Leaders Cultivate Meaning

written by Reginald Smith, Director of Diversity CRCNA

Augustine loved being a playboy and enjoying the fruit of high living. He had a good job teaching and life appeared to be going just peachy. Until strolling through the paved streets of Milan on a summer day in 386 A.D., his ear caught the voice of a young lad singing an unfamiliar tune, “Pick it up and read”.  For some reason, Augustine searched for a Bible and began to read. He turned his life over to Master Jesus and wrote a book about his life change named, “The Confessions of Augustine”.   

In the 14th Century, the poet Dante was in a hard place. He got kicked out of his hometown Florence and lived a nomadic life for some years. He felt like he had nothing to live for anymore. Once he accepted that Florence was no longer a place to find a life, he wrote a masterpiece named “The Divine Comedy”. He found what mattered after he let go of the old dream.

Both Augustine and Dante knew something in their lives was not working, something inside of them had collapsed. Both men were looking for meaning beyond their brokenness. New York Times columnist David Brooks nailed what happens when life bends into a dark road of pain and uncertainty. Referring to the pandemic, Brooks writes, “It’s the story we tell about this moment. It’s the way we tie our moment of suffering to a larger narrative of redemption. It’s the way we then go out and stubbornly live out that story. The plague today is an invisible monster, but it gives birth to a better world.” (The Meaning of the Plague, New York Times, March 30, 2020) Both men told a different story about their meaningful moment of resurrection. What’s the story you are telling in this pregnant moment in your life?  

Leaders are attuned and alert in telling the right story at the right moment for the right reason. Leaders cultivate an atmosphere of meaning and purpose because followers need them. The Lord told a frightened and uncertain Moses that he promised to be with him in his second career. Moses’ successor Joshua, who knew only about being second in command, was encouraged to be courageous. A dejected and disappointed Peter had the resurrected Lord restore his leadership with a broiled fish breakfast. Leaders take seriously their duty to remind people that their lives and vocations matter to Jesus’ kingdom plans. 

Brooks reminds leaders, “Without the inspiration of a higher meaning, selfishness takes over.” Mattering matters.