Rev Fr S Obed Yimchunger
In the present era, we find ourselves amidst an unparalleled and intricate web of challenges, both on a global scale and, more acutely, within the intricate fabric of India. The ominous spectres of climate change and global warming cast a shadow on the very essence of humanity. Simultaneously, the surging tide of millions of migrants compounds the complexity of our global situation, ushering in a new era of challenges for the collective human experience.
Drawing our focus inward, the domestic landscape of India presents a disheartening panorama marked by exploitation, pervasive poverty, systemic injustice, and a disturbing surge in violence. The democratic pillars that uphold our societal structure, notably elections, appear to be losing their lustre as fairness and justice become elusive ideals. The sheer numerical dominance in Parliament translates into a swift passage of bills, side-lining the imperative for comprehensive discussions and consultations in both houses. What is particularly distressing is the calculated suppression of dissenting voices—either through inducement, intimidation, or, most grievously, permanent silencing. The autocratic ruling party, with its dismissive stance towards opposing views, undermines the very foundations of democratic principles.
Beyond the political realm, threats to economic stability loom ominously. Apprehensions surround the proposed New Education Policy, introducing an additional layer of uncertainty to an already precarious situation. The escalating number of unemployed youths paints a bleak picture of the economic landscape, while the alarming rise in violence against the dignity of women and children further exacerbates the challenges faced by our society. The brutal suppression or intimidation of dissenting voices, starkly contradicting the welfare of the people, is just one facet of the perilous situation unfolding in India.
These examples merely scratch the surface of the precarious scenario that engulfs our nation. It is imperative that we acknowledge the gravity of these challenges, recognizing the urgent need for collective action. Only through united and concerted efforts can we hope to untangle the complex web of issues threatening the well-being and progress of our nation. The path forward necessitates a resolute commitment to justice, fairness, and the safeguarding of fundamental human rights—a commitment that should resonate in the hearts and actions of every responsible citizen and leader.
In this challenging context, the mantle of leadership is not merely a position but a profound calling. As leaders, we are entrusted with the responsibility of cultivating a diverse array of characteristics and tools essential for effective leadership. These attributes go beyond the conventional realms, encompassing qualities that resonate deeply with the intricacies of contemporary life.
Emotional intelligence emerges as a cornerstone, a crucial tool enabling leaders to navigate the complexities of life's demands. The ability to understand and manage one's emotions, as well as empathize with others, is pivotal in fostering healthier interpersonal relationships and creating a conducive environment for collaboration.
Equally indispensable is stress management, an essential skill that guards against burnout. In the relentless pursuit of leadership goals, the ability to navigate stressors with resilience becomes instrumental. This not only ensures sustained personal well-being but also contributes to the longevity and effectiveness of leadership.
Time management is another vital facet of effective leadership. Leaders who master the art of optimizing their time resources not only enhance personal efficiency but also play a pivotal role in steering their teams towards achieving collective objectives.
Crucially, socio-politico awareness becomes a non-negotiable aspect of effective leadership. Leaders must be attuned to social issues, possessing a nuanced understanding of the political landscape. This awareness empowers leaders to address societal challenges proactively, ensuring that their missions remain relevant and impactful in the ever-evolving dynamics of today's world.
However, being a leader, or even a good leader, is not the ultimate aspiration. The true calling is to be a great leader, one who transcends individual accomplishments and works collaboratively with people of goodwill. Recognizing the inherent limitations of isolation, great leaders leverage the collective strength of their teams. They bring to the table not just experience and expertise, but also the wisdom to collaborate effectively, the courage to explore uncharted paths, and the discernment to distinguish right from wrong.
Character, an indispensable quality, defines a good leader. This, coupled with the ability to read the signs of the times, elevates leadership to greatness. Beyond personal accomplishments, a great leader's legacy lies in their capacity to instil these values in those they lead, fostering a ripple effect that extends far beyond their immediate influence.
As Christian leaders, an additional layer of responsibility is woven into our leadership journey. We are called to be rooted in love and freedom, derived from the teachings of our Master and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. These foundational principles guide our actions, infusing our leadership with compassion, humility, and a commitment to the greater good.
Without the genuine roots of love for humanity and a profound love for God, our endeavours risk becoming mere expressions of dry socialism, devoid of the transformative power that stems from authentic compassion. It is the intertwining threads of love for our fellow human beings and a deep connection with the divine that infuse our mission with vitality and purpose, transcending mere societal structures.
A mission devoid of love for God, our universal Father and Mother, lacks the spiritual depth needed to treat others as genuine brothers and sisters. It is through the lens of this divine love that we perceive the interconnectedness of all beings, fostering a meaningful and compassionate approach to our fellow human beings. Without such a foundation, our interactions may lack the profound empathy and understanding necessary for creating impactful change.
Only when our mission is imbued with love does it attain true significance, providing us with a profound sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. As leaders, especially as Christian leaders, it is our responsibility to illuminate the path for others, showcasing the transformative power of reaching out to those in need. Our calling is not merely to lead for the sake of authority but to guide others in cultivating a spirit of service, demonstrating that in the act of serving others, we discover the true fulfilment of our lives.
In extending a helping hand to those in need, we manifest the love for humanity and God that is at the core of our Christian ethos. It is through these acts of love that we unlock the latent potential for
positive change, fostering a sense of community and shared responsibility. As Christian leaders, our mission is not merely to manage tasks and responsibilities; it is to inspire others to embrace the profound connection between love, service, and the meaningful fulfilment of our lives.
In essence, our leadership becomes a conduit for the divine love that propels us towards a greater purpose. Through our actions, we illustrate that in serving others with genuine love, we are, in fact, serving God. This interconnected approach to leadership transforms our work from a mere task into a spiritual journey, where each act of kindness and service becomes a testament to the divine love that guides our mission.
The writer is Vice Principal (Students’ Affairs), St Joseph's College (Autonomous) Jakhama, Kohima.