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Entries for July 2015

  Father Antonio Brandao, a Portuguese Jesuit, once submitted a list of 15 questions about the spiritual life to St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. The sixth question asked what method of meditation was the best. Ignatius replied by recommending the constant practice of seeking the presence of God. Here's what he said: "(People) should practice the seeking of God's presence in all things, in their conversations, their walks, in all that they see, taste, hear, understand, in all their actions, since His Divine Majesty is truly in all things by His presence, power, and essence. This ki...

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A new book appeared this month which offers the first extensive empirical data regarding the role of servant leadership in creating and sustaining vibrant parishes. Servant Leadership Models for Your Parish by Dan R. Ebener, Ph.D., reports on two studies conducted in the Diocese of Davenport (IA), where Ebener works part-time as the diocese's Director of Stewardship and Parish Planning and holds a full-time position in leadership studies at St. Ambrose University. The studies included: A Parish Life Study, which included a series of objective measures of all of the diocese's 84 parishes undertaken in 2005-...

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St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, knew what "overload" meant. Recognizing that it's easy for us to get so wrapped up in what we're doing that we forget why we're doing it, here's what he told his followers in the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus: "Make diligent efforts to keep your intentions right in all particular details. Always aim at serving and pleasing the Divine Goodness for its own sake and because of the incomparable love and benefits which God has [given] us, rather than for fear of punishments or hope of rewards, although you ought to draw help also from thes...

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  Every organization likes to think of itself as effective and innovative, but you don't have to be the latest reincarnation of Einstein to realize that's not true very often. Especially when it comes to being innovative, virtually all organizations could do better — and most could do a lot better. The problem is that innovation has to be fostered, but more often than not it's actually discouraged. Research on the topic points to several reasons for this. A few include: The value of becoming a "learning organization" focused on constant innovation is a relatively new discovery ...

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  By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute In the last issue of The Catholic Leader, we discussed some of the problems that arise in compliance cultures — where leadership sends the message that the chief expectation of followers is that they do only what they are told to do. This past month a friend sent us a book that outlines more problems in organizations that rely on compliance to achieve their objectives. Dr. Thomas Gordon, author of Leader Effectiveness Training but probably better known for his Parent Effectiveness Training book and programs, says the i...

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Work can be a prayer

Posted on July 13, 2015 in: Articles

Some things never change. Writing 500 years ago, St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, acknowledged that his followers often had difficulty finding time to pray. Although he insisted on the importance of making some time for prayer, he also offered another suggestion: Make your work your prayer. He advised people that if they maintained a desire for prayer while they worked, their work became a prayer because, ultimately, all that they were doing was to serve God. St. Paul offered similar advice when he wrote: "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God." ...

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Higher goals, better striving

Posted on July 13, 2015 in: Articles

Writing 500 years ago, St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, had some timely advice for us on the threshold of a new year and a new decade in a still new century. He insisted that just as any goal can motivate us, the higher goal of serving God should motivate Christians much more than baser motives like money and fame motivate other people. “Do not ever permit the children of this world to show greater care and solicitude for the things of time than you show for those of eternity. It should bring a blush to your cheek to see them run to death more unhesitatingly than you to life,” he admonished hi...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute Many leaders think their primary task is to get people to do what they want them to do. In a word, their goal is compliance. Compliance has its place. In every aspect of life, there are some things that must be done and some that can’t be done. The sooner people learn what these are and comply, the better and happier everyone will be. But compliance can’t be either the workplace focus or the basis of the leader-follower relationship.  We’ve all heard the phrase before, “Just do what you are told.&rdquo...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Catholic Leadership Institute When it comes to the popular notion that highly-effective leaders are charismatic figures, I've got good news and better news for you. First, the good news. It's not true that people who have what passes for charisma in our society — good looks and an outgoing personality — make any better leaders than the rest of us. At least that's good news for the vast majority of us who are never confused with Hollywood starlets or box office idols and who might finish second in a personality contest with Ben Stein. Now for the be...

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  Leaders need to know themselves — their focus and their bias. And to be effective they have to transcend these natural tendencies. That's the word from Gill Corkindale, an executive coach and writer based in London. He says that leaders tend to be either "In Leaders" or "Out Leaders." The former tend to focus on what's happening within their own area of operations. The latter tend to gaze beyond their own area of operations to the behavior of whole organization and what's happening in the external environment. This bias can be the result of natural personality traits, a...

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