Magazine article Momentum

Principled Ministry: A Guidebook for Catholic Church Leaders

Magazine article Momentum

Principled Ministry: A Guidebook for Catholic Church Leaders

Article excerpt

Principled Ministry: A Guidebook for Catholic Church Leaders Loughlan Sofield, ST, and Cartoli Juliano, SHCJ Foreword by Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond Ave María Press, Notre Dame, Indiana 2011, 141 pages, $16.95 (paperback) ISBN 10-1-59471-263-8

Neither a how-to manual nor a comprehensive theory, "Principled Ministry" is an easyto-read collection of 30 leadership principles. Written by Trinitarian Brother Loughlan Sofield and Society of Holy Child Jesus Sister Carrol! Juliano, the text is subtitled "A Guidebook for Catholic Church Leaders." Positive and negative examples illustrate each of the 30 principles, describing gifted leaders who followed the principle or less-successful leaders who ignored it. "Principled Ministry" offers common sense for experienced ministers in parishes, religious communities and Catholic charitable and educational institutions.

After an introductory chapter on Jesus as the Pre-eminent Model for Church Leadership, the book groups the 30 principles within four chapters: The Self-Defined Leader, The Discerning Leader, Tasks, Functions, Roles and Skills of Principled Ministry and The Leader as Change Agent. The presentation is not cumulative. The reader can understand later principles without reference to the earlier.

Some of the principles are selfevident, such as "Be comfortable with conflict"; "Facilitate, don't dominate"; and "Avoid ambiguity." Other principles have an ironic edge. We read, for example, that principled leaders "Avoid niceness" (a reminder that honesty is the best policy). Leaders "Act like a chameleon" (i.e., they show a willingness to try something different when a course of action proves unsuccessful). They "Stay with the pain" (because it can motivate healthy change). Less principled leaders want to be liked at all costs.

Among the leadership principles, some seem downright cryptic. The principle "Think tenses," for example, will puzzle readers until they learn that it is a plea to focus on what is (rather than on what was or will be). Another seemingly cryptic principle is "Feed and frustrate." It means that good leaders take their cue from the workplace situation and provide direction (feeding) but not too much direction (which is frustrating).

Sofield is senior editor of Human Development magazine and the book presumes a high level of psychological expertise. …

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