Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Winning , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. May 31, Gabriel Rocha rated it liked it.
Oct 10, Suddenven rated it liked it. Short but concise summary to the common questions asked in the business world. However, I find the contents of this book a bit general. Feb 15, Alberto Lopez rated it liked it. I liked it although nowhere near as good as "Straight from the gut". Feb 15, Thomas Johnson rated it liked it. Good book, tough read. I had to spend alot of time re-reading to retain information. Mar 15, Lubna rated it really liked it. As Jack Welch on his website emphasizes: Winning is great! The 74 questions and answers are contained in six sections. This was in response to a question raised by a newly appointed head of a learning and development department and he had to make some tough choices to usher in change.
Jack and Suzy Welch point out to the three critical organisational components: an inspirational mission; a clear set of values and rigorous appraisal system. If it applied to a department catering to learning and development, it applies equally well to a service industry — to us. However, a word of caution, as also provided by the authors — Make sure your reasons for the change initiative are transparent to everyone, be it something as simple as a new process for drafting audit working papers or client conference notes. Some people will resist change.
They always do. But as soon as results start rolling in, your new approach will make its own case, loud and clear. You get a similar experience with this book-the same qualities jump at u from every page : " one of th ecomments. Shelves: leadership. Book contains very good brief answers for Frequently Asked Questions by many people businessmen, students, analysts etc. Identifying the most important competencies that the individ- ual must display in doing the job 4. Creating an appropriate individual development plan Tell Me More One of the primary reasons that performance appraisal discussions are so awkward is that they are conducted in a vacuum.
Performance planning is the bedrock of an effective performance management system. Since the form will be used months later to assess how well the individual did the job, it should be used from the start to plan the job expectations. These managers are wrong. How much time is involved? In most cases, the discussion itself lasts about forty-five minutes to an hour.
A minute devoted to planning may prevent hours spent on correcting and re- sponding to an anguished reaction during a performance appraisal dis- cussion i. The manager has six primary responsibilities. Before the Meeting 1. Think about the goals and objectives the person needs to achieve in the upcoming ap- praisal period. Identify the most important competencies that you expect the individual to demonstrate in performing the job. Determine what you consider to be fully successful perfor- mance in each area.
During the Meeting 5. Discuss and come to agreement with the individual on the most important competencies, key position responsibilities, and goals. Performance Planning 23 6. Tell Me More Most of the work involved in effective performance planning happens in advance of the actual meeting.
The manager needs to think about the goals the individual needs to accomplish over the upcoming twelve months and the important competencies or behaviors the man- ager expects the individual to display in her performance. Once the manager FL has identified goals for the whole department, he can ask each subordi- nate to set individual goals that help ensure that the overall department goals will be met.
AM Few organizations have job descriptions that would qualify as models of excellence. But no matter how good or bad your job descrip- tions are, they may be useful sources of data to indicate areas where the individual needs to concentrate attention over the course of the TE year. During the meeting the manager will discuss the goals for the de- partment and the company as a whole. Once the goals and responsibili- ties have been identified and reviewed, the appraiser and appraisee will need to talk about how the job will be done.
The manager should begin the meeting having thought through how she wants the job to be done. While the manager has six important responsibilities in the planning phase of performance management, the individual actually has seven. Again, most of the responsibilities involve activities that happen before the actual meeting. Review your job description and determine your critical respon- sibilities. Think about your job and identify the most important goals you feel you should accomplish in the upcoming appraisal period. Think about what you consider to be fully successful perfor- mance in each area.
Performance Planning 25 During the Meeting 5. Discuss and come to agreement with your appraiser on the most important competencies for your job, key position respon- sibilities, and goals. Discuss and come to agreement on your personal development plans. Make full notes on a working copy of the performance appraisal form. Keep the original of the form and give a copy to the ap- praiser.
Tell Me More Before the meeting the individual should do the same kind of advance planning that the manager is expected to do: Think about what the most important job responsibilities are, identify some possible goals for review during the planning session, consider the important competen- cies required for success in the job, and think about how job perfor- mance will be measured.
But there is one area that the individual has primary responsibility for: development planning. Before the meeting the individual needs to think about his or her future goals and the development efforts that it will take to reach them. While the manager bears most of the responsibility for identifying the goals, responsibilities, and competencies he expects from the individ- ual, the individual is the prime mover in identifying developmental areas and needs.
In addition to identifying the general area where developmental attention will be paid in the next twelve months, the individual should also think about the resources that will be needed to complete the plan. The best tool to use to record all of these agreements and understandings is the performance appraisal form itself. The individual should use a blank copy of the form and make notes on the goals, competencies, and responsibilities that she will be held accountable for over the course of the year. When the meet- ing is over, the individual should make a copy of the form with all of the notes and send it to the appraiser.
In that way, both parties to the performance transaction will have a full record of the expectations. Think about the competencies and behaviors that will be important in meeting all of your responsibilities successfully. And give some thought to your development plans for next year, too.
The subjects will still be timely and the information will be easily available. Tell Me More Open the meeting by communicating your belief about the importance of setting goals and ensuring a common understanding about perform- ance expectations. You might start by saying something like this: Thanks for coming in today, Sally. The opening few minutes set the tone for the entire meeting.
Results include actual job outputs, countable products, measurable out- comes and accomplishments, and objectives achieved. Results deal with what the person achieved. Behaviors deal with how the person went about doing the job.
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Probably all of us have encountered people who were excellent at one and fail- ures at the other. Great results, unac- ceptable behaviors. For an organization to be successful, both behaviors and results are important. People have to get the job done, deliver the goods, bring home the bacon—results. Performance Planning 29 Hot Tip Which is more important —behaviors or results? Although the answer varies from one organization to another and from one individual to another , most organizations agree that a greater emphasis needs to be placed on results.
