Leadership Reflections from the Papal Visit to America

I’m not Catholic. However, I’ve always been fascinated by the way Catholics admire and respect their leader. My earliest recollection of watching Catholics speak well of their leader began with Pope John Paul II. I must admit that when the process of selecting the new Pope occurred I was glued to the TV along with millions around the world waiting anxiously for the results from the Papal Conclave and the sign of the white smoke that a new Pope had been selected. I was captivated.

Again, I’m not Catholic but the structure and organization of the Catholic church has always intrigued me. The Papal Visit to America comes at a time when there are several moral and social issues that plague our nation and our world, but the presence of Pope Francis on American soil has caused men and women of all walks of society to stop and listen to his words of inspiration for a better world today and for future generations.

As I was drawn to broadcast reports and several articles written about Pope Francis’ visit to America, I began to observe him through the lens of leadership. Here are a few of my observations.

::Leaders are approachable.

There have been several images of both Catholics and non-Catholics alike who rearranged their schedules to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis. Many knew that it would be impossible to get close to him; however there were others {amidst very tight security} who managed to get a handshake, a hug and even a selfie. And then there’s 5 year old Sofia Cruz. This little girl was determined to get a message to Pope Francis – by any means necessary. She found her way through security barriers and onto the streets of Washington, DC carrying a message and a yellow tshirt. What stands out most to me is that although the security detail tried to prevent her from getting close to the Pope, he saw her, and called her to him. It reminded me of the scripture – “suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not for of such is the Kingdom of heaven.” {Matt 19:14} The Pope has repeatedly echoed his desire to serve others and his gracious act of refusing no one reminds me that leadership is a privilege.

::Leaders are humble

Through all of the media coverage, I observed the geniune humility of a person who recognized the weight of his responsibility to the people he serves. I observed a man not moved by title or position but one moved by love and compassion for others. I observed a man who makes himself of no reputation {I mean the Pope carries his own bags and has no need of even one adjutant. How about that? I’ll leave that alone now}. He repeatedly makes the decision to serve rather than be served.  My point? As a leader he demonstrates to me that true humility is not about about what you do, its about who you are. His one request of the school children he visited in Brooklyn was simply, please pray for me. I may not agree with the doctrine of Catholicism but I will agree that EVERY leader should seek prayer from those they serve rather than praise.

::Leaders speak the truth in love

Its was a history making event to have Pope Francis address a joint session of Congress. Elected officials with diverse backgrounds and equally diverse opinions assembled themselves to hear the words of a man more interested in the common good of others and less about political affiliations. He touched on sensitive issues that plague our world and appealed to the core of our humanity by reminding Congress of the Golden Rule – “do unto others as you have them do unto you.” You see, as a leader and person of influence, we must always take a stand for what is right – regardless of how unpopular it may be. Many did not agree with what he had to say, but everyone respected him for how he said it.

Again, I’m not Catholic. I’m a proud follower and servant of Jesus Christ. The Pope is not perfect, neither am I. The Pope has personal struggles and so do I. But when I see great leadership principles demonstrated I pay attention. I look for opportunities to grow. You should too.

Contined prayers for Pope Francis and my brothers and sisters of the Catholic church.

With Excellence,
Towanda

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One comment on “Leadership Reflections from the Papal Visit to America
  1. Robyn says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed this post. My sentiments exactly! Look and Learn America! His visit and the response of his followers were amazing teachable moments for us all.

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