Last week, I was with a group discussing the art exhibit controversy in the CCP. This led to a discussion on other divisive issues that involved the Catholic Church.
When it came to the RH bill issue, someone turned to me and asked, “What is your stand on the RH bill?” My response was what most people would say is a “safe answer.” I believe both sides have values worth integrating into the bill and this is what worries me. We are getting to a point where dialogue is getting more and more difficult.
Back in 1981, Roger Fisher and William Ury came out with the book “Getting to Yes, Negotiating Agreement without Giving In.” It used to be—still might be—standard fare for management, school administration and leadership courses. One of the basic tenets of the book is when one negotiates one should not do so on the level of each party’s stand. This will not lead to genuine dialogue and negotiations, much less agreement. The book purports that it is on the level of values that genuine dialogue and negotiations can take place and agreement can be forged.
This Sunday’s Gospel is often cited as one of the passages that establishes the papacy, the designation of Peter as the first leader of the church. Let me propose two points for our reflection on this Gospel: One, the designation of Peter as leader after responding to the question, “But who do you say that I am?”; and two, the “power” of the leader to declare “loose” and “bind.”
From the point of view of leadership, we see in the passage how a personal relationship with Jesus becomes the basis of Peter’s leadership. I often point out that when Jesus asks “Who do people say that I am?” none of the disciples give the correct answer. But when he asks, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter responds correctly—“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
This is a good lesson for us—leaders and followers. Each of us needs to come to terms with our personal relationship with Jesus and make a very conscious choice to enter this relationship. The quality of our personal relationship with Jesus becomes the quality of the way we will live our life, whether as a leader or a follower.
Ignatius of Loyola had a very wise advice to spiritual directors or retreat directors. He said that the mark of a good spiritual/retreat director is to sense when a directee or retreatant is at the point of developing a personal relationship with God. Once a directee or retreatant gets to this point the director gets out of the way and allows the relationship to develop.
This view of guiding people to a personal relationship with Jesus is a very central value of ministry and of leadership. This value is rooted in a more basic value that of respect for a person’s integrity and ability to make personal choices.
When I was teaching before I entered the seminary I always emphasized to my students that one of my success indicators as a teacher was at the end of my assigned time with them I should have made myself “useless” to them. They have no need for me as a teacher because I have taught them well.
Later on I saw how Ignatian education had this as a central philosophy in its Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm (IPP). The context of education and formation—and leadership as well—is relationships. Figure 1 shows this.
Figure 1 (based on the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm)
It is in this context of relationships where the follower develops a personal relationship with the vision and mission. The leader is supposed to help facilitate or develop this relationship. It is assumed that the leader himself/herself has a relationship with the vision and mission. Equally important is the relationship of the leader with the follower; a relationship of respect and care or love.
Peter loved Jesus. “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” (John 21) His response was what made him a good leader. He presided in love. Yes, he loosed and he bound in a way, I believe, that was always rooted and grounded in love, in Christ. As he dramatically tells the crippled man in The Acts of the Apostles, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, walk!”
To lead is to love. This is the power of the leader. His/her love leads others to love and be loving. To loose, to bind, to love.
A few nights ago, I was watching “Storyline.” It was an episode that tackled the CCP art exhibit controversy through the stories of artists—or mga alagad ng sining, servants of the arts. It pained me to hear the story of Direk Joey Reyes’ mother. The following day I sent a text message to direk Joey apologizing on behalf of the church for what was done to his mother. I apologized because she was done wrong—and so was direk Joey. I apologized because direk Joey is a good heart and a good soul. I apologized because I love the church and believe that we need to build it more and more into a community of love and compassion.
Now is a good time to start building this community. Perhaps we can start by building a community of respect. Listening to one another as we share what we value. We may differ. We may disagree in the process, but I pray we come to agreements without giving in but rather holding on to our deepest values.
Let us go back to the questions: “Who do you say that I am?” “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” In our responses to these questions lie our deepest values. I believe we will still see that we share these deepest values more than we seem to be divided.