will simply not be able to do the ministry of Christ in the way of Christ in a sustained way.

It was with these things in mind that Pope Francis addressed those who were involved in promoting priests to the leadership role of bishops. Here is an extended quote (from Francis: Life and Revolution, pp. 245).

"In the delicate task of carrying out the inquiries leading to the choice of bishops, make sure the candidates are pastors who are close to the people. This is criterion number one: pastors close to the people.

One may be a great theologian, a beautiful mind; let him go and teach at the university where he will do much good!

Pastors! We need them!

May they be fathers and brothers,
mild, patient, and compassionate;
may they love inner poverty as freedom for the Lord
and external poverty as shown by a simple and austere life;
may they not have the psychology of a prince.
Make sure they are not ambitious,
that they are not seeking to become bishops."

Repairing of the house of the Lord needs a certain kind of leadership. Francis has described that leadership. 
Even more - Pope Francis models that kind of leadership.

May all of us called to leadership in the house of the Lord become such shepherds, close to and caring for the people of God.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International