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How To Love People

“What is the spirit that guides our Franciscan way of relating to people? Article #13 of the Rule sets forth a number of qualities:

A gentle spirit

  1. A courteous spirit

  2. Accept people as a gift

  3. Accept people as an image of Christ

  4. Place ourselves on an equal basis with people

  5. Recognize people's worth...”

Sometimes we forget what we learned in Franciscan Journey (p. 227). Our culture teaches us that success belongs to those who are strong, dominant, even violent in relationships. The messages come from all directions. “Nice people finish last.”

But when we made our professions we chose a different way. What does it mean to have a gentle and courteous spirit, to accept people and recognize their worth, seeing others as equals? It means that if our leaders do not do these things, who will we look to? Who will be our guides?

Our Order teaches that servant leaders guide and animate (energize, bring life to) our comunities. Not by pushing our plans and agendas, but by listening and asking questions. What do our seculars need? Where can we find resources and teachers? How do we assess our progress as fraternities and as unique persons? Not by demanding or bullying. Not by making people feel bad or small. We talk to each other. Many times we wait and pray. We try to make thoughtful decisions, to plan as teams, to join together in work and prayer at least for a little while each month so that the holy Spirit has a chance to transform us and make us into Gospel people.

“A gentle person understands that people are not perfect. Not all our choices are life-giving. Therefore, our reaction to other's poor choices is one of acceptance of the person without giving approval to poor choices.

It sounds difficult, but every parent knows that a child needs to feel approved, wanted and valuable before the lessons of life can take root. Experts in dialog always prepare the ground before they plant ideas and suggestions.

If you want to know more about the spirit that guides our way of life, please find your Journey book and re-visit Chapter 21, How To Love People. It's who we are. It's what we learn to do.


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