My children’s club cricket presentation night was much the same as every other year: excited kids, party pies and a room filled with tired but content parents on a Friday night… with one key difference. This past season for the first time in the club’s history, they fielded a junior girls’ team. Amidst the celebrations at Presentation Night there was a sense that we were witnessing a moment of great significance, a movement forward. What caught my eye though, and captured my heart, was the young girl standing and staring at the ‘grown-up’ girls of aged 12 as they received their medals and trophies. She was in awe and her desperation to be part of this new movement was palpable. As I watched her, the thought that entered my head was ‘you can’t be what you can’t see.’
As a moment it stands in stark contrast to the disappointment of a cricket-loving nation at the poor judgement shown by our test side in deciding to cheat during a recent test match in South Africa. ‘What does it matter, it’s only a game?’ we may well ask, however young sports fans take their role models where they find them. It has left me wondering about the vacuum in moral leadership on show to our young people. There are so many examples from within Australian politics that leave me despairing, but most especially the recent denial of urgent medical care to a suicidal refugee child on Nauru. Global politics does not seem to be faring much better, with the revolving door of staff at the White House and murder of former Russian spies appearing more like plot lines of a Le Carré novel than our every-day reality. The current leadership model seems to involve a ‘win at all costs’ attitude with total disregard for the common good. This puts the phrase ‘you can’t be what you can’t see´ in a worrisome light.
When discussing the 2018 theme of Hope: Bringing a Sense of Purpose with the leadership team of St Joseph’s College, the insight was shared that it’s up to us to be ‘people of hope’ for our communities. This has certainly been evident as we have explored this theme throughout Term 1: network meetings for Principals, Leaders of Community Works, Faith & Mission Leaders and Justice Coordinators, induction for New Staff and New Leaders, and the Educating for Justice Seminar for Social Justice Leaders in our schools. If indeed ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’, then those within our communities are very fortunate to be in the care of staff whose absolute commitment to the mission drives their leadership.
Never is this more alive to us than during Holy Week. This reflection by Jan Richardson (© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com) captures the very model of leadership as service embodied by Jesus, God’s mission of love incarnate:
“Holy Thursday draws us to the table, in the company of Jesus and the disciples as he begins to speak his final words on this side of his dying. The disciples will not understand everything Jesus has to say, will not be able to comprehend fully the import of what he is telling them, but his words will sear themselves into their hearts nonetheless. These are the words that will return to the disciples later, in that bewildering time known as ‘after’. These are the words that will comfort them and also stir their courage for the path that waits for them still. But for now, they, and we, are at the table. As the night unfolds, we will see that the word at the centre of Jesus’ vocabulary is this: Love.
But, as the disciples will hear Jesus say at the table, such a grace is not reserved solely for them. They are to pass the gift along: to enact this word, to live this word, to give flesh to this word in this world.
This is my commandment, Jesus will say to them a little later as they linger at the table, that you love one another as I have loved you (John 15.12).
As we approach the table this week, how will we listen for the love that meets us there? How will we allow ourselves to receive the gift and the grace of this love? When we leave the table, how will we carry this love with us? How will we enact this love, giving it flesh for the life of the world?
Mission Leader- Kildare Ministries