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  • John Kim

Jesuit Leadership

Job 33:4 “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” I recently started reading “Heroic Leadership: Best Practices from a 450-Year-Old Company That Changed The World.” The author, Chris Lowney, gave up a career as a Jesuit Priest to join JP Morgan where he eventually became one of the firm’s most senior executives. At one point, the House of Morgan started to implement 360 reviews for all employees, which was revolutionary in the business world at the time. But Mr Lowney remembered that the Jesuits had implemented this practice hundreds of years prior, and started to research a book on this and other lessons the business world might learn from this incredibly successful “company.” “Founded in 1540 by ten men with no capital and no business plan, the Jesuits built, within little more than a generation, the world’s most influential company of its kind. As confidants to European monarchs, China’s Ming emperor, the Japanese shogun, and the Mughal emperor in India, they boasted a Rolodex unmatched by that of any commercial, religious, or government entity… With exactly no experience running schools, they somehow managed to have more than thirty colleges up and running within a decade. By the late eighteenth century, seven hundred secondary schools and colleges sprawled across five continents. By one estimate, Jesuits were educating nearly 20 percent of all Europeans pursuing a classical higher education.” With 21,000 professionals running two thousand institutions in more than 100 countries, it has long since become the world’s largest religious order, largely on the back of its ability to identify and foster leadership amongst its ranks. “Heroic Leadership” outlines the four principles that allowed the Jesuits to do so, and today I just wanted to throw out the first of those… “self-awareness.” While I think God often calls us to do things that are outside of who we are or what we feel capable of doing, I’ve recently come to understand that knowing how God designed us is a necessary starting point for living and leading well. I’ll share a bit more about some of the revelations God has imparted in the coming days, but suffice it to say that I believe the Spirit of God has created us all beautifully. I’m excited to explore more of my identity and uncover more of my blind spots in the months and years ahead. Lord, I’ve felt kind of down over the past few weeks. But I feel a new wind as I come into alignment with the fact that the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Thank you for creating me and loving me. In your son’s name, Amen.

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