Chaplain’s thoughts … Saint Patrick leadership lessons


Bring on the March Madness! I think March is great. It is full of all kinds of official/unofficial holidays. I am looking forward to Pi (π) Day on the 14th, because it means free pie, of which I am a huge fan, and it is the only day most of us celebrate math (or use it, since we always said ‘We will never use this ever!’). The Ides of March lands on the 15th, which is something we never thought we’d have to remember from literature class, but it is the day Julius Caesar was assassinated (so beware, according to Shakespeare). Don’t forget spring equinox, spring break, Feast of Purim, spring training and many more.

Two of my favorite events happen to be on the same day this year, the NCAA Selection Sunday (let the madness begin, brackets here we come!), which also lands on Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17. I am not Irish nor Catholic, but like many Americans, I will probably don green clothing (embedded into my mind because the 17th is also my sister’s birthday, and she would pinch me all day if I did not wear green!) So while filling out your brackets, wearing green, and getting Shamrock shakes, maybe take some leadership lessons from Saint Patrick himself.

Patrick was taken captive by the Irish when he was 16 in the mid-5th century England. He was trafficked into forced labor and hardship. He managed to escape after six years of captivity. Upon returning to England and being reunited with his family, Patrick felt called to serve and love those who tormented him. Leadership lessons from his diary Confessio:

• He gave his life to serve others (even his enemies). Even while still a captive, Patrick later recounted his thoughts that he “would spend my life, if I were worthy of it, to serving them in truth and with humility to the end.” We see the true humility it takes to serve an enemy.

• He devoted all his energy to his mission. “I spend myself for you … I have travelled everywhere among you for your own sake, in many dangers.” He faced death numerous times, carrying out the mission he had initiated. His faith carried him through hard times.

• He did not seek praise for his labor. “Nor would I write to you looking for your praise, nor out of greed – it is not that I hope for honor from any of you for myself. It is the honor which is not yet to be seen … which is what gives me satisfaction.” All too often we may only perform in order for others to give us good feedback, but a leader like Saint Patrick worked for what he believed in.

Saint Patrick serves as a great example of “service before self.” We all have been wronged or mistreated in a variety of ways whether home, work, or by family, but we can take a lesson from his character to see how he loved his enemies and served their needs. For more information, or to speak with a chaplain, call the Luke Air Force Base Chapel at 623-856-6211.