KOTA KINABALU – Servant leadership begins with the natural tendency that one wants to serve, and therefore, a servant leader is a servant first. Servant leader comes from the willingness to put others first, just like any parent does for their children.
188 appointed church leaders coming from the various zones under St Michael’s parish congregated at the newest meeting venue available in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, the Catholic Archdiocesan Centre Hall at Jalan Sang Kancil.
To the parish leaders assembled for the Mar 19 seminar, KK prelate Archbishop John Wong underscored “If you want to be a leader, you have to be a servant, only then can you shine…only then the Light of Christ will shine through you.”
He elaborated “Servant leadership comes from the deep strength manifested by Christ shining through you when you live with the joy and the true meaning of serving the church.”
He said this after presiding the Eucharistic Celebration to conclude the day-long Parish Leadership Seminar organized by the Penampang parish.
The archbishop further emphasized the role of servant leadership, saying, “As one orientates towards service, the act of self-giving must be renewed constantly. We must take care of ourselves in order to be able to give ourselves to others.”
Parish priest Fr Wilfred Atin echoed the eagerness of the leaders in looking forward to the seminar in his opening remarks “After slowing down for about two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, a good refresher is needed to revitalize ourselves to serve the church and to help our people to move forward.”
Anthony Lim, chairperson of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, was the main speaker. Himself a prominent leader in the archdiocese, he was in a position to help the participating parish leaders to understand what “servant leadership” entails.
He stressed that leadership is a call to ‘Servanthood’. To be a servant in the Lord, one must make Jesus as “role model”, referring to the Lord’s infinite love and sacrifices throughout His ministry journeying from his death and to his resurrection.
It is therefore important to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to remain sustainable in leading and serving the church with a broad understanding of the principles and fully living out the words ‘Melt Me’, ‘Mould Me’, ‘Fill Me’ and ‘Use Me’ in the hymn “Spirit of the Living God”, Lim underlined. The hymn is an invocation to the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, for spiritual strength to face whatever challenges and circumstances in life.
Among other vital factors of what constitutes a strong leader in the service of the church is by looking towards the ‘Holy Family’, suggested Lim. He urged the participants to look at the humble examples of St Joseph as the foster father of Jesus, the Son of God, and the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Mother of God.
He underscored that the leadership shown by St Joseph in taking care of the Holy Family was extraordinary in his passion as a father, which includes providing food, shelter and protection to Jesus and Mary.
The parish leaders who attended the seminar came from across the whole parish under St Michael’s, comprising 11 zones of 20,000 faithful. They are from a mixed demographic location under the Penampang district including the remote outstation zones of Terian and Buayan.
Present at the seminar were Fr Jeffri Gumu, Fr Andrew Kim, Sr Dora Obod, Sr Maria Banting, Sr Imelda Akang and seminarian Bradley Belly.
By JJ (Soccom Penampang)