Why in the world should I become a Vincentian Leader?

by | Jan 30, 2015 | Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Spirituality and Spiritual Practice | 1 comment

featured-image-generic-svdpWritten in the context of the St. Vincent dePaul Society this piece from the Newsletter of the Vincent dePaul Society provides perspectives on Vincentian leadership across the many branches of the Vincentian Family.


Vincentians have a general misunderstanding of what taking on leadership positions within the Society truly means, especially when it comes to assuming the office of president of a Conference or Council. Members might not appreciate the benefits of assuming the role of a Conference or Council leader. Believe it or not, there truly are personal benefits to be gained from serving as a Conference and Council president.

Growth in Personal Spirituality and Fellowship

Our mission says we lead men and women to join together to grow spiritually. As Catholics, we should all have spiritual growth as a priority in our lives. We are called daily to know, love and seek to imitate Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate servant leader. He tells us that without Him we can do nothing. As Jesus took Peter, He takes us and, although we can give Him little, He takes it and multiplies it as He did with the Fish and Loaves. As one takes on the leadership role, Jesus is there to guide and help. Leadership is a wonderful opportunity to grow closer to Jesus and He generously provides.

Serving as the president of a Conference or of a Council provides this different platform from which to enhance a leader’s own spiritual life and allows leaders a unique opportunity to promote spirituality to other Vincentians. It also allows leaders the opportunity to associate with other leaders and develop new friendships with at the same time sharing common experiences and
exchanging ideas.

It allows leaders to broaden their perspectives and skills, some of which are even transferable to the job or business world. One grows greatly in the appreciation of the worldwide network of charity that is the vision of Blessed Frederic.

Benefits to the Society

At the same time leaders provide a major service and benefit to the Society. Without leadership, service to the poor becomes ineffective and chaotic and sustainability of individual Conferences and Councils becomes a concern. St Vincent de Paul stated that, for charity to be
efficient, it must be organized. It is a time tested truth that emphasizes leadership is as important to the service of the poor as any other role in the Society.

Leadership is essential to help make the Society a more effective source of help to the needy and allows fresh ideas to be brought into the operation of Conferences and Councils. It helps take the stress off of other Vincentians and allows one to move the Society forward by promoting the Rule and the formation of goals and objectives.

Using Time Wisely Through Delegation

Among the concerns given for not stepping into leadership by running for Conference or Council president is that it is too time consuming. As presidents and leaders, we depend on others and, as members, we follow our Rule that tells us family and business needs come first. As a first among equals and as a servant leader, presidents help others to grow into leadership roles by appointing officers so it becomes a team effort. By spreading the work load around through officers such as vice presidents, secretary and treasurers and, by making use of committees, the work load can be shared and others become vital parts of the Leadership team. Presidents do not need to attend all committee meetings. They appoint committee chairs who will accurately report back to them and to the membership.

Committees provide the opportunity to identify capable candidates to move intofuture leadership roles thus ensuring succession of good leaders.

Building Experience

One of the recommendations we offer is to move the timing of the presidential nomination process and election up by several months. We recommend beginning the nomination process one year in advance of the expiration of a president’s term and holding the election up to six months before the start of the term of the new president. The natural question is: why should this be done?

There are many professional organizations that elect presidents a year in advance that there is a president-elect for up to one year before his or her term begins. So why should we do this? It gives an incoming president more of an opportunity to learn what has been going on, both the good and bad sides, and helps to foster objectives going forward. It allows for a much smoother transition. It allows newly elected presidents to not only develop more knowledge about the Society but to size up membership in order to feel comfortable in selecting officers, appointive board members, and committee chairs.

Developing Knowledge

Some qualified Vincentians think they won’t know what to do or how to handle the position of President or any other leadership position for that matter. The Society, however, has many resources available such as;
1. The Rule
2. Conference President Handbook
3. Council President Handbook
4. The Manual of the Society

These are concise handbooks that provide all you need to know about the Society’s rules, procedures and policies – documentation that will put to shame many large commercial organizations.

Leadership in the Society is based on an understanding of our Vincentian vocation and Spirituality. Its success is based on servant leadership and an ability to listen and promote group decisions. The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The best test is: do those served grow as persons: do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit or, at least, not be further deprived?

After you’ve reflected on the above discussion and prayed about how you can serve the Society, take a look at our proposed plan of action. Let the Holy Spirit lead you.

Let the Holy Spirit lead you.

1 Comment

  1. Ralph Silvester

    Where would I purchase a Conferance President hand book?

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