In examining the performance appraisal forms from many organiza- tions that provide for weighing different parts of the performance evaluation to determine a final appraisal rating, most of them put about two-thirds of the weight on the results the individual achieved. Job descriptions should provide a lot of help in determining the key responsibilities of a job but they rarely do. Too often, however, job de- scriptions are written in very general ways to serve many different pur- poses: recruitment, compensation, legal requirements, etc.
As a result, they sometimes provide little information that is useful for perform- ance management purposes. The big rocks of a job are not the day-to-day tasks and chores, duties and assignments that consume all of the hours that we spend on the job. Those things are our activities. The big rocks of the job are the major responsibilities—the reasons that we do all those tasks and chores.
We engage in all of our daily activities because there are things that we are responsible for. Tell Me More Consider what might be the most familiar and easily understood posi- tion in an organization: the secretary or administrative assistant. The secretary is involved in a constantly changing series of tasks and mini- projects.
The key responsibility list might include the following items: Prepare documents. Handle faxes and copies. Manage the mail. Make travel arrangements. Manage information. Greet visitors to the office. While people are busy doing dozens of different things during any given day, only a small number of genuinely important results are expected from the position. Five, six, or maybe seven big rocks will be sufficient to cover all of the important responsibilities in most jobs.
Second, each item is stated succinctly. There are no elaborate de- scriptions of the activities or the conditions under which the job is done. They are the most fundamental and uncomplicated statements of the essential responsibilities of the job. In every case the statements are simply a noun and a verb. Each one refers to a discrete and separate area. Fourth, the list includes only responsibilities, not competencies. It focuses on the outcomes of the job, not on the way the secretary goes about achieving those outcomes.
Finally, there are no references to the quality of performance. The standards of performance will be developed later. The job of secretary is one that is in the administrative job family. The big rocks for an RN might be: Provide patient care. Educate patients and families. Assess patients. Ensure physician satisfaction. Coordinate support services. Ensure patient satisfaction.
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Again, the number of big rocks is small even though the nurse may do dozens of tasks over the course of one shift , but the statement of each is simple verb and noun. No quality indicators or measures are mixed in with the statements of key job responsibilities. Counsel employees and managers. Administer benefit programs. Conduct training programs. Ensure legal compliance. The big rocks in this job might be: Complete projects. Develop new approaches and innovations. Create long-range plans. Train operations and maintenance personnel. In this case there are only four big rocks. Only when the big rocks—the key responsibilities—of a job have been identified is it possible to assess how well the person is perform- ing the job.
If I were to excel in only one area, which one would you have me do my best in? If I had to eliminate one thing from my job, which one of my responsibilities do you feel is the least important? Whatever your response, it indicates the area of least importance. Performance Planning 33 There are four—and only four—general measures of output: 1. Quality 2. Quantity 3. Cost 4. There are also two kinds of specific performance measures: 1. Quantitative 2. Is the most critical indicator of success the number of units produced?
Or is the quality of the finished product the primary concern? Or is getting the job done at the lowest possible cost the most important thing? Or is it meeting the schedule? What will be your sources of information? How will you find out how many sales calls Mary actually made? What will tell you whether the deadline was met or missed? How will you know that the products Cindy produces are of high quality? If the key issue is quantity, it should be fairly easy to find numeri- cal measures that will indicate production. Numerical measures will also be easy to find when the issue is cost or timeliness.
Start by looking for numerical indicators that will tell you about the quality of the performance.
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It is not the num- ber of notes struck. Too often, the search for quantitative, numerical, countable mea- sures of quality is fruitless, and we end up using bogus measures sim- ply because they are easily quantifiable. The critical determinant of quality programming is the ability to write elegant and parsimonious code. What the job requires is the ability to capture nuance; simply counting the words the linguist translates provides no indicator of that rare skill.
We may find little to count, but a qualified judge can accurately describe the quality of the performance. Of course we must be objective. But what do the words objective and subjective actually mean? Performance Planning 35 2: Moodily introspective. This is wrong. Consider the Winter Olympics.
The winner of the downhill ski race is determined by time. The measurement tool is a stopwatch. The fastest skier wins. In ice hockey, the winning team is again determined quantitatively: The winner is the team that scores the most goals. What do the judges count? The answer, of course, is that there is nothing that they can count. Based on years of experience, with a clear model of excellence, and acting with integrity, they describe the performance and then assign a number to indicate their assessment.
In the Summer Olympics, the same is true. How is the winner of the hundred-meter freestyle determined? By the clock—the one who swims the fastest wins. What about water polo? But now consider platform diving. Again, there is nothing that they can count. Instead, they describe the performance and assign numbers to represent their judgment about its quality.
Objectivity has nothing to do with countability. As long as ap- praisers meet the following three tests, they are in fact objective evalua- tors. They have a clear model of excellence. They are trained and experienced. They act with integrity. They want the answers to the questions: Boss, how am I doing? Are you pleased with my work? There are no countable measures to answer those questions.
How- ever, every appraiser who is trained and experienced, who has a clear model of excellence, and who acts with integrity can answer those questions without difficulty. Goal setting is one of the key elements of performance planning. When the manager and the subordinate talk about key job respon- sibilities, they are talking about the specific requirements of the posi- tion—the elements that might be included in a job description.
But when they discuss goals, they are talking about what the individual will do in addition to simply meeting the job description demands of the position. Setting goals produces several important results: It forces the identification of critical success factors in the job. It mobilizes individual and organizational energy. It forces concentration on highest priority activities. It increases probability of success.
It generates increases in productivity. Tell Me More Thinking about goals forces the individual to think about the job itself. Why does the company have this job? What should someone who is being paid to do this job accomplish? What are the most important activities that the person holding this job should engage in? These are the questions that everyone should ask regularly; setting goals and ob- jectives forces everyone to do this at least once a year. Goal setting mobilizes energy. If we have set clearly stated and measurable goals and objec- tives, we are less likely to work on low-priority tasks because we will be aware of what our high-priority responsibilities are.
