By Owen Phelps, Ph.D.
Director, Yeshua Institute
A central concern of Yeshua Institute leaders – as well as of participants in our Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus S3 Encounters -- is how do we all sustain our enthusiasm and commitment to being and growing as Jesus-like Leaders.
As the typical Encounter winds down, participants are excited about what they have learned about becoming Jesus-like S3 Leaders. They tell us in person and they tell us in their evaluations, where many express their firm commitments both to learn more and to practice what they’ve learned with a newfound passion.
But then a few weeks or months pass and that passion and focus slip away. People are still drawn to the idea of becoming Jesus-like Leaders. But their passion and commitment get drowned out by the pressing demands of everyday learning.
Before long the Encounter experience is just a distant, if fond, memory.
So facilitators and participants alike ask the same question: How can we make the euphoria and energy that people have at the end of an Encounter last for months and years – ideally, a lifetime – powerfully shaping our interactions so that Jesus is ever more present in the world through us?
Phil Hodges, co-founder of the Lead Like Jesus Movement, has a suggestion – and it may be the best one ever in terms of providing a stickiness that sustains our commitment to being Jesus-like Leaders long-term.
Hodges proposes that Encounter participants form “accountability groups” that meet regularly to help their members stay on track as they strive to be ever better Jesus-like Leaders.
And Hodges knows whereof he speaks. For several years he has been part of such a group, where members hold themselves accountable for how they are seeking to be, in Pope Francis’ words, “missionary disciples.”
That means they ask each other substantive questions and answer honestly, trusting one another to be helpful in each member’s continued growth and development.
Encounter not a prerequisite
It’s great if all of the members of your accountability group have participated in an Encounter. But it is by no means necessary.
In fact, Phil’s own accountability group dates back to long before he co-founded the Lead Like Jesus Movement.
All that’s required is that members would like to build lives ever more consistent with Jesus’ teaching and example.
When accountability groups get together, here are the questions the members address at each meeting:
1. Since our last meeting, have you maintained a daily practice of prayer and time in God’s word?
2. Have you treated your peers, coworkers and employees as the objects of God’s affection?
3. Have you allowed ego or fear to drive your leadership decisions?
4. Have you maintained a healthy balance between work, family, community and personal time?
5. Have your spouse or other people important to you experienced your appreciation?
6. Have you compromised your integrity in any way?
7. Have you missed an opportunity when an apology or forgiveness was appropriate?
8. What one sin plagued you in your spiritual journey this past week?
It’s not difficult to realize how the prospect of meeting with one’s accountability group affects how one behaves all week or all month long. As a member of a group, one is actually accountable to its other members not just at meetings but all the time.
Of course, if one is unable to pull together a group, the questions make a fine personal examination of conscience regarding how one is doing in trying to be a Jesus-like Leader.
But ideally, we all can become part of accountability groups that help keep us mindful of and faithful to our commitment to be and to grow as Jesus-like S3 Leaders.
Copyright © 2017 Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute