Understanding the Source of His Influence and Impact
During his recent trip to America, Pope Francis addressed the U.S. Congress and the United Nations. And the truth is leaders of all kinds have a lot to learn from him.
Courtesy of iStock/neneos
Francis is enormously popular. But whatever we personally think about this particular pope—pro or con—or the Catholic Church, it doesn’t change the fact that he has been a standout leader worth studying.
What makes his leadership style so effective? Based on what I’ve seen and heard, I’d say it comes down to three primary elements.
Yes, there are many who will bash me for criticizing the Pope. He’s the “people’s Pope” after all and any dissent is somehow considered to be paramount to hatred. I don’t hate the Pope, nor do I hate all of his ideas. The way that he’s presented them and the solutions he’s proposing are preposterous, but there’s no need to go into details about that. You either see it or you don’t.
One thing that I agree with that most, even moderate conservatives, probably wouldn’t agree with is the idea of allowing religion to guide the political discussion. That’s not to say that I’m promoting a theocracy or the idea of allowing religion to influence policy, but the guidance that religious principles (and for me, those principles are reflected through the Bible) can bring to political agendas has always been one of the most important factors in the greatness of the United States until the last couple of decades.
It’s easy to allow the messenger to taint the message one way or another. For example, the silliness of the Pope insinuating that we should embrace amnesty and basically open the borders is easy for someone who lives behind an impenetrable wall. It’s easy knowing that a higher percentage of immigrants from Mexico and South America will be Catholic than the percentage of Catholics in the overall United States population. It’s easy when the numbers surrounding crimes perpetrated by illegal immigrants have been hidden since 2008.
On the other hand, the Pope’s attempt to instill a sense of morality within the value systems of America is a righteous cause even if his chosen causes such as climate change are not appropriate. There’s a reason that his call for other countries, in particular the United States, to help out with the migrant crisis in the Middle East and Europe ring hollow to me. The Catholic Church has the resources to solve the problem on their own without any outside assistance and it wouldn’t even register as a blip on their balance sheet, but that’s not their cause.
True change cannot come from a single individual, even one as influential as the Pope. For change to truly occur, there has to be a shift in the focus of citizens. We once allowed conservative Christian values to guide politics. This changed recently and the change has been clearly demonstrated as being for the worse. It’s not a particular candidate, a President, or a Pope that can make this happen. The shift has to happen within the people.
There’s a reason that the Obama Administration labeled groups such as “constitutionalists” and “evangelicals” as the primary targets of their watch lists. They realize that their agenda can only work if conservative Christians continue to remain relatively silent. We’re the juggernaut they don’t want to fight and sadly we have failed to act on their fears. In other words, they’re winning. We’re silent. We’re allowing the liberal- and atheist-agendas to keep us from rising up.
I’m not talking about a revolution. Some would disagree when I say we haven’t reached that point yet, but I believe that an electorate and an activist body that is willing to fight through standard political methods can still shift the country’s direction. In our current situation, “rising up” means allowing our proper Christian values to guide our actions. We can’t let our religious beliefs be secondary to other issues like immigration or tax reform. If we allow our Christian values to guide our votes and our actions, then individual issues will be addressed as a result.
Now is the time to truly vet out candidates. Where do they say they stand? Where do their actions now and in the past tell us that they stand? Talk tracks are easy. Actions are more telling.