- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
I was in attendance one Sunday recently at the 9:30 a.m. service at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Prince Frederick. I am not a member but had been attending with a significant other in an attempt to unite with her under one faith. That Sunday’s sermon focused on the power of faith and was being delivered that day by the Rev. Peter Daly. I have listened to Daly before many times and was happy to see him at the altar instead of a visiting priest (not a slam on the visiting priests, by any means). I like Daly. He is cheerful, upbeat and seems to relate to all members of the parish irrespective of their age, gender or profession. He has an infectious smile and ruddy-faced appearance that is very engaging.
As he began the sermon, I found myself listening intently and glancing around the church; it was apparent Daly had the undivided attention of the audience.
Similarly, across the river in Virginia, the Rev. Lon Solomon, lead pastor of the McLean Bible Church, demanded, in a seemingly effortless way, the undivided attention of his congregation.
Like Daly, Solomon relates to his congregation in a very easy-to-understand, likeable and relatable way. Solomon’s sermons are easy to follow and are delivered in an outline format punctuated by his trademark question to his minions, “So what?” In other words, we just heard the selected Bible passage’s chapter and verses, so how does that apply to our lives today?
So why do we “follow the leader?” Why do we listen so intently? How do these two men command our attention? What makes them the effective leaders that they are?
The first thing that I notice with these two speakers is that they share a true interest in their material. The subject matter they are presenting has been thoroughly researched, not only utilizing applicable text and source material, but additionally drawing from applicable life experiences and interactions with parish members and interactions with other members of society.
Second, they know their material. In the Mass I attended, Daly periodically flipped the pages of notes before him, oftentimes it seems without even glancing at the pages for a point of reference. ... Absent Daly’s insight and interpretation, I would have missed this important aspect of the reading. That’s what good leaders do: They see what we don’t see. They guide us, steer us along the right path toward our common goals, away from the danger areas.
Third, I think common ground with these two leaders is their ability to relate their message to us, almost as if they were one of us.
Fourth, Daly and Solomon are positive, glass-half-full leaders. They not only identify issues and challenges, but they present us with courses of action to follow — paths that are predicated upon our adherence to the shared beliefs and values of the organization they represent.
Finally, but most definitely not all-inclusive or a complete list, we get the feeling that these two leaders have a value system that they uphold, and that they have an awareness and sense of responsibility that rises above their own self-interest.
Daly’s exemplary record at St. John Vianney spans 16 years. Listening to one of his sermons, you become immediately aware of his vast knowledge, based both in his study of the Bible and other religious texts, but additionally his knowledge and education in world history, psychology, sociology and other applicable disciplines. In addition to his other duties, Daly is a regular contributor to the Catholic News Service. He is one of the most concise authors I have never encountered.
... This country is in a stage of crisis. The kind of crisis that will require strong leadership — leaders with the selfless sense of moral and community obligation that are evident in the character and actions of both Daly and Solomon.
Poor leadership (and lack of government oversight) in the industrial base, finance and the Real Estate industries (plus Wall Street), got us where we are today. If you haven’t seen the movie “Margin Call,” you should get it. ... It’s about leadership without morality.
... Good leadership is not about finger pointing, scapegoating or a “divide and conquer” mentality. Good leaders unite. That’s just what they do. Good leadership is almost always accompanied by a clear, concise message or platform. Despite the secular differences between the Catholic Church here in Prince Frederick and Lon Solomon’s Protestant Church in Northern Virginia, both leaders share a clear, common message to their congregations. It is the Christian message of selflessness, sacrifice and service to humankind and to community.
Before we elect our next round of political leaders, I think we must first ask ourselves, “Who are we and who do we want to be?” What are our core values and who will best represent them to the country and to the world? I say let’s think big picture — about community, about nation and not so much about getting mine and keeping mine. Contrary to what Gordon Gecko says, greed is not good.
During times of past national crisis, great leaders and great leadership have kept this country afloat and moving in the right direction. Lincoln kept the country united despite the most terrible war the country has ever seen. Roosevelt brought us out of the Depression, through a destructive political isolationist policy, to be finally united together with our western allies as the great victors of World War II. And lack of effective leadership in the 1960s and 1970s left the country in a kind of malaise and with an identity crisis that could only be resolved by another stellar leader, “The Great Communicator,” Ronald Reagan.
The common thread in all of these leaders was that they had an agenda that was not founded in self-interest, party affiliation or divisive politicking, but one that was based on a value system and a moral direction that was supported by a majority of the people. So why do we follow the leader? I think we know why. They are our salvation, the way to a better life. So will the next Abe Lincoln, Father Daly, FDR, Pastor Solomon, Ronald Reagan please stand up? We need you now.
David J. Reed, Lusby