May 2018


The Good Shepherd —

A Lesson in Servant Leadership

Fran Whelan


We just recently celebrated Good Shepherd Sunday. Jesus is the perfect example/ role model for what it means to be a servant leader. He thought by parables and by example, especially when He washed the feet of the Disciples. So how do we translate His teachings and example into the 21st Century? Let’s discuss four areas where this can apply: family, work, politics and Church.


Family: At our last faith sharing group, we discussed parenting and favoritism among siblings, especially in large families. The topic became a lesson in the Shepherd and the lost sheep. If a child is sick, being bullied, or has special needs, the parents are going to give more attention because they want the child to have the support and tools needed to heal, get strong, or more independent. It doesn’t mean the parents  don’t love the others less. Also parents relate to their children differently because of individual personality. My mom used to always tell me, “You know, you are my favorite first daughter.” Then I would give her the Spock eyebrow and reply, “I am your first daughter.” Then she’d say, “ That’s why you are my favorite first.”


Work: I worked for one of the best supervisors, not once but twice in two different organizations. LB hired me in 1998 to the Staffing Office at UNMH and then as a Project Coordinator at LMC. She had the earned respect and loyalty of her staff because she had a wonderful work ethic and a servant leadership management philosophy. She told us that we were a team and no one was above another. We may have different positions but without each other we could not survive as a team. LB stated she may be the director, but our positions were more critical. She said we were not there to serve her, but rather, she was there to serve us! She stated her role was to provide the tools we needed to do our jobs well. She encouraged staff to believe in themselves, recognizing strengths, working on weaknesses. LB said her job was to go to bat for her staff. (You can see why I worked for her twice!)


Politics: There are many examples of great leaders throughput the centuries. I want to keep it real and local and present to you, NM Senator Jerry Ortiz-y Pino. For as long as I have known Jerry, he has always worked in NM state government. I have voted him into office every re-election, because he is a hard-working humble, honest and ethical politician. A rarity these days. I know Jerry as a friend and fellow Catholic, who lives out the Gospel message to love thy neighbor. He introduces legislation that includes all New Mexicans. He especially looks out for the marginalized and is the Voice for the voiceless.  He is retiring soon but he will still be the Voice for the voiceless with all his charitable works, in particular FOCES, Friends of the Children of El Salvador.


Church: I offer two examples. First, blessed Oscar Romero. Oscar was a studious bookworm and intellect and always towed the line. Thus why he was elevated to Archbishop of San Salvador. He followed Church orders and kept quiet about the military government and the bloody civil war in El Salvador. The heirarchy was pleased because the Church would not be a focus of the military regime. But then, a fellow priest friend who worked with the peasants was murdered. Romero went to the scene and then had a radical conversion. It opened his eyes and heart to the plight of the Salvadoran people. He started speaking out against the violence and his flock listened to his broadcasted homilies on transitor radios. He was shot and killed while saying Mass. He is finally being canonized this fall. St. Oscar Romero pray for us.

The second example is Pope Francis, who is a breath of fresh air after the pedophile scandal. He embodies the spirit of Vatican II. He has brought transparency to the papacy and the Curia. He has instituted programs at the Vatican for the homeless. He allows the children to get close to him. He has written encyclicals on family, the joy of the Gospel, the environment, etc. He is filled with the Holy Spirit. He is humble and lives in community rather than the papal apartment. Could be the Jesuit in him to want to live in community. But he is planting the seeds to bring the Church into the 21st Century. He is well loved by Catholics, Protestants, and even atheists.

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