Pope Resigns: Modeling What It Means to be a 21st Century Leader

On February 11, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI did something that no Pope has done since 1415: he resigned effective February 28. Although the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law 332 §2 states that the Pope can resign, it is not something that has been done in over 600 years.

A Pope usually holds his seat until he dies… until now.

I believe Pope Benedict XVI is modeling what it means to be a good leader in the modern world. He cited that the reasons for his resignation were because of “advanced age.”

The 85 year-old pontiff stated, “Strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”

It takes a courageous leader to step down from a position of that stature, a position in which most Pope’s have died in.

Benedict was able to make this courageous decision for 3 reasons, and I have learned a good lesson from his leadership:

  • He is self-aware: It is important for me to know myself. My strengths and weaknesses determine a lot of what and who I become. This takes reflection and evaluation. Probably to a fault, I’m constantly learning about myself, how I work, what I’m good at, what I’m bad at, and how I can become a better leader, minister, husband, and father. I call it having a “constructive spirit of discontent.” I’ve grown a lot, but I have a lot more growing to do.
  • He is confident: Confidence in who you are and your leadership is critical. Everyone can spot an insecure leader when we see one. Insecure leaders hoard power and worry that others are out to get them. A confident leader is the opposite. A confident leader empowers others. That type of confidence brings out the confidence in other leaders around you. And a confident leader knows when to let others take the lead.
  • He prays: You can tell that the Pope truly spent significant time in prayer discerning this decision. There is no doubt in my mind that this was a difficult decision. Yet, ultimately, he trusted in God’s leadership and will for his life. The only way a leader can know God’s will for their life is to be in prayer.

Pope Benedict XVI is setting the tone in which all future pope’s will be measured by. He has broken with tradition (allowed by Canon Law) and has allowed for another leader to be discerned as Pope who will be better able to fulfill the demands that being Pope requires.

I applaud Pope Benedict XVI on his decision and his leadership.

Question: In what ways has your self-awareness, confidence, and prayer life manifested itself in your leadership?

John Rinaldo

As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.


John Rinaldo


As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.



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