Goal setting increases the probability of success. Is that important? Hot Tip Goal setting directly increases productivity. Research on goal-setting pro- grams has found that companies that introduced systematic goal-setting programs enjoyed an average 39 percent increase in productivity. Interest- ingly, the size of the benefit varied dramatically among the companies, with the key differentiating factor being the amount of management support. In those companies where top management lent strong support to the goal- setting initiative, there was an average 57 percent increase in productivity; but in those companies where there was little top-management support, the increase was a paltry 6 percent.
Cynicism results. Objectives from a Previous Review Period. If the individual set objec- tives during a prior performance review discussion, these objectives should be considered for inclusion. If objectives or strategic plans have been established at a higher level, every individual in that work unit should have objectives that support the overall plan. Discussions with Customers and Others. Another rich source for finding important objectives is an analysis of the customers the individ- ual serves and the products and services provided to each customer. Everybody not just salespeople has customers.
Your boss and your direct reports if you have supervisory responsibility will always be customers for your work. Your peers and colleagues may be customers, too. Start by identifying who all of your customers are. They are the people to whom you provide a product or service. Then analyze what each of your customers expects of you an easy way to discover what they want of you is to ask them. Then figure out where you could improve your products or services to better support your customers. Those will be your goals and objectives.
Finally, look at the places where the organization is expe- riencing problems. Probably every employee of a company can see areas where improvements can be made; where the organization, or department, or job can be more effective. These are obvious sources of objectives. Here are some suggestions on creating workable goal statements: Start with an action verb.
Identify a single key result for each objective. Identify costs—dollars, time, materials, equipment. State verifiable criteria that will demonstrate that the goal has been achieved. Ensure that the goal is controllable by the individual. Determine the relative goal priorities. Determine how progress will be measured and how feedback will be provided and obtained.
Tell Me More Good goal statements begin with verbs: reduce, expand, write, elimi- nate, increase, arrange, create, and thousands of others. Next, identify the outcome that will be achieved as a result of the action. Here are some examples: Reduce the number of customer complaints by 6 percent. Expand the number of choices available on the dial-up program from six to eleven. Write an instructional manual on the Associated brand armature.
Increase customer satisfaction. Arrange three alternative distribution methods for the Ashford water purifier. Create an Internet-based applicant tracking system. Next, consider whether there are any constraints or restrictions that must be met in meeting the goals. What is the outcome of these calls? Concentrate on the results of the behaviors, not the behaviors them- selves.
How will you know that the objective has been achieved? In- stead, they direct the individual to seek verifiable criteria that will dem- onstrate that the goal has been achieved. For some goals the numeric measures may be unavailable. That is why quantitative, countable, numeric measures are better than descriptive ones—they are easier to verify. While total control may be absent, individuals frequently have a great deal of influence over achievement of an objective.
This is particularly true in dealing with high-level, so- phisticated jobs. However, in a job like this you do have a lot of influence and it is important to have someone in this position who can deliver the goods. Some organi- zations require a formal allocation of one hundred points to all of the goals that are set; others use an A-B-C system.
SMART is an acronym for the five components of an effective goal. Once an objective has been written down on paper, it is a test to tell whether it has been structured properly. It gives you no information at all about whether a goal is important or worth setting. But is it smart? Is it wise to lay these people off? How hard should the goals be? Should I define in advance what it will take to get a superior rating or should I simply describe what will qualify as fully successful? Should I set my objectives at the level that I need the job to be performed, or should I set them based on what I believe the employee is capable of delivering?
Should I build some real stretch into my expectations? These are some of the most difficult questions managers have to grapple with in planning the performance of their subordinates. Performance Planning 43 The easiest of these questions deals with whether the manager should identify in advance what it will take for a subordinate to get a superior performance appraisal rating.
The answer is no. There is just no way to tell in January what will be considered distin- guished performance next November. Being rated in these high performance categories usually involves unusual creativity and innovation, neither of which can be predicted a year in advance. If the manager is clear on what good, solid perform- ance looks like, then the exceptions—positive and negative—will speak for themselves. The harder issues are those that deal with just how high our expec- tations should be. To set Y your expectations of one subordinate lower because you believe that FL his capability is modest is both insulting to him and unfair to others.
As long as they are within the AM bounds of possibility, people will rise to a challenge and may end up surprising themselves with what they are capable of achieving. Here is an operational test for a stretch objective: It is one where there is only TE a fifty-fifty chance of achieving it. Hot Tip Set your expectations to the demands of the job, and recognize that the demands of the job will rise every year.
Top performers relish the challenge of meeting ever higher goals, and managers with high expectations are orga- nizational talent-magnets. No doubt it is easier to accept whatever level of effort people may choose to provide than it is to maintain tough, aggressive, and chal- lenging expectations of everyone. But high performance flows, and high performers thrive, in an organization where high standards pre- vail. You set the standards. Left to their own prefer- ences, many people will set their performance goals at levels they know they can comfortably achieve.
Your job as the manager is to raise—and keep raising—the bar. Your job as a man- ager is to bring out the best performance that each person is capable of, and sometimes that requires making people uncomfortable. In well-managed organizations, managers are judged by the re- sults that they produce, not by whether they are liked by all of their subordinates. While there is always room for discussion, negotiation, and compromise, in the end, your opinion prevails. After the meet- ing, the individual should make a copy of the form with all of the handwritten notes on it and send a copy to the manager.
During the course of the year, the notes should be updated as projects are com- pleted and requirements change. Chapter 3 Performance Execution 3. Performance execution is the second phase of an effective performance management process. For the individual, the critical responsibility in Phase II is getting the job done—achieving the objectives. For the appraiser, there are two major responsibilities: creating the conditions that motivate, and confronting and correcting any performance problems.
In an effective performance management system, performance ex- ecution also includes a midterm review to ensure that performance is on track. Essentially, performance execution consists of two major responsibili- ties for the manager. The first is to create the conditions that motivate people to perform at an excellent level. The other is to eliminate per- formance problems when they arise.
