“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and power are his.
He causes the changes of the times and seasons, establishes kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who understand.”
This beautiful verse invites consideration of God’s gifts of faith and leadership. Faith is the grace that allows people to move forward each day knowing that God is with them. Church leaders cultivate this understanding of the movement of God in their lives so that they can more freely be at God’s service for their neighbors in need.
But what of the gift of leadership itself? The grace of divine action that enables God’s people to serve one another? The gift of leadership enables so many things to happen in the life of the Church. This gift must also be cultivated in Scripture-based leaders for the ultimate purpose of serving God and building his Kingdom.
In one sense, leaders are custodians: they must care for people, places, and things that are not theirs. This sense of stewardship must be elevated—leaders are caretakers of God’s gifts, not simply users or mere recipients. As the parable of the talents explains (see Matthew 25:19–21), all of God’s people are expected to do something with the gifts they have been given, and return them to the Lord in thanksgiving. St. Peter instructs, “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10).
These concepts of appreciation, gifts, gratitude, and care-taking are important for a leader: they serve as reminders of a bigger picture than one’s own self, one’s parish, even one’s diocese. Gratitude is essential. If leaders fail to do this, they create a “disturbance of good people, neglect of gratitude” (Wisdom 14:26a), and become cold to the gifts and talents of others.
Leaders can and must be grateful to others and show it frequently in small ways, simple ways, sincere ways. How? A short handwritten note, a flower basket, a coffee or take-out lunch order? What are meaningful ways that consistently show gratitude for the gifts, talents, skills, and personhood of others?
This exercise helps you consider the gifts you have been given. As St. Paul notes, “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). Reflect on God’s irrevocable gifts to you in each of the areas below. These gifts could be people, events, circumstances, knowledge, or any other form; they could be family-related, personal, Church-related, professional, or educational.
- Gifts of Faith
Examples may include the blessings associated with being a Catholic Christian (e.g., the sacraments, a saint, a person you love, conversion of heart, etc.), or people God has placed in your life as beacons of faith.
Blessings originate in the Old Testament as a communication from God. God blesses us, but we humans fail to reciprocate. What blessings does God send to you? How are you reciprocating those blessings? How does God communicate with you? How do you communicate with God? In your life, whom might you want to bless in turn?
Talents, or aptitudes, are things that come naturally. They seem to be “born into” us. What aptitudes or talents do you have that can be used for the betterment of the Church, the community, and others? How can you encourage others to discover and share their aptitudes?
Skills come to us through knowledge-based activities, such as classes, training, or practice. What skills have you developed? What courses, training, or experiences have helped you? Have you mastered a skill set and then taught it to others? Have you helped others develop their own skills?
Completing this exercise as a team can be a powerful bonding experience; it can also highlight who can make unexpected contributions to the group. Another variation is to close each meeting or session with a “Moment of Gratitude” where each person says one thing they are thankful for. Bringing gratitude to the forefront is important in fostering effective leadership.
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