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Popular leadership literature and a host of studies make the point that trust is an important consideration in effective leadership. Leaders who prove themselves trustworthy are much more effective in achieving their missions than are leaders who don’t inspire or who actually undermine trust in others.

Trust is a unique thing in the material world because it has two seemingly opposite properties:

  •  It is the grease that lubricates fast, clear, synergistic interaction between people, making cooperation possible; and
  •  It is the glue that holds organizations together so that many people can work together on the same mission.

Trust, it seems, also pays huge, measurable dividends when it comes to parish leadership. In Why Catholics Don’t Give … And What Can Be Done About It author Charles E. Zech says, “trustworthiness is a critical element across the board in the relationship between a pastor and his parishioners. This is especially true when it comes to money.”

He cited a study that showed that parishioners who had high trust in their parish leadership’s financial decisions gave an average of $1,042 a year – 51% more than those who had low trust.

The good news, Zech reported, is that nearly two-thirds of Catholic parishioners surveyed placed a high level of trust in their parish leadership. The not-so-good news: that was the lowest level of any of the Christian denominations included in their study.

In any event, there is clearly room for improvement — and where it occurs, it should pay very tangible dividends.

Café Reconcile featured in AP story: opens Saints lineman’s heart

As Christmas approached and reporters went looking for heart-warming stories suitable to the season, an Associated Press correspondent put the work of Café Reconcile, a Catholic Charities ministry in New Orleans, front and center for readers of newspapers all around the nation.

Those who have attended a Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus Encounter will recognize the name and the ministry. Café Reconcile is featured in a video near the end of the program that shows that Jesus-like leadership not only works — but works with dropouts and juveniles who have been arrested. “When the video ends, a lot of the participants are wiping their eyes,” says Dr. Owen Phelps, who has facilitated dozens of Encounters.

The AP story was also one of growth and conversion for New Orleans lineman Zach Strief, who is a big fan of Creole cooking – especially the white beans and shrimp special on the Café’s menu. But he also appreciates that Café Reconcile has a larger purpose: giving troubled youth a second chance to succeed and become contributing members of the community.

It’s also helped the 6’7” 320-pound Strief grow and understand how blessed his own life has been. He learned about the Café when he and his wife Mandy were setting up a charitable foundation and looking for a cause to support. He was invited to one of the daily breakfasts for staff and program participants, where participants are encouraged to share what’s on their minds — including things that upset them and things for which they’re thankful.

It was a revelation for Stief – revealing a different world from the one he grew up in. One boy described how he was sitting on the coach the night before when suddenly a SWAT team broke down the door and took away his brother. "It's easy to not realize that's happening to people and maybe it's a 16-year-old kid, and maybe there's no one else there but his brother," Strief explained. "You don't think about that. I don't think anyone does that's not in that situation."
Another teen said he was thankful for the breakfast itself. "The thing that got me the first time I came. The stories that I heard at that breakfast were so different than I would have thought. They were so much worse," Strief recalled in the AP story.
As the video produced by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Communications Committee and shown in the Catholic Encounter explains, the Café’s training program begins with three weeks of life skills classes. Participants are taught basic skills: the importance of speaking clearly, projecting confidence, looking people in the eyes. After that they begin working in the Café, eventually moving up from washing dishes to waiting tables and even cooking. 
When they complete the program, they are given internships at respected restaurants and hotels, including the Ritz Carlton and places owned by celebrity chefs Emeril Lagasse and John Besh. 
The AP story reported that there is a waiting list to get into the program. And why not? It’s a second chance for young people to get started on becoming all that God intended them to be with the help of Jesus-like leaders who know for sure that God doesn’t make junk.
All of us here at the Yeshua Institute congratulate and thank all of leaders and participants who have ever been associated with the Café Reconcile program. We hope and pray you’ll keep up the good work!

Copyright © 2012 Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute, 208 E. North St., Durand, IL 61024. Any part of this newsletter may be reproduced so long as there is full attribution, our web site is listed, and any electronic reproduction includes a link to our site: http://www.yeshualeader.com.

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