The manager also has some other responsibilities in the perfor- mance execution phase of the process. Every manager has to keep track of how well the people in the department are doing. Too often, manag- ers wait until the time for performance appraisal rolls around to dis- cover that they can only remember what Sam or Melinda did in the last six weeks or so.
Your records should include examples of both results and behaviors that caused you concern, as well as those that were right on target. Updating Objectives as Conditions Change. Over the course of a year, projects will be completed and the individual will move on to the next requirement.
Some projects will be altered from the expectations and requirements that were set at the start. Others will be abandoned. Every month or two, pull out the performance appraisal form with all the notes on it that the individual took during the performance- planning meeting. Read over the goals, objectives, and key responsibili- ties to make sure that they are as appropriate today as they were when the plan was set. If a project has been completed, note when it was finished, what the results were, and how well the individual per- formed.
If an objec- tive needs to be moved up or down the priority scale, move it. Providing Feedback and Coaching for Success. Providing routine and ongoing feedback is one of the characteristics of an effective manager. But good managers make a practice of consistently letting people know just what they are looking for and how their performance measures up. Providing Developmental Experiences and Opportunities.
Managers can accelerate the development of their people by mak- ing sure that they are intentionally presented with situations that will force them to learn and to grow. Reinforcing Effective Behavior. Building on strengths almost always provides better performance than trying to shore up weaknesses. Of course, people problems have to be identified and resolved.
But managers usually get a higher payoff from reinforcing those things that people are doing particularly well than by continually harping on their deficiencies. Conducting a Midterm Review. The employee has one primary responsibility: Get the job done. There are, however, several others: Solicit performance feedback and coaching. Communicate openly with your appraiser on progress and prob- lems in achieving objectives. Update objectives as conditions change. Complete the development plan. Keep track of achievements and accomplishments. Actively participate in the midterm review meeting.
While the manager is re- sponsible for providing performance feedback, the employee is also responsible for requesting it. Communicate openly with your appraiser on progress and problems in achieving objectives. Early in his career, when he had just been named plant manager of a new General Electric plastics plant, Jack Welch blew the plant up when he was experimenting with a new chemical process. A spark set off an explosion and tore the roof off the plant.
No one was injured, but the damage was massive. My confidence was shaken almost as much as the building I had destroyed. The individual usually knows sooner than the manager does when an objective needs to be revised. Conditions change, other priorities interfere. Once the individual and the manager have agreed on the development plan, the individual is responsible for its successful execution. Just as the boss is responsible for keeping track of how well people are doing and main- taining performance records, so individuals have a similar responsibil- ity to maintain their own records of their hits and misses.
Many managers ask their subordinates to provide a list of their accomplishments at the start of the assessment phase of the perfor- mance management process. If the individual is diligent about keeping records of what he or she has accomplished over the course of the year, it will be easy to respond to this request. If the individual can point to a series of genuine accomplishments that the boss has overlooked in creating the performance review, the odds go up that she may be successful in negotiating an upward change in the final rating. If the manager con- ducts a midcycle review, individuals can get significant benefits by being able to find out exactly how their performance is perceived be- fore it becomes a matter of formal record and an element of the perma- nent personnel record at the time of the final year-end review.
What is important is having com- plete records of exactly how the individual did when the time for per- formance assessment rolls around. How do you keep track of appointments and other important elements of the job? If you use a paper and pencil appointment calen- dar, start recording performance observations in it.
If you routinely create and submit weekly reports, start writing a separate weekly re- port on your performance observations over the past five work days. Tell Me More An approach that is often recommended and one that works well if the manager has the discipline to make it an ongoing part of her routine is to create an actual performance log. A performance log is any reposi- tory for your notes and observations on the performance of the people who work for you.
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It might be an inexpensive spiral-bound notebook that schoolchildren use to take their notes in class. It might be a hang- ing file into which you place manila folders with the name of each of your subordinates written at the top. Or it might simply be a pad that you keep in a desk drawer and use exclusively for recording perfor- mance observations. There are no such things as mental notes. Use your perfor- mance log to simply jot down occasional reminders of the important activities you want to remember when it comes time for assessing the quality of that performance.
Concentrate on both positive and negative observations. The pur- pose of the performance log is to ensure a complete record. The performance log, in whatever form you keep it, is your private and informal record of how people have done in their activities on the job. You may find it worthwhile to have your performance log available if an employee challenges a judgment you make or a description you record in the performance appraisal. The first responsibility of a manager in the performance execution phase is to create the conditions that motivate.
The second is to elimi- nate performance problems. Solving people problems, however, is the unusual and infrequent occurrence. Far more common is the need to motivate peo- ple to deliver all the good efforts of which they are capable. Motivation is internal.
We cannot ourselves motivate anyone to do anything that the person does not want to do. We can only create the conditions that result in internal motivation. The motivation of her troops is very dependent on whether she actually creates the conditions that lead to motivation. Given the constant barrage of pep talks and posters, slogans, free advice, and exhortation on the topic of motivation, there should cer- tainly be a couple of core principles of motivation that predictably work with every person, every time.
Bring to mind the job you had that produced the greatest feelings of motivation in you. It makes no difference. It also makes no difference what the word motivation means to you. However you choose to define the term is fine. Call it job satisfaction, or excitement, or enthusiasm, or a turn-on. Now that you have that high-motivation job clearly in mind, quickly jot down the factors that caused you to feel so motivated, satis- fied, or turned on.
We must keep in mind, however, that we are constantly being called to grow. Each culture and social group needs purification and growth. In the case of the popular cultures of Catholic peoples, we can see deficiencies which need to be healed by the Gospel: machismo, alcoholism, domestic violence, low Mass attendance, fatalistic or superstitious notions which lead to sorcery, and the like.
Popular piety itself can be the starting point for healing and liberation from these deficiencies. It is also true that at times greater emphasis is placed on the outward expressions and traditions of some groups, or on alleged private revelations which would replace all else, than on the impulse of Christian piety. Some people promote these expressions while not being in the least concerned with the advancement of society or the formation of the laity, and in certain cases they do so in order to obtain economic benefits or some power over others.
