When it comes to supervising catechists, it helps to make a clear distinction between managing them and leading them. Managing what your catechists do and how they perform their duties is important. To help them flourish, an effective catechetical leader helps them understand why they serve as catechists: to help bring about the Kingdom of God.
To be honest, learning to balance management and leadership took years for me to figure out. But I am grateful for the way they began to take root in my life.
As a young adult I spent years in the for-profit corporate world. An eventual promotion required me to complete an intensive management training program in which I was taught what and how. I learned what a business plan is and how to analyze and interpret one. I learned what an effective marketing strategy looks like and how to shape one. I learned what to communicate to my direct reports and how to do it effectively.
Upon completing the training program, I was assigned a mentor in whom I discovered clear evidence of God’s providence at work in my life. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Management skills are important. But a successful organization also requires strong leaders whose primary focus is on why we do things and inspires others toward achieving goals. Let’s lead together, shall we?”
Under her mentorship my performance soared. She listened more than she spoke; she guided more than she directed. I learned how to offer—and receive—constructive criticism, and, with time, I learned how to recognize and develop talent in others. I matured both professionally and personally.
While no religious language was spoken at work, I knew that I was becoming a better Christian as well. Through my mentor, God revealed to me my duty toward upholding the Church’s social doctrines: my team was comprised of persons created in God’s image and who deserved to be treated with kindness and respect. Their work had dignity, and they were due a dignified work environment, a fair wage, and work shifts that supported family life.
Sure, my mentor taught me how to manage things better. But her leadership transformed my life.
When you’re in charge of a parish catechetical program, you’re required to manage. And an important aspect of your management duties is to supervise your catechists. This means you assess, evaluate, and cultivate your catechists.
You’re also required to lead. So as you go about fulfilling your managerial and supervisory duties, consider your leadership style. Do you listen more than speak? Do you guide more than direct? Do you motivate more than dictate? Are you comfortable talking about your own limitations and strengths? Is a spirit of joy evident in your interactions?
To manage a program and lead others well is not only complex, it is downright messy work! An enormous amount of time and energy are required to run the program, supervise catechists, and lead others in the spirit of Christ.
Our work helps us to sing the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary as our own: “My soul magnifies the Lord.” (Luke 1:46) An effective catechetical leader helps teach catechists that song.