May 21 – Saint Christopher Magallanes and his Companions
St. Cristóbal Magallanes Jara was born in the state of Jalisco in Mexico, in 1869. He was ordained priest at the age of 30, and became parish priest of his home town of Totatiche. He took a special interest in the evangelization of the local indigenous Huichol people and founded a mission for them. When government persecution of the Catholic Church began and the seminaries were closed, he opened a small local ‘auxiliary seminary’. He wrote and preached against armed rebellion, but was falsely accused of promoting the Cristero rebellion. He was arrested on 21 May 1927, while on the way to celebrate Mass at a farm. He was executed without a trial, but not before giving his remaining possessions to his executioners and giving them absolution.
With him are celebrated 24 other Mexican martyrs of the early 20th century.
We are in the midst of a leadership transition, not just at our parent ministry (our new education minister took office this week), but also where I work. Over the past decade, I have been through 4 changes of ministers, a change in senior management, and more than a few Board members. Some of my senior colleagues joke that I am about to become ‘fossilised’ in my role – something I smile wryly at. In all honesty, it is a position I have never, ever been in throughout my working life, because I only stayed 3 to 4 years (on average) at each of my previous workplaces – even the small business I ran.
The past year has been another period of adjusting to a new leadership style, thanks to a succession plan that has been put in place. I am privileged to be a small part of the process, simply because I report directly to the current president, who will be making way for a new one at some point. And while both men are similar in many ways (they are engineers), they are very different personalities.
This balance of needing to internalise a new leadership style, yet cementing my own to provide stability, is proving to be my new challenge as I approach my second decade in this job. I have always drummed home to my team that we should never ‘tether’ ourselves to a boss so tightly that when he/she eventually leaves, we end up ‘lost’. Rather, we should work hard to establish our own footing (internal reputations) so that regardless of who our boss is, we are recognised solely based on our own capabilities. So when a new leader says, “Do it my way”, it is not a given that I may immediately ‘toe the line’. And even as I lead my team today, I don’t expect everyone to simply follow my tune; especially when half the team are made up of millennials.
Brothers and sisters, in life we hardly get the opportunity to choose our leaders. Yet, when it comes to Jesus – loved by a few but despised by hordes, betrayed by one of his own, condemned to a demeaning and horrible death – He gives us a choice; and by all accounts, a tough act to follow in more ways than one. Yet, our church was built on the blood, sweat, tears, unwavering faith, undying love of those who steadfastly followed Christ; and all those who came after. His was a leadership style that was emulated and proclaimed everywhere the disciples set foot.
There was no need to ‘adjust’ every few years because the basic tenets were the same – love one another as I have loved you…love your enemies…turn the other cheek. In choosing to follow Christ, I have come to the realisation that even in our secular organisations, taking the same approach to leadership may just be the trick. And that His call to ‘follow me’ is more than just one of obeying and doing as we are told. It is a call to lead and to serve others, just as He did more than two centuries ago. Has his model of leadership stood the test of time? Well, I followed and learnt from more than a few so-called industry leaders/gurus in my previous careers – albeit mostly what NOT to do as a leader. All I can say is that there is no greater, more inspiring leader than the Son of God himself, Jesus Christ.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Loving Father, we ask for you to inspire and grace our leaders with the wisdom, foresight and benevolence necessary to take us through these most difficult of times. Rekindle in all of them the fire of your love so that they may make the right decisions for the sake of those who follow them.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord for your infinite love, mercy and compassion.