Lenten Leaders Series: Leaders Speak with Authority

Week 4: The third week of Lent
By: Matthew F. Manion
President & CEO

Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, "All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me."

At this, Jesus said to him, "Get away, Satan!"

After the third temptation in the desert, Jesus spoke with authority and rebuked to evil one.  Later in the gospels, Jesus gives similar authority to the first disciples.  As Catholic leaders living in a very secular world today, it can be difficult to speak with authority about our beliefs, but as modern disciples of Jesus, we must find the courage and conviction to do it.

Best-selling author, Pat Lencioni and I have talked about this challenge and realized that the key is to speak the truth with love.  Many leaders are so focused on the proclaiming the truth, that they do it in a harsh, condemning, critical way that alienates most of their audience.  Without love, they become what St. Paul called a "clanging gong," and the message never gets through.  On the other side, many leaders are so focused on accepting and loving everyone they encounter and are so fearful of offending anyone, that they deny others the opportunity to hear the truth and potentially change their minds.

Missionary disciples can speak with authority because they have the truth of Gospel and they present it with love.  They are accepting enough to withhold judgment at first and can meet people where they are. And they love others enough to invite them to move from where they are now into the fullness of life we can only know in Jesus Christ.

Leadership Tips: When you feel called to speak with authority on a challenging topic:

  • Invoke the Holy Spirit: Pray to the Holy Spirit for the wisdom to know what to say and the courage to say it.
  • Seek to Understand: Meet the other person where they are and seek first to understand their point of view.
  • Share the Truth in Love: Choose to love the other person enough to share the truth of Jesus Christ with them and give them the opportunity to move to a new point of view.