Principles of Leadership Embodied in Aelred’s Pastoral Prayer
Aelred knowing his weakness, trusts entirely in God’s mercy, in the confidence that the Shepherd who has called him is called Good. His image of God is entirely positive; God is the haven where the pitiful can find pity and the sinner forgiveness.
Aelred is properly concerned for the responsibility of leadership and the massive obstacles both within and without to good governance. He responds by seeking to open himself as fully as possible to God’s gifts and graces. He draws yet closer to his Saviour by confessing his sins, aware that he cannot lead others where he has not been himself.
Aelred is aware of the difference he can make by how he leads, and of how his own drives and desires can harm those placed in his charge: ruling well can only happen by becoming an instrument of God’s virtue.
Aelred knows that he should be prayerfully concerned both for his charge of others and for those in his charge, but he starts by putting himself right with God. So Aelred invites God’s gaze, knowing that being seen as he truly is is the foundation of his transformation.
Aelred seeks from God’s Spirit the fullest possible cleansing and healing, so that his own person may become an instrument through which God can relate to others. (This transformation involves Aelred being disciplined and persevering in his devotion.)
Aelred hopes to co-operate fully with God’s rule by asking for God to send the supreme gift of wisdom. Aelred sees wisdom as changing the essence of his relationship with his brothers, from being one of mere leadership to one of beneficial service.
Aelred has a clear sense of the work to which he is called. But Aelred also knows that in practice he must continually accommodate himself to the needs and character of others, and seeks to be taught and gifted in this by God.
Aelred seeks to help others only after seeking to share their life with them. He knows the power of his own example, word and prayer and so disposes himself wholeheartedly to the service of others, seeking both by his prayer and prayerful action to protect and encourage them.
Aelred’s vision of the means and end of leadership is formed by Scripture and the monastic tradition: Aelred accepts that, however passionately he may care for others, his role may provoke unpopularity, so he works for the respect and trust of those he leads, so that all may be built up.
Aelred aims to work hand in hand with God, but knows that in the end God’s hands are surer and broader.