Art by Michal Splho
by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion
We all know the expression “What would Jesus do?” abbreviated to “WWJD?” and made infamous through a rubber bracelet campaign. On Monday night at the Girard House monastery, Sr. Karen Mohan and northside resident Bianca Franks, a graduate of the first season of the Salesian Leadership program, took this phrase and creatively tweaked it for their Salesian Spirituality presentation: “How would Jesus lead?” With this query abbreviated to “HWJL?” and printed on a slip of paper for our wrists, our room of 25 plus participants set out to reflect on Christ at the center of our lives and service work as leaders.
The question has had me spinning ever since: How would Jesus lead? (How do I lead?)
In the spirit of our co-founders Sts. Francis and Jane, who embodied a simple, gentle manner of leadership in and through their faith lives, we can all find little ways that we, too, exemplify leadership traits.
In order to respond to this, I first have to embrace the notion that I am called to lead, right? (This can be a daunting prospect, right off the bat, you know? Oh, the responsibility inherent in embracing a title or role as a “leader”!) In the spirit of our co-founders Sts. Francis and Jane, who embodied a simple, gentle manner of leadership in and through their faith lives, we can all find little ways that we, too, exemplify leadership traits.
For Marion, my partner in this reflective exercise, leadership was modeled through her simple act of driving two older parishioners to and from their appointments; in providing transportation, she takes time to be with these elderly neighbors and model a kind of gentle Christian presence. This kind of leadership is aligned completely with our foot-washing leader named “Jesus” don’t you think?
I turn to ways that I might exemplify such traits. I am praying for my own role as a leader – specifically within my family and larger community. I am praying for the grace and guidance especially as I hold larger issues that compel me to act or think –or lead? — in a new way.
I have been reading over a recent article in the Catholic Spirit about the theology of immigration conference that was held October 2 at St. Catherine’s University. This topic of immigrants -and how we frame the conversation using language that honors our common humanity — has me slowing down to consider the many facets of leadership in the US and reflect on the “HWJL” question.
Rev. Daniel Groody, C.S.C.
In Julie Carroll’s article she writes:
“According to Catholic teaching, a community should distribute its resources with consideration for the needs of its vulnerable members — including immigrants, regardless of legal status. This is called distributive justice, Father Groody explained. At the same time, individuals are charged with contributing to the common good to the best of their ability.”
I have no answers at the end of the day, but a lot of questions around this important issue of our time, and the way we are all called to lead. In this particular case, I choose to lead by consciously engaging in the conversation and holding compassionate space for others to join with me. I close with the following HWJL questions, in the spirit of Salesian Monday’s presentation:
- How would Jesus lead on this topic of immigration?
- How would Christ refer to a person who has crossed a border without documentation? What would He say or do to embrace the border patrol agents?
- What laws would our Lord of “forgive seventy times seven” enact or support?
- What am I called to read or study or engage in learning as a Catholic?
- Where are you in this litany of prayerful questions?