Nor can we overlook the fact that in recent decades there has been a breakdown in the way Catholics pass down the Christian faith to the young. It is undeniable that many people feel disillusioned and no longer identify with the Catholic tradition. Growing numbers of parents do not bring their children for baptism or teach them how to pray. There is also a certain exodus towards other faith communities.
The causes of this breakdown include: a lack of opportunity for dialogue in families, the influence of the communications media, a relativistic subjectivism, unbridled consumerism which feeds the market, lack of pastoral care among the poor, the failure of our institutions to be welcoming, and our difficulty in restoring a mystical adherence to the faith in a pluralistic religious landscape.
The new Jerusalem, the holy city cf. Rev , is the goal towards which all of humanity is moving. We need to look at our cities with a contemplative gaze, a gaze of faith which sees God dwelling in their homes, in their streets and squares. He dwells among them, fostering solidarity, fraternity, and the desire for goodness, truth and justice. This presence must not be contrived but found, uncovered. God does not hide himself from those who seek him with a sincere heart, even though they do so tentatively, in a vague and haphazard manner.
In cities, as opposed to the countryside, the religious dimension of life is expressed by different lifestyles, daily rhythms linked to places and people. In their daily lives people must often struggle for survival and this struggle contains within it a profound understanding of life which often includes a deep religious sense.
We must examine this more closely in order to enter into a dialogue like that of our Lord and the Samaritan woman at the well where she sought to quench her thirst cf. Jn New cultures are constantly being born in these vast new expanses where Christians are no longer the customary interpreters or generators of meaning. Instead, they themselves take from these cultures new languages, symbols, messages and paradigms which propose new approaches to life, approaches often in contrast with the Gospel of Jesus.
A completely new culture has come to life and continues to grow in the cities. The Synod noted that today the changes taking place in these great spaces and the culture which they create are a privileged locus of the new evangelization. Through the influence of the media, rural areas are being affected by the same cultural changes, which are significantly altering their way of life as well.
What is called for is an evangelization capable of shedding light on these new ways of relating to God, to others and to the world around us, and inspiring essential values. It must reach the places where new narratives and paradigms are being formed, bringing the word of Jesus to the inmost soul of our cities. Cities are multicultural; in the larger cities, a connective network is found in which groups of people share a common imagination and dreams about life, and new human interactions arise, new cultures, invisible cities.
Various subcultures exist side by side, and often practise segregation and violence. The Church is called to be at the service of a difficult dialogue. Cities create a sort of permanent ambivalence because, while they offer their residents countless possibilities, they also present many people with any number of obstacles to the full development of their lives. This contrast causes painful suffering.
In many parts of the world, cities are the scene of mass protests where thousands of people call for freedom, a voice in public life, justice and a variety of other demands which, if not properly understood, will not be silenced by force. We cannot ignore the fact that in cities human trafficking, the narcotics trade, the abuse and exploitation of minors, the abandonment of the elderly and infirm, and various forms of corruption and criminal activity take place.
At the same time, what could be significant places of encounter and solidarity often become places of isolation and mutual distrust. Houses and neighbourhoods are more often built to isolate and protect than to connect and integrate. The proclamation of the Gospel will be a basis for restoring the dignity of human life in these contexts, for Jesus desires to pour out an abundance of life upon our cities cf.
The unified and complete sense of human life that the Gospel proposes is the best remedy for the ills of our cities, even though we have to realize that a uniform and rigid program of evangelization is not suited to this complex reality. But to live our human life to the fullest and to meet every challenge as a leaven of Gospel witness in every culture and in every city will make us better Christians and bear fruit in our cities.
Temptations faced by pastoral workers. I feel tremendous gratitude to all those who are committed to working in and for the Church. Here I do not wish to discuss at length the activities of the different pastoral workers, from bishops down to those who provide the most humble and hidden services. Rather, I would like to reflect on the challenges that all of them must face in the context of our current globalized culture. The pain and the shame we feel at the sins of some members of the Church, and at our own, must never make us forget how many Christians are giving their lives in love.
They help so many people to be healed or to die in peace in makeshift hospitals. They are present to those enslaved by different addictions in the poorest places on earth. They devote themselves to the education of children and young people. They take care of the elderly who have been forgotten by everyone else. They look for ways to communicate values in hostile environments. They are dedicated in many other ways to showing an immense love for humanity inspired by the God who became man.
I am grateful for the beautiful example given to me by so many Christians who joyfully sacrifice their lives and their time. This witness comforts and sustains me in my own effort to overcome selfishness and to give more fully of myself. As children of this age, though, all of us are in some way affected by the present globalized culture which, while offering us values and new possibilities, can also limit, condition and ultimately harm us.
Yes to the challenge of a missionary spirituality. Today we are seeing in many pastoral workers, including consecrated men and women, an inordinate concern for their personal freedom and relaxation, which leads them to see their work as a mere appendage to their life, as if it were not part of their very identity. At the same time, the spiritual life comes to be identified with a few religious exercises which can offer a certain comfort but which do not encourage encounter with others, engagement with the world or a passion for evangelization.
As a result, one can observe in many agents of evangelization, even though they pray, a heightened individualism, a crisis of identity and a cooling of fervour. These are three evils which fuel one another. As a consequence, many pastoral workers, although they pray, develop a sort of inferiority complex which leads them to relativize or conceal their Christian identity and convictions. This produces a vicious circle. They end up being unhappy with who they are and what they do; they do not identify with their mission of evangelization and this weakens their commitment.
They end up stifling the joy of mission with a kind of obsession about being like everyone else and possessing what everyone else possesses. Their work of evangelization thus becomes forced, and they devote little energy and very limited time to it. Pastoral workers can thus fall into a relativism which, whatever their particular style of spirituality or way of thinking, proves even more dangerous than doctrinal relativism.
