Spiritual Leadership: Fidelity With a Little Help From Francis, Jeremiah and Isaiah

Pope Francis quote, fidelity quote

Fidelity is always a change, a blossoming, a growth
Pope Francis, November 2007


With this thought (said before he became Pope), Pope Francis weaves together one of the paradoxes that all spiritual leadership acknowledges, even though it struggles with the reality.

Fidelity (or Faithfulness) is a BOTH - AND.

Fidelity is rooted in the past and seeks continuity with the past. That is how it is faithful to the tradition once given. And . . .

Fidelity is incarnated in the present and seeks a contexualization of faith for those who must hear it anew, fresh and often with ears that are tone deaf to the songs of Zion.

Leaders (as well as theologians and preachers) must do the dance of Jeremiah 6:16.

This is what the Lord says:
Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask here the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.

As leaders do this dance, they also take to the floor with the prophet Isaiah in 43:18-19.

Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.

True Fidelity has the unusual and rare juxtaposition of anchored and reflective of the ancient ways AND innovatively fresh, a blossoming of the old in the time of the new.

True spiritual leadership wrestles at the crossroads and finds creative, life-giving ways to find and walk in the good way.

It is simplistic and trite, but still true, to say this is enormously difficult. It is the easiest of things for those who once believed the Scriptures to water them down, redefine them, reduce them and generally abdicate fidelity in light of the criticisms of both modernity and post-modernity.

It is again trite but true to say we are going to need all the wisdom we can muster in the years ahead, if we are to be faithful to Christ, His Church and to the Missional Calling he has given to us.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International