Guest Post by Jared Tomanek
After reading many articles, researching tons of studies, preparing case studies, and attending more than my fair share of grad school classes, I have come realize there are basically three things. And I am going to leave you with that right there. Aren’t you glad you began reading this post?
Throughout life, we have been creating a blueprint of what we think a leader is. For the most part, leadership studies today haven’t really invented anything new, these new names are packaged old traditions that have been handed down to us. Consistently, I have found that ultimately it is Christ that is the measure of a leader. He is the canon, rule, standard in leadership studies in our post-modern culture even if the researchers, writers, and professors do not know it yet. The image of a leader is always Christ-like. This gives Catholics a special advantage because we should be schooled in leadership skills even if we did not know it.
So what is with the number three? Well first, three is a biblical number, three of this, three of that, and most of all three in the Trinity. A bishop and leadership innovator not too long ago named Eusebius (263-339) presented this wonderful munus triplex or Christ’s threefold office of priest, prophet, and king. In layman terms, Jesus was Head Substitute, Press Secretary, Chief Executive Officer which are all similar roles by today’s standards.
For a different audience, I might have to change the names, but they would be the same meaning. For example, most people would imagine a leader to be bold and willing to offer himself first. The idea that a person will go out and test the minefield, jump in the lake to see if it is cold, try the weird looking food, are all somewhat examples of a priest who offers sacrifice on behalf of others. “Priest” comes from the Greek “presbyteros” which means “older man” and even “parent” but also may have something to do leading cattle (pres-bous). Trustworthiness is commonly associated with leadership. One of the first questions a follower asks of a leader is, “Can I trust this person?” So we kind of expect the leader will not ask us to do something that he himself will not do. Even if the leader does not actually do the action, it must be believed that he would if necessary. And so we have this idea that a leader must be something like a priest. We see in Frodo Baggins as he takes it upon himself to destroy the One Ring.
A prophet has a different role than that of priest. The prophet is understood to speak. Pro is Greek for “before” and phanai is “to speak.” Generally, terms like seer or interpreter are associated with a prophet. As many leadership thoughts indicate, we expect the leader to speak or interpret the signs so that he will be able to navigate the way. Commonly, businesses create vision and mission statements. It is quite difficult to get to where you are going if you cannot see the route to get there. Mission and vision is that thing that sheds this light. Of course, in “Lord of the Rings” Tolkien presents us with Gandalf who has this prophetic quality to his character.
Lastly, followers seek someone with kingly skills and qualities. As is often the case, with leadership comes power of some sort and strategizing. The king must understand how to use power for the betterment of his people. The Latin rex can mean “lead straight.” The leader, as the king too, is expected to be able to command the tools and people with proper dominion and provide protection. Jesus Christ “has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church” and so is rightly the King of Kings. Qualities of leadership that are kingly would be similar to providing the right tools for a certain project, being the final say-so on complex matters, taking the organization where it is supposed to go, and giving defense. Just as Tolkien provided examples of priest and prophet, he also gives us Aragorn who is the king and protector of the fellowship.
Leadership is much more than just some of the above mentioned qualities. More than these exist, but more than likely each will fit snuggly somewhere in the munus triplex of leadership. Whether you call it “Priest, Prophet, King Leadership”, “Vicar, Magician, Sovereign Leadership”, or “Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn” these are basically the same thing with different names. Ultimately, we are looking for a leader that only Jesus Christ fulfills perfectly.