By Dr. Dan R. Ebener

Yeshua Institute Fellow

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles by Dan Ebener on leadership in the Catholic Church. They are excerpts from his latest book, Pastoral Leadership: How to Lead in a Catholic Parish.

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Pastoral leadership is a vocation. Anyone can be called to leadership. It is part of what Lumen Gentium called “the universal call to holiness,” a phrase quoted by our last seven popes.

Recognizing this universal call raises the hope that the challenges of leadership can be embraced by clergy and laity – and that change will happen in the church and the world.

Viewed separately, leadership and management are necessary but not sufficient. Viewed together, they offer a recipe for success.

  • Leaders deliver strategy. Managers develop structure.
  • Leaders promote change. Managers provide security.

Management provides structure in our lives. Leadership promotes life in our structures.

Someone else can appoint you as a manager. But no one can appoint you as a leader. You can be promoted into a position of authority. But leadership is your choice.  

Managers, teachers, parents, coaches and pastors can and do practice leadership at times. However, they are not leaders per se. Leadership is not ex officio. We do not become a leader simply because we hold a title or position.

My definition of leadership is “a voluntary, interactive process that intends adaptive change.”

Leadership begins when you feel passionate about changing something. You invite, influence and inspire others around you to join you in a change effort. When they begin to join you – voluntarily join you – you are leading!

If you are at the top, the people will most likely proclaim you as a “leader.”. Just remember that being promoted to a position of authority does not make you a leader. You must choose leadership.

NEXT ISSUE: Leadership is a relationship

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