I do not know if the title of this writing is born out in everyday life but it should be. A good leader – someone who expects others to follow him or her – needs to lead by more than words and Power Point Presentations. A good leader needs to lead by example. An obvious example of this when it comes to the business world is that if a CEO expects his or her managers to be good leaders then he or she must be a good leader. For an organization to work well managers need to lay out expectations, terms of reference to their teams. An indicator that this will happen is if the CEO is doing this with his or her managers. The managers will lead others by the example that is given to them.
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us that Jesus went into the desert for 40 days and nights in order to prepare for his public ministry. While in the deserts he fasted and prayed. He did works of penance. Did he need to do these? No! Why did he do them then?
Jesus did works of penance for a number of reasons. Jesus is not just a good leader but a perfect one. Jesus will teach his apostles in the near future that they must do penance or perish.
Jesus did works of penance in order to show everyone in his time, and you and me, how to over come the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil.
Jesus did works of penance that we need to – united to Him – repair the damage cause by sin. Just as we work off a debt we incur by labor so we “work off” or repair the damage we cause by our sins by works of penance. The caveat is that these acts of penance are united to Jesus Christ.
Jesus did not need to do penance. Do you and I need to do penance? We sure do! We need to do penance for the reasons I’ve just laid out. While all of us need to be doing works of penance it is the leaders who need to, well – lead! Who are these “leaders?”
Priests (which includes Bishops and the Pope). We are spiritual fathers and leaders that Christ has chosen to be in positions to lead people to God. We need to do penance.
Husbands and wives who may be fathers and mothers. Children need to see the example of their parents doing penance and that works of penance are not things that make them miserable but actually more cheerful.
Teachers and anyone else in a position of leadership and responsibility needs to be doing penance. They don’t need to make a show of it (they shouldn’t) but it might come out and then they should not hide it.
So – as Lent begins let us take up the call of Jesus to live the three types of penance: 1) Prayer, 2) Fasting and 3) Almsgiving.
Lead by example!