Last week was historic in the history of the 2000 + year old church. A non-European was chosen as the spiritual leader for at least 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. Hailing from South America, this seemingly selfless cardinal (eschewing the comfort of living in a mansion and having a chauffeur) sent a statement to the world that the Christian message is all about serving rather than being served. That simple Christ-like message embedded in his new papal name is quite remarkable.
What seems to appeal most to the masses is his humility; his choice to be one of the people needing prayer (he asked for everyone to pray for him), and using the startling papal name outside the traditions of his predecessors, Francis I.
The pundits were caught off guard by his choice of the name Francis. Of the 265 popes throughout the history of the church, none had been so bold as to use that name. The name of Francis is very significant as it speaks to the life of a monk, Francis of Assisi, never ordained as a priest, who chose to serve the poor and to let his life be of service to God and others. He was not clergy, he was called. The Prayer of St. Francis is often quoted and loved by followers of Jesus Christ.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,Where there is hatred, let me sow love;Where there is injury, pardon;Where there is doubt, faith;Where there is despair, hope;Where there is darkness, light;Where there is sadness, joy.O Divine Master,grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;to be understood, as to understand;to be loved, as to love.For it is in giving that we receive.It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.
Although I am not in the Roman Catholic tradition, I love the smoke signals Pope Francis is sending to our world. His papal name and attitude remind us that Christian leaders have been called to serve rather than to be served, to give when others don’t give, to love even when we are unloved.At C3 Leaders we encourage business leaders to discern their call and to make a difference in our world. Historical figures like Francis help us see the way…to serve rather than be served.
Jonathan L Sharpe Executive Director