TESTS OF A LEADER’S CHARACTER

Spiritual Direction for today from a thirteenth-century saint.

Christian leaders throughout history have found their character tested. How do I respond to a divided community or to those who oppose me? How strict should I be with those under my care? When should I correct and when should I forebear?

In the year 1256, these questions faced the newly selected governor-general of the Franciscans, a 36-year-old named Bonaventure. At the time, the movement begun by St. Francis was torn by dissension between those insisting on the austere discipline of St. Francis's original rule and those seeking innovations. Under Bonaventure's leadership, the order not only survived, but harmony was restored, and Bonaventure became known as "the second founder of the Franciscans."

Bonaventure identified six virtues essential for Christian leaders: zeal for righteousness, brotherly love, patience, good example, good judgment, and devotion to God. He called these The Six Wings of the Seraph, the treatise from which this article is condensed.

While Bonaventure (1221-1274) ...

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