It has to do with the deepest and inmost decisions that shape their way of life. This practical relativism consists in acting as if God did not exist, making decisions as if the poor did not exist, setting goals as if others did not exist, working as if people who have not received the Gospel did not exist. It is striking that even some who clearly have solid doctrinal and spiritual convictions frequently fall into a lifestyle which leads to an attachment to financial security, or to a desire for power or human glory at all cost, rather than giving their lives to others in mission. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of missionary enthusiasm!
At a time when we most need a missionary dynamism which will bring salt and light to the world, many lay people fear that they may be asked to undertake some apostolic work and they seek to avoid any responsibility that may take away from their free time. For example, it has become very difficult today to find trained parish catechists willing to persevere in this work for some years. Something similar is also happening with priests who are obsessed with protecting their free time.
Some resist giving themselves over completely to mission and thus end up in a state of paralysis and acedia. The problem is not always an excess of activity, but rather activity undertaken badly, without adequate motivation, without a spirituality which would permeate it and make it pleasurable. As a result, work becomes more tiring than necessary, even leading at times to illness.
Far from a content and happy tiredness, this is a tense, burdensome, dissatisfying and, in the end, unbearable fatigue. This pastoral acedia can be caused by a number of things.
Some fall into it because they throw themselves into unrealistic projects and are not satisfied simply to do what they reasonably can. Others, because they lack the patience to allow processes to mature; they want everything to fall from heaven. Others, because they are attached to a few projects or vain dreams of success.
Others, because they have lost real contact with people and so depersonalize their work that they are more concerned with the road map than with the journey itself. Others fall into acedia because they are unable to wait; they want to dominate the rhythm of life. For all this, I repeat: Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the joy of evangelization!
The joy of the Gospel is such that it cannot be taken away from us by anyone or anything cf. The evils of our world — and those of the Church — must not be excuses for diminishing our commitment and our fervour. Let us look upon them as challenges which can help us to grow. Our faith is challenged to discern how wine can come from water and how wheat can grow in the midst of weeds. Fifty years after the Second Vatican Council , we are distressed by the troubles of our age and far from naive optimism; yet the fact that we are more realistic must not mean that we are any less trusting in the Spirit or less generous.
In this modern age they can see nothing but prevarication and ruin … We feel that we must disagree with those prophets of doom who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand. Nobody can go off to battle unless he is fully convinced of victory beforehand.
If we start without confidence, we have already lost half the battle and we bury our talents. Christian triumph is always a cross, yet a cross which is at the same time a victorious banner borne with aggressive tenderness against the assaults of evil. The evil spirit of defeatism is brother to the temptation to separate, before its time, the wheat from the weeds; it is the fruit of an anxious and self-centred lack of trust.
This is another painful kind of desert. But family and the workplace can also be a parched place where faith nonetheless has to be preserved and communicated. At times, this becomes a heavy cross, but it was from the cross, from his pierced side, that our Lord gave himself to us as a source of living water. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of hope! Yes to the new relationships brought by Christ. Greater possibilities for communication thus turn into greater possibilities for encounter and solidarity for everyone.
If we were able to take this route, it would be so good, so soothing, so liberating and hope-filled! To go out of ourselves and to join others is healthy for us. To be self-enclosed is to taste the bitter poison of immanence, and humanity will be worse for every selfish choice we make. Many try to escape from others and take refuge in the comfort of their privacy or in a small circle of close friends, renouncing the realism of the social aspect of the Gospel. For just as some people want a purely spiritual Christ, without flesh and without the cross, they also want their interpersonal relationships provided by sophisticated equipment, by screens and systems which can be turned on and off on command.
Meanwhile, the Gospel tells us constantly to run the risk of a face-to-face encounter with others, with their physical presence which challenges us, with their pain and their pleas, with their joy which infects us in our close and continuous interaction. True faith in the incarnate Son of God is inseparable from self-giving, from membership in the community, from service, from reconciliation with others.
The Son of God, by becoming flesh, summoned us to the revolution of tenderness. Isolation, which is a version of immanentism, can find expression in a false autonomy which has no place for God. The return to the sacred and the quest for spirituality which mark our own time are ambiguous phenomena. Unless these people find in the Church a spirituality which can offer healing and liberation, and fill them with life and peace, while at the same time summoning them to fraternal communion and missionary fruitfulness, they will end up by being taken in by solutions which neither make life truly human nor give glory to God.
Genuine forms of popular religiosity are incarnate, since they are born of the incarnation of Christian faith in popular culture. For this reason they entail a personal relationship, not with vague spiritual energies or powers, but with God, with Christ, with Mary, with the saints.
These devotions are fleshy, they have a face. They are capable of fostering relationships and not just enabling escapism. One important challenge is to show that the solution will never be found in fleeing from a personal and committed relationship with God which at the same time commits us to serving others. This happens frequently nowadays, as believers seek to hide or keep apart from others, or quietly flit from one place to another or from one task to another, without creating deep and stable bonds.
We need to help others to realize that the only way is to learn how to encounter others with the right attitude, which is to accept and esteem them as companions along the way, without interior resistance. Better yet, it means learning to find Jesus in the faces of others, in their voices, in their pleas. And learning to suffer in the embrace of the crucified Jesus whenever we are unjustly attacked or meet with ingratitude, never tiring of our decision to live in fraternity. There indeed we find true healing, since the way to relate to others which truly heals instead of debilitating us, is a mystical fraternity, a contemplative fraternity.
It is a fraternal love capable of seeing the sacred grandeur of our neighbour, of finding God in every human being, of tolerating the nuisances of life in common by clinging to the love of God, of opening the heart to divine love and seeking the happiness of others just as their heavenly Father does. Mt We are called to bear witness to a constantly new way of living together in fidelity to the Gospel.
It takes on many forms, depending on the kinds of persons and groups into which it seeps. Since it is based on carefully cultivated appearances, it is not always linked to outward sin; from without, everything appears as it should be. This worldliness can be fuelled in two deeply interrelated ways. One is the attraction of gnosticism, a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings.
