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Legatus Magazine

Cover Story
Patrick Novecosky | author
Oct 01, 2011
Filed under Columns

Servant leadership

Editor Patrick Novecosky says there’s more to Jesus than meets the eye . . .

Patrick Novecosky

I’ll never forget a couple of years ago standing at the spot where Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. I was there for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Jordan, and the group of journalists I was traveling with arrived a few hours ahead of the Pope.

While I was waiting, I reflected on why Jesus chose to be baptized at all. John the Baptist himself pondered this question. After all, we’re baptized to wash away original sin. We’re baptized into the death of Christ that we may one day rise as He did. Jesus had no need of those things.

As it turns out, there are many reasons why Jesus wanted to be baptized — to be obedient to the Father, to make the water holy and to elevate baptism to a sacrament. But what struck me as I gazed at the humble structure erected over the Jordan River is that — like many things Jesus did — he was baptized as an example for us to follow.

Jesus led by example. He didn’t ask his followers to do anything he wasn’t willing to do himself. In fact, one of the first things he said when building his team of disciples was, “Come, follow me.” He wasn’t only asking them to go for a walk, he was beginning a process of formation — forming men who, empowered by the Holy Spirit, would form the Church.

The older I get, the more I’m inspired by Jesus’ leadership style. A lot has been written about “servant leadership” in the last decade — and for good reason. It’s modeled on the type of leadership that our Lord lived perfectly. Jesus made it clear that “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28).

Likewise, we are all called to serve. As a husband and father, I’m trying to follow Christ’s example. In confession many years ago, a priest told me that the first thing I should do when I come home from work is ask my wife, “What can I do for you?”

I’ve failed to do that more times than I’ve succeeded, but it’s still my goal to have that servant-leader attitude at home — and at work. It’s a high standard, but one worth striving for.

Similarly, Catholic CEOs set the tone in their workplace. If the boss sets a high moral standard, everyone will soon understand that they’re expected to meet that standard. However, if a leader demonstrates that a low moral standard is acceptable, most of those in his charge will lower their own standards of behavior.

Studies have shown that companies with a high standard for ethical behavior flourish, so leading like Jesus — servant, shepherd and steward — in our homes, businesses and community will not only lead to a flourishing of our faith, but also our companies, our communities and our families.

Patrick Novecosky is Legatus Magazine’s editor.


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