Brad Rozairo, OMI – Accepting any responsibility demands a big “yes” and if you are not prepared for the job, it can put you down when things do not go right. Many do not want to get involved in the leadership ministry because it demands time, energy and sacrifice and no doubt it poses a challenge. But if you are looking at this responsibility from the perspective of one’s personal growth and maturity, then I would say that in accepting the responsibility you will get to know yourself better, as well as your limits and capabilities. Leadership ministry helps find out the type of person you need to be in handling pressure situations. It also gives an opportunity to appreciate some of your learnings in making decisions that are not very easy. However, it depends on how a person responds to this invitation.
As I complete my term as the Delegation Superior, I look back at the six years. To me, leadership ministry demands certain qualities that are necessary, especially when it comes to your relationship with those entrusted to your care. Let me share with you a few that I consider important.
Availability: Without a doubt, availability is an important quality in leadership ministry. When one of your own is in need of you, then, you have got to leave your schedule behind and make yourself available. How much of your time and energy can be given to others will be tested by how you practice availability as a leader. This might not be easy especially when you live in a fast-moving society like Japan, but it is a must. If availability is your priority, then it might be good not to accept any other responsibilities that might prevent you from concentrating fully on the primary task given to you.
Patience: I used to pray for wisdom, strength and courage, but a few years ago, I added patience to my list! As an adolescent, I learned from my parents about being patient, humble and honest, but I must acknowledge that I have failed in practising patience. Sometimes you are put in an uncomfortable situation that forces you to act, but how you act with patience is very important. At times maintaining silence can help cultivate patience. How capable you are of controlling your emotions will depend on how calm you are within. There were occasions where I felt that patience could be observed, provided I was in control of my emotions. Anger, frustration and discouragement can disturb your emotions, but if you learn to stay calm, you can have a sound sleep.
Listening: Generally, the natural desire is to talk rather than to listen. This can prevent us from listening to the other. Whenever I come across people who are good listeners, I ask myself whether I am a good listener. I feel that it is important for a leader to develop some listening skills that will help them understand the people they serve better. Sometimes, you might be placed in an environment that is not very conducive to listening and concentration, but it is necessary to listen as much as possible. When an individual keeps repeating the same story it might not be easy to listen to, but you cannot run away. Patient listening will be put to the test, and such occasions will reveal the type of leader you are. When someone feels listened to, they feel loved and understood, and this helps build interpersonal relationships between the individual and the person in authority.
Communication: Once a friend of mine said to me that he did a course on communication, but he was a bad communicator! What helps us stay connected with others is communication. To function as a leader, we need to take communication seriously and remain connected with the people constantly. Leadership ministry demands that you always stay in touch with the members of your community by sharing updates, information, tools for animation etc. Thanks to digital media for helping us in this matter, but life in a digital world does not guarantee that we are good communicators. Also, we should not forget the importance of communication in person especially with the older members who are unable to communicate digitally. This has been one of my learnings in the office.
Courage: It takes a lot of courage to voice a new idea or to make an important decision. It can be hard, but when a situation invites a leader to act and make a decision for the betterment of a community, you will know how courageous you are. I think every leader in the religious circle has experienced this and knows what it entails. Courage is a key trait of good leaders and certain situations have made me question how courageous I was in making decisions for the good of others. Rather than avoiding problems or allowing conflicts to fester, courage enables a leader to step up and move things in the right direction. To do what is right and just, a leader has to not only take time for discernment but also pray for courage and strength.
Gratitude & Appreciation: Expressing a word of thanks to a member of your community for whatever that person does is a very important trait in leadership ministry. The act of thanking those under your care with words will encourage them and create feelings of trust and respect in your relationship with them. I may appreciate the works of my fellow brothers, but I need to also thank them for their labour and hard work. Sometimes I ask myself whether I have thanked my men enough for what they are, and for their contribution to the mission. It does not matter whether a task performed by an individual is big or small, but a word of appreciation helps that person move forward.
Accompaniment: A leader plays a role in accompanying a member who is in need. When a member in your community is going through a crisis and feels the need for accompaniment, I think it is the duty of the Superior or leader to step up. In one of my communities, a certain situation forced me to accompany an individual. What I learnt from that experience was, that it isn’t giving advice to a person, but journeying with him through presence. When a person in authority accompanies the other, it makes a big difference for that person. It shows that you care for the person.
I think through this article I have tried to pen down a few qualities which are necessary for a person in accepting the leadership ministry. As I look back on my ministry, I feel that the journey was not easy, but God has been good to me. How faithful you have been in accepting a certain responsibility will depend on how you have allowed God to lead you in fulfilling that responsibility entrusted to you. When things do not seem to work as planned, and when you go through the “low-face” of your term in office, you get depressed and frustrated. I think that is the moment you recall the words of Jesus, “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John15:5). Whether it is in the church or congregation, I believe that leadership is a ministry where more than human ability takes place, the strength and power of God are always at work. What is important is that you trust in His providence and while listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, move forward in fulfilling the task given to you.