25 August, Wednesday – Slaves to love

Aug 25 – Memorial for St. Louis of France, married man; Memorial for St. Joseph Calasanz, priest, religious founder

As king of France, Louis (1214-1270) made numerous judicial and legislative reforms. He promoted Christianity in France; established religious foundations, aided mendicant orders, propagated synodal decrees of the Church, built leper hospitals, and collected relics.

“In prosperity, give thanks to God with humility and fear lest by pride you abuse God’s benefits and so offend him.” – St. Louis IX

St. Joseph Calasanz (1556-1648) and two fellow priests opened a small, free school for poor children. He was supervising several teachers and hundreds of students. When the school moved to larger quarters, the teaching priests were reorganised into a community recognised as a religious order called Le Sciole Pie (Religious Schools), also known as the Piarists, or Scolopii or Ordo Clericorum Regularium Pauperum Matris Dei Scholarum Piarum or Order of Poor Clerks Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools; Joseph acted as superior of the Order.

The community encountered many obstacles. It was dissolved, then reorganised after Joseph’s death. They were restored as a religious order in 1669, and continue their good work today.

  • Patron Saint Index

1 Ths 2:9-13
Mt 23:27-32

…slaving night and day so as not to be a burden on any one of you…

I have been having an ‘interesting’ time at work for the past few weeks, with the impact of two resignations, a planned senior leadership succession taking place and a few high-level visits being planned for. As a result of one resignation, I am ‘taking over’ and managing three senior staff who need a fair bit of guidance and leadership, which I feel they did not benefit from under their previous director.

Of course, the hiring of said director is fully on me. I brought the person in more than a year ago, hoping that he/she would instil some discipline and a whole lot of process into the day-to-day matters of running the division. Let’s just say that he/she took it to one extreme where things started to become ‘paralysed’ and it resulted in one of our more valued junior staff deciding that his future lay elsewhere. As the situation became more ‘untenable’, the straw that broke the camel’s back occurred when I decided to take on a task on behalf of the director because he/she said they could not handle it. My natural response to him/her was, “Then I will do it. Let me handle it and relieve you of the burden.”

That didn’t go down well and, thankfully, he/she decided to resign. The thinking was that our views on how the division should be run did not align. So now, I find myself back to a situation that was similar two years ago, when I was mentoring a weak performer and trying to hold a small unit together, dealing with the complexities back then. Only now, things are even more complex, with new senior management, new expectations and new ‘players’ to deal with at the senior level.

So for the past few weeks, I found myself waking at odd hours, with thoughts swirling around in my head, unable to go back to sleep until I put something down on ‘paper’ (MSWord actually), or checked in on emails and replied or gave approvals on work matters. I told my SD that it felt like the time I was back in the Middle East, more than a decade ago, when my waking, and sleeping, hours were consumed with work.

I found myself wondering how St Paul must have felt when he went about spreading the good news and writing letters to those he felt needed it. Especially the verse that struck me today…which is what being a servant leader epitomises for me — taking on duties/responsibilities so as not to be a burden to others. I truly believe that it is not for me to ‘arrow others’ or sit in my office like some overlord and direct my team to do this and do that. Rather, I have to demonstrate how things are done in order for others to learn how to get things done. Only then, can they infuse their own thinking and ways of doing things to suggest improvements or institute processes.

Brothers and sisters, we all struggle at times, to convince others that our way is the ‘best’ way or that we know better, until someone else proves us wrong. What’s important for those of us in positions to influence is that our intentions are pure, honest and clear. That what we do, how we do it and why we do it a certain way is because we have been down a few roads before and encountered enough obstacles, fallen enough times and picked ourselves up countless times to know what works, and what doesn’t. Yet, at the same time, we need to also accept that one day, someone else will come along and find a better way, propose a process that you never thought possible.

That is when the true mark of a leader surfaces — knowing when to step aside, knowing when to say ‘I am done’.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

PrayerFather, help us to recognise the good in others and to always be there for others when they fall. Give us the heart to be a true disciple of Christ, always supporting, encouraging and learning from others as they struggle themselves to fulfil their responsibilities at work, at home and in ministry.

ThanksgivingWe thank you Lord, for the apostles, and all those who have come after them, spreading your Word by leaving their homes and preaching to those of us who yearn for it each and every day.

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