The wisdom of St Benedict for leaders

Clare Condon

Is the achievement of leadership in any sphere about warfare and a battle? Is this the only way people can become leaders in our society, asks Clare Condon SGS.

- The Good Oil

As a leader of a women’s religious congregation in the Benedictine tradition, I regularly reflect upon Benedict’s idea of leadership as characterised in the person of the abbot. Recently, while on retreat, I had the opportunity for such reflection. It was the week after the change in Prime Ministers here in Australia.

Media headlines about the leadership of the country read like a war novel: “Revenge – Kevenge”, “Pride Wounded”, “Hostile Act”, “Leading the Charge”, “Bullied Out”, “Fresh Fire Using Gillard Ammo”, and “Rebuke”.

I became more alert to these headlines each day. And no matter what the topic, the values  that were being applauded seemed to constantly promote and encourage aggression, greed, undermining, contestation and violence, not necessarily by deed, but certainly by word.

Is the achievement of leadership in any sphere about warfare and a battle? Is this the only way people can become leaders in our society, whether it be in government, business, sport or even the churches?

Quite to the contrary, St Benedict, in his Rule, calls the leader of his communities to integrity, where words and actions are in harmony. He suggests strongly that candidates are chosen for “merit of life and wisdom”. He expects the same of every member of the community, so that civility and good order can result in supporting and sustaining good human relationships.

Benedict further notes: “He should not be restless and troubled, not extreme and headstrong, not jealous and oversuspicious… He should be farsighted and thoughtful… He should be prudent and moderate, extolling discretion, the mother of all virtues.”

FULL STORY The wisdom of St Benedict for leaders 

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