The other is the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying.
In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others.
These are manifestations of an anthropocentric immanentism. It is impossible to think that a genuine evangelizing thrust could emerge from these adulterated forms of Christianity. In this way, the life of the Church turns into a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few.
In others, this spiritual worldliness lurks behind a fascination with social and political gain, or pride in their ability to manage practical affairs, or an obsession with programmes of self-help and self-realization. It can also translate into a concern to be seen, into a social life full of appearances, meetings, dinners and receptions. The mark of Christ, incarnate, crucified and risen, is not present; closed and elite groups are formed, and no effort is made to go forth and seek out those who are distant or the immense multitudes who thirst for Christ.
Evangelical fervour is replaced by the empty pleasure of complacency and self-indulgence. This way of thinking also feeds the vainglory of those who are content to have a modicum of power and would rather be the general of a defeated army than a mere private in a unit which continues to fight. How often we dream up vast apostolic projects, meticulously planned, just like defeated generals! We indulge in endless fantasies and we lose contact with the real lives and difficulties of our people.
Those who have fallen into this worldliness look on from above and afar, they reject the prophecy of their brothers and sisters, they discredit those who raise questions, they constantly point out the mistakes of others and they are obsessed by appearances. Their hearts are open only to the limited horizon of their own immanence and interests, and as a consequence they neither learn from their sins nor are they genuinely open to forgiveness.
This is a tremendous corruption disguised as a good. We need to avoid it by making the Church constantly go out from herself, keeping her mission focused on Jesus Christ, and her commitment to the poor. God save us from a worldly Church with superficial spiritual and pastoral trappings! This stifling worldliness can only be healed by breathing in the pure air of the Holy Spirit who frees us from self-centredness cloaked in an outward religiosity bereft of God. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the Gospel! How many wars take place within the people of God and in our different communities!
In our neighbourhoods and in the workplace, how many wars are caused by envy and jealousy, even among Christians! Spiritual worldliness leads some Christians to war with other Christians who stand in the way of their quest for power, prestige, pleasure and economic security. Instead of belonging to the whole Church in all its rich variety, they belong to this or that group which thinks itself different or special. Our world is being torn apart by wars and violence, and wounded by a widespread individualism which divides human beings, setting them against one another as they pursue their own well-being.
In various countries, conflicts and old divisions from the past are re-emerging. I especially ask Christians in communities throughout the world to offer a radiant and attractive witness of fraternal communion. Beware of the temptation of jealousy! We are all in the same boat and headed to the same port! Let us ask for the grace to rejoice in the gifts of each, which belong to all.
Those wounded by historical divisions find it difficult to accept our invitation to forgiveness and reconciliation, since they think that we are ignoring their pain or are asking them to give up their memory and ideals. But if they see the witness of authentically fraternal and reconciled communities, they will find that witness luminous and attractive. It always pains me greatly to discover how some Christian communities, and even consecrated persons, can tolerate different forms of enmity, division, calumny, defamation, vendetta, jealousy and the desire to impose certain ideas at all costs, even to persecutions which appear as veritable witch hunts.
Whom are we going to evangelize if this is the way we act? Let us ask the Lord to help us understand the law of love. How good it is to have this law! How much good it does us to love one another, in spite of everything. Yes, in spite of everything! We all have our likes and dislikes, and perhaps at this very moment we are angry with someone.
To pray for a person with whom I am irritated is a beautiful step forward in love, and an act of evangelization. Let us do it today! Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the ideal of fraternal love! Lay people are, put simply, the vast majority of the people of God. The minority — ordained ministers — are at their service. There has been a growing awareness of the identity and mission of the laity in the Church.
We can count on many lay persons, although still not nearly enough, who have a deeply-rooted sense of community and great fidelity to the tasks of charity, catechesis and the celebration of the faith. At the same time, a clear awareness of this responsibility of the laity, grounded in their baptism and confirmation, does not appear in the same way in all places.
In some cases, it is because lay persons have not been given the formation needed to take on important responsibilities. In others, it is because in their particular Churches room has not been made for them to speak and to act, due to an excessive clericalism which keeps them away from decision-making. Even if many are now involved in the lay ministries, this involvement is not reflected in a greater penetration of Christian values in the social, political and economic sectors. It often remains tied to tasks within the Church, without a real commitment to applying the Gospel to the transformation of society.
The formation of the laity and the evangelization of professional and intellectual life represent a significant pastoral challenge. The Church acknowledges the indispensable contribution which women make to society through the sensitivity, intuition and other distinctive skill sets which they, more than men, tend to possess. I think, for example, of the special concern which women show to others, which finds a particular, even if not exclusive, expression in motherhood. I readily acknowledge that many women share pastoral responsibilities with priests, helping to guide people, families and groups and offering new contributions to theological reflection.
But we need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church. Demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected, based on the firm conviction that men and women are equal in dignity, present the Church with profound and challenging questions which cannot be lightly evaded. The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the Spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion, but it can prove especially divisive if sacramental power is too closely identified with power in general.
The configuration of the priest to Christ the head — namely, as the principal source of grace — does not imply an exaltation which would set him above others. Youth ministry, as traditionally organized, has also suffered the impact of social changes. Young people often fail to find responses to their concerns, needs, problems and hurts in the usual structures. As adults, we find it hard to listen patiently to them, to appreciate their concerns and demands, and to speak to them in a language they can understand.
For the same reason, our efforts in the field of education do not produce the results expected. The rise and growth of associations and movements mostly made up of young people can be seen as the work of the Holy Spirit, who blazes new trails to meet their expectations and their search for a deep spirituality and a more real sense of belonging. Even if it is not always easy to approach young people, progress has been made in two areas: the awareness that the entire community is called to evangelize and educate the young, and the urgent need for the young to exercise greater leadership.
