In a day of technological advancements for communication, one of the most important messages this year was sent by a smoke signal. It came from that famous pipe above the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican in Rome, Italy. White smoke sent the signal “We have a new Pope.”
Over a hundred thousand people gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. Millions were watching on television. On Wednesday evening March 13, the signal was sent – white smoke. Surprise – it wasn’t somebody who had been predicted. The new Pope would be Jesuit and the first Pope ever elected from South America.
The new Pope sent a real signal to the whole world in his first few moments. His signals for leadership are so appropriate for people of all denominations, businesses, governments, etc. The things he did indicated that there was a new Pope in town – sending a new signal.
Study the smoke signals:
1. Humility – As soon as he appeared on the balcony and was introduced as the new Pope, he humbly asked the people to pray for him. Popes are supposed to pray for the people – he first asked the people to pray for him. People bow before the Pope – the Pope bowed before the people. He humbly received the prayers of the people. It was a humble moment that emanated from a humble man. (Read I Peter 5:5, 6)
His first actions were an echo of his life style. When he was raised to the position of
Archbishop, his first act was to spend time in a soup kitchen. While there were elegantly appointed quarters for him to live in Buenos Aires, he declined and elected to live in a simple apartment downtown. When they asked about the time that the limousine and driver should pick him up, he simply replied that he would be taking the bus. He didn’t want a chef – he cooked his own meals. He is a humble man.
Humility is a missing element amongst many leaders today. Arrogance and power seem to replace humility and service. He chose the name Francis after the 13th century Bishop St. Francis who renounced all of the riches and power that were to be his and lived a very humble life of service.
2. Holiness – The smoke signaled holiness. The new Pope Francis acknowledged his dependence upon God. Many thought that someone who had more political clout would be elected. After all South America has over five hundred thousand Catholics, yet they have very little representation in the conclave of Cardinals. Italy has only a fraction of the number of Catholics as does South America yet they have many, many more Cardinals who are voting. Politicians thought that he would not have a chance – but God seemed to have another idea. God selected a holy man. As some observer said, “His election could only have been the work of God.”
The Roman Catholic Church has some tremendous challenges. There are the sexual improprieties and cover ups. We have learned about a lot of the potential misappropriations of money through the banking coffers of the Catholic Church. There have been leaks from within the Vatican by the Pope’s butler about sensitive issues. The list goes on and on. How do you solve these problems? The solution begins with holy leadership.
Holiness is a lost word today. God said, “You are to be holy as I am holy.” (I Peter 1:15, 16) He has always raised up leaders who are holy. What holiness means is that at the end of the day holy people will not participate in, condone, or cover up sexual improprieties, or financial misconduct, or the things of the world that please Satan. Holiness is the light that stamps out the darkness.
What if we make electing holy leaders a priority? It is the real solution to racism, gun control, budget woes, etc. Holy people follow God’s direction. Holy people are committed to the core truths of the Bible and the timeless orthodox truths of the church. In 2013, we need to go back to the basics – core values that have stood the test of time.
Humility – Holiness – The result is Hope – These are the signals we need to see and practice today.
Watch the chimney!!