by Gilbert J. Gustafson, Leadership Development Consultant
“ALL THROUGH LOVE, NOTHING THROUGH FORCE.”-St. Francis DeSales
On a beautiful May evening we concluded the second year of our course on Salesian Leadership with a group of leaders from the North Side of Minneapolis who are determined to be part of the healing of the community. The warmth and sunny-ness of the day were perfectly echoed by the warm and tender feelings expressed in the closing of this year’s exploration of leadership using Salesian principles. This course was funded by the 2010-11 Answering the Call campaign. One of the priorities of the campaign was to “Provide lay leadership training in the tradition of the Order’s founders, allowing others to be involved in the evangelization of the Sisters’ ministry.”
This year we designed our monthly sessions to reflect on the leadership our participants provide in their families, at work and in the community. We explored styles of communication and how to deal with differences. We also examined how to be fully present to others. In the center of our season we introduced “Lectio Divina” (meditating on the Word of God) as a means of spiritual nourishment. In our first season we initiated Centering Prayer and made repeated use of this prayer form in season two.
At the final session we reflected on what has been learned and how we have grown in being a leader. Each participant spoke movingly of how she or he has implemented what has been learned. Each spoke of how she or he intends to continue to grow as a leader moving forward. At the end of the evening we commissioned one another to continue on as faith filled leaders by signing one another on our senses, hearts, shoulders, hands and feet. The combination of silent gesture and spoken word perfectly captured the truth that authentic leadership is lived out both in word and action.