One of the most attractive qualities that Jesus of Nazareth possessed was his authority and excellent leadership.


Fr Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist.
This column appeared on 4th February 2009

One of the most attractive qualities that Jesus of Nazareth possessed was his authority and excellent leadership. The Scriptures tells us that “He taught them with authority, and many were astonished by the signs that accompanied his teaching.” His Leadership and confident sense of authority was in stark contrast to the established leadership of the Scribes and Pharisees. His leadership and authority came from a sense of integrity and wholesomeness. Jesus not only talked a good talk but rather he walked a courageous pathway filled with compassion and love, a pathway that inspired others to follow. His Leadership was radical, different, challenging and inspirational.

Leadership is a hugely necessary quality. We have witnessed the great sense of hope and enthusiasm that has been generated, because of the inauguration of Barrack Obama, as President of the United States. So much attention and indeed crititisism has been pointed to our leaders in recent times. Much of this is because of a deep frustration and anger that those entrusted with such a task have not fulfilled what is expected. In this time of economic recession and uncertainty many of the institutions which are necessary in all our lives have been found wanting in terms of leadership, this is true regarding Church, Government, and Business. The Church has suffered from a death of leadership for years now. Crippled by scandal and its management of such crisis, Church leadership seems to struggle greatly in communicating a relevant and necessary message of hope at this time.

This lack of leadership is not just restricted to the Church. It seems to be a societal problem. Business is very short on strong leadership, the banks being a prime example. When our Country very badly needed a bank that resisted the intense pressure to grant high risk loans, none did so. The effect is now devastating with homes and goods being repossessed and thousands of young couples carrying the burden of massive debt. There is also a lack of leadership found among many we have elected into offices of Civic life and Government. One reason we are in our current mess is that we lacked leaders who were willing to say no in the good times. Why this lack of leadership at practically all levels? One is tempted to blame it all on those in charge. But maybe we all have to carry some of the responsibility. In the time of boom, we did not want to hear about limits. We didn’t want leaders who told us we couldn’t have it all.

In the Church, a generation has come of age which doesn’t want to hear much about morality, because it makes us all uncomfortable. Perhaps most of us priests are uncomfortable in preaching and living the radical message of the Gospel. A good leader has to risk unpopularity by making tough decisions when necessary. Leadership motivates and offers encouragement. This is surely a time when leadership is necessary in our Country at all, levels. I pray that a confident, bright and ambitious generation will also be blessed with leaders of integrity, courage and compassion.