Saint and Leader? The Example of St. Francis of Assisi

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Nathan Warren Harter


Francis of Assisi struggled to adhere to a coherent pattern of leadership as he founded a religious order in the Middle Ages. Despite many contradictions, three consistent themes emerge. First, he preached leadership by example. Second, he made obedience to the Christ higher in priority than institutional coherence. Third, Francis at his worst suffering displayed a kind of leadership the Roman Catholic Church was to label sainthood. But how exactly does a saint lead? Francis claimed not to know, despite his charismatic personality, even as he credited God with any success. This paper briefly recounts the story of Francis, examines some of the implications of his leadership, and then takes up the question of what constitutes a saint as a type of leader.


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Harter, N. (2018). Saint and Leader?. Theology of Leadership Journal, 1(1), 22-36. Retrieved from