I find it useful to read material some might consider out-of-bounds to gain some new insight as to an opportunity. I might read something non-Catholic to shed some light on something Catholic. I might turn to the secular business world to assist with ministry. Discipleship and music. Psychology and leadership. Some connections are logical and fruitful if one looks a little deeper.
I was researching another idea in a whole different vein when I ran across this piece on humility in leadership. Since arrogance is a big-time stumbling block for me, I read with interest Carey Nieuwhof’s five habits of pride/humility:
- Feeling Entitled/Thankful
- Taking the High Place/Taking the Low Place
- Close One’s Notebook/Learn From Those “Below” and From Those We Envy
- Liking the Spotlight/Turn the Spotlight On Others
- Addressing Before Confessing/Confessing First
You can check the link to get details, but a few things struck me on each point.
One, as a choir director, I’m not entitled to members for whatever reason I think I deserve them. People sacrifice many hours to rehearse music, then sing on weekends and holidays. I can’t imagine a leader in liturgy not repeating herself or himself ad infinitum to thank people who might otherwise be doing something good and fruitful: worshiping with their loved ones and on weeknights, attending to family or friends. I don’t think a generic “thanks” is quite enough. I thank people for showing up early on Sunday mornings to warm up their voices, and for doing an extra Mass, and at the end of practice I often thank them for their patience with me.
Two, this quote:
To wash the dishes or sweep the floor 4o hours a week is likely not the best use of a high capacity leader’s time, but an unwillingness to do it is a sign of pride. Nothing is ‘below you’ when you adopt a humble stance.
And on three, this one, in which Mr Nieuwhof calls out the quality of envy:
Because you’re basically insecure (most proud people are), you’ve also stopped learning from people you’re envious of.
An excellent distinction on point number four:
A humble leader actually rejoices in the success of others. A proud leader resents the success of others.
If you want to overcome envy and insecurity, do what proud people fear doing: push others into the spotlight. It will break the stranglehold of envy in your life.
This article wasn’t written by a guy in a sacramental church, but his insight on confession is one of the biggest takeaways for me.
Get in the habit of privately and publicly admitting your sins, and when you address the shortcomings of others, you will do it with a remarkable humility and grace.
I suppose one sign of a sense of sin and a charism for leadership (and especially prophecy) is the ability of a person to be a critic with “humility and grace.” In my role as a choir director, I also have to confront my own weaknesses as a musician. I ask, “Can I work to improve myself as I would wish my singers did the same?”