We should recognize that despite the present crisis of commitment and communal relationships, many young people are making common cause before the problems of our world and are taking up various forms of activism and volunteer work. Some take part in the life of the Church as members of service groups and various missionary initiatives in their own dioceses and in other places.
Many places are experiencing a dearth of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. This is often due to a lack of contagious apostolic fervour in communities which results in a cooling of enthusiasm and attractiveness. Wherever there is life, fervour and a desire to bring Christ to others, genuine vocations will arise. Even in parishes where priests are not particularly committed or joyful, the fraternal life and fervour of the community can awaken in the young a desire to consecrate themselves completely to God and to the preaching of the Gospel.
This is particularly true if such a living community prays insistently for vocations and courageously proposes to its young people the path of special consecration. On the other hand, despite the scarcity of vocations, today we are increasingly aware of the need for a better process of selecting candidates to the priesthood. Seminaries cannot accept candidates on the basis of any motivation whatsoever, especially if those motivations have to do with affective insecurity or the pursuit of power, human glory or economic well-being.
As I mentioned above, I have not sought to offer a complete diagnosis, but I invite communities to complete and enrich these perspectives on the basis of their awareness of the challenges facing them and their neighbours. It is my hope that, in doing so, they will realize that whenever we attempt to read the signs of the times it is helpful to listen to young people and the elderly. Both represent a source of hope for every people. The elderly bring with them memory and the wisdom of experience, which warns us not to foolishly repeat our past mistakes.
Challenges exist to be overcome! Let us be realists, but without losing our joy, our boldness and our hope-filled commitment. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of missionary vigour! The entire people of God proclaims the Gospel. Evangelization is the task of the Church. The Church, as the agent of evangelization, is more than an organic and hierarchical institution; she is first and foremost a people advancing on its pilgrim way towards God.
She is certainly a mystery rooted in the Trinity, yet she exists concretely in history as a people of pilgrims and evangelizers, transcending any institutional expression, however necessary. I would like to dwell briefly on this way of understanding the Church, whose ultimate foundation is in the free and gracious initiative of God.
The salvation which God offers us is the work of his mercy. No human efforts, however good they may be, can enable us to merit so great a gift. God, by his sheer grace, draws us to himself and makes us one with him. The Church is sent by Jesus Christ as the sacrament of the salvation offered by God. The salvation which God has wrought, and the Church joyfully proclaims, is for everyone.
He has chosen to call them together as a people and not as isolated individuals. God attracts us by taking into account the complex interweaving of personal relationships entailed in the life of a human community. This people which God has chosen and called is the Church. Jesus did not tell the apostles to form an exclusive and elite group. To those who feel far from God and the Church, to all those who are fearful or indifferent, I would like to say this: the Lord, with great respect and love, is also calling you to be a part of his people!
The Church must be a place of mercy freely given, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel. The People of God is incarnate in the peoples of the earth, each of which has its own culture. It has to do with the lifestyle of a given society, the specific way in which its members relate to one another, to other creatures and to God.
Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome
In these first two Christian millennia, countless peoples have received the grace of faith, brought it to flower in their daily lives and handed it on in the language of their own culture. Whenever a community receives the message of salvation, the Holy Spirit enriches its culture with the transforming power of the Gospel.
When properly understood, cultural diversity is not a threat to Church unity. The Holy Spirit, sent by the Father and the Son, transforms our hearts and enables us to enter into the perfect communion of the blessed Trinity, where all things find their unity. He builds up the communion and harmony of the people of God. The same Spirit is that harmony, just as he is the bond of love between the Father and the Son.
Evangelization joyfully acknowledges these varied treasures which the Holy Spirit pours out upon the Church. We would not do justice to the logic of the incarnation if we thought of Christianity as monocultural and monotonous. While it is true that some cultures have been closely associated with the preaching of the Gospel and the development of Christian thought, the revealed message is not identified with any of them; its content is transcultural.
Hence in the evangelization of new cultures, or cultures which have not received the Christian message, it is not essential to impose a specific cultural form, no matter how beautiful or ancient it may be, together with the Gospel. The message that we proclaim always has a certain cultural dress, but we in the Church can sometimes fall into a needless hallowing of our own culture, and thus show more fanaticism than true evangelizing zeal. In all the baptized, from first to last, the sanctifying power of the Spirit is at work, impelling us to evangelization.
The people of God is holy thanks to this anointing, which makes it infallible in credendo. This means that it does not err in faith, even though it may not find words to explain that faith. The Spirit guides it in truth and leads it to salvation. The presence of the Spirit gives Christians a certain connaturality with divine realities, and a wisdom which enables them to grasp those realities intuitively, even when they lack the wherewithal to give them precise expression. In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples cf. All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients.
The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. So what are we waiting for? Of course, all of us are called to mature in our work as evangelizers. We want to have better training, a deepening love and a clearer witness to the Gospel. In this sense, we ought to let others be constantly evangelizing us. But this does not mean that we should postpone the evangelizing mission; rather, each of us should find ways to communicate Jesus wherever we are.
All of us are called to offer others an explicit witness to the saving love of the Lord, who despite our imperfections offers us his closeness, his word and his strength, and gives meaning to our lives. In your heart you know that it is not the same to live without him; what you have come to realize, what has helped you to live and given you hope, is what you also need to communicate to others. Our falling short of perfection should be no excuse; on the contrary, mission is a constant stimulus not to remain mired in mediocrity but to continue growing. The evangelizing power of popular piety.
In the same way, we can see that the different peoples among whom the Gospel has been inculturated are active collective subjects or agents of evangelization. This is because each people is the creator of their own culture and the protagonist of their own history. Culture is a dynamic reality which a people constantly recreates; each generation passes on a whole series of ways of approaching different existential situations to the next generation, which must in turn reformulate it as it confronts its own challenges.
Each portion of the people of God, by translating the gift of God into its own life and in accordance with its own genius, bears witness to the faith it has received and enriches it with new and eloquent expressions.
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