The business world is not an easy place to practice Christian discipleship. Some challenges are obvious but there are many trapdoors as we journey along the path. How nice it would be to have mentors along the way.
Andreas Widmer had just such a mentor. Widmer served as Swiss guard at the Vatican for two years in the late 1980s. His frequent encounters with Pope John Paul II shaped his life as a businessperson over the coming years. Last year Widmer published a book about his personal journey called The Pope and The CEO: John Paul II’s Leadership Lessons to a Young Swiss Guard. Claudia Ellermann, a friend of mine from church, was a colleague of Widmer’s in the 1990’s and she put me on to the book. I’m glad she did.
The book is divided into nine chapters, sandwiched between some introductory remarks and a conclusion. Each chapter addresses a particular vocational question that leaders must wrestle with and offers habits we might develop to become better leaders. What is intriguing is the format. Each chapter contains a vignette from Widmer’s life as well as vignette from his encounters with the John Paul II. Widmer offers up some of his own painful failures, as well as some triumphs, and how at times he had to relearn lessons he learned from the Pope. There are questions at the end of each chapter that can be used as personal reflection or as the basis for discussion in group setting.
Widmer is coming from a Roman Catholic perspective and there were a couple of places where I had to translate ideas into Presbyterian <grin>. But the lessons learned are meaningful for any disciple of Jesus Christ. The presentation of the issues in an autobiographical format, often offering very intimate insights, makes it a deeply engaging read. I recommend this book for anyone who finds themselves in a leadership position, particularly in the business world.