Friday, 15 November 2013

The Good Shepherd

Leadership in Faith and Light

            This is a presentation given to delegates at the Provincial Assembly in South Africa by Fr David Harold Barry SJ. David is the Chaplain for the Capricorn Province. The presentation was very instrumental in preparing the delegates for discernment. Its usefulness has gone beyond Capricorn and its no longer limited to discernment. I t has become a constant reminder of every Faith and Light leader on his her role.

A leader in Faith and Light is not a manager of something that already exists. His or her task is to propose something that is always beyond what we experience now.
He or she is like one of the ancient Hebrew prophets who announces the hope of Israel and puts their finger on those areas where the people are failing to grow.
The leader is like the Good Shepherd who “goes ahead of them” and the people follow because they “know his voice.” (John 10:4)

The leader knows Faith and Light, not only from the Charter and the Guidelines, but from their experience of entering into the life and pain of disabled people and their parents.
Like the Hebrew prophets the leader will be discouraged and frustrated; I will give up and “not speak in his name anymore.” But they will always feel that “fire burning in my heart”  (Jer 20:9) and will persevere in their role as shepherd and “proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it.” (2 Tim 4:1)

A leader may feel like Jeremiah, “I do not know how to speak. I am only a child.” But he or she will hear the Lord’s response, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child’, for you must go to all to whom I send you … Do not be afraid … I am with you.” (Jer 1:6-8)
A leader in Faith and Light will not be put off by the lack of funds, difficulties of travel, poor communications. Nor will he or she flag because parents and parishioners, minsters and priests, don’t understand.

A leader will struggle that at least this one community will flourish; that at least these few parents will understand, that at least these few disabled people will rejoice in a new found friendship and acceptance, that at least a few young people will be attracted to give their time to Faith and Light and discover “the hidden treasure.”

A leader will start at the bottom with one community and, with imagination and courage, nourish that community until the moment when all in the community rejoice and say “now we know.” (John 6:69)
Then the leader can turn to another and another, and gradually “one by one” (John 10:3) the family of Faith and Light is built up.

The leader, when harassed and frustrated, “will go up to Jerusalem” (Acts 15:2) and contact “the elders” in Faith and Light and seek help in how to proceed. They will not “run away” (John10:13) and neglect the communities and let them drift.
Johannesburg, 19 October 2013     

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