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Don Owens

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How to Apply St Patrick to Your Work on Monday Morning

Before you lift your first green beer this weekend I hope you’ll consider the life of St Patrick.  Most people know little to nothing about his life other than the exaggerated tales.


St Patrick was a Roman born in Scotland to ruling parents in 387 AD.  He was abducted at 16 and made a slave in Ireland until he escaped at 20 and returned to his family.  He chose to become a cleric and felt God’s call on his life to bring the gospel to Ireland. He returned to the very people that enslaved him.


So first, he was not Irish, but he cared and loved the Irish people.  He was a true missionary in that he learned the language and returned to live among them without fear of the consequences.


He encountered much hardship, was accused of improper behavior, and was nearly killed on a few occasions, yet he remained steadfast and committed to his cause.


While there is a wealth of lessons from his life that could apply to the Christian life, I was looking at his writings and how his life may be applied to our careers.  Here are some quick lessons we can apply for St. Patrick as we return to our jobs on Monday, March 17th.


Admit Your Limitations


Patrick was humble before others.  He was concerned for all his life with the need to better master the Irish language.  Further he was concerned about how he managed relationships. 

“I, Patrick, a sinner, am a most uncultivated man, and the least of all the faithful.”  St Patrick, Declaration


In business it is easy to feel the need to pretend.  If you are a poser, you will be found out.  Confess what you don’t know with a willingness to learn.  Some people may exploit this, but those that you are seeking favor with will generally be grateful and trust you with more.


 Keep Your Integrity


This is tough.  I’ve watched numerous men and woman accept gifts that should have gone to the ownership or been shared with the team.  Don’t compromise your position with accepting gifts, travel and tickets without the blessings of the owner or the board.  This is an instant credibility destroyer with leadership or peers.  Patrick was accused of such and changed his pattern very publicly to ensure no misunderstandings.


 “For although I lack skill in anything, yet I have tried to do whatever I could to safeguard myself in my dealings, even the Christian brethren and with virgins of Christ and with religious women, who would spontaneously offer me gifts or throw some of their personal ornaments on the altar. These I repeatedly gave back to them, and they were offended with me, not knowing why I did so. But I did it from the hope of eternity, because of which I aimed at being careful of my integrity in all dealings, so that the unbelievers should not catch me out in any detail, and so that I would not in the smallest matter give a pretext to them to disparage or denigrate the ministry of my service.” St Patrick, Declaration


Commit to The Right Things 


If you are committed only to growing what you earn, you are committed to the wrong thing.  Earning is a by-product of being committed to the right things.


“For the sun is that which we see rising daily at his command, but it will never reign, nor will its splendor last forever.” St Patrick, Declaration


Commit to the growth of others.  Commit to the growth of the organization.  If you commit to these then you commit to people and ideas that will outlast you.  It’s not that earning isn’t important, but it should not be the ultimate objective.  Whether by death or other changes, one day you will no longer be a part of the organization so don’t make yourself centric. 


Build A Team


St Patrick developed a team to continue the work in Ireland. Among his team were   Beningnus, Auxilius, Iserninus, and Fiaac, (all later canonized as well).


“You know, and so does God, how I have been among you since my youth in truth of faith and in sincerity of heart. I have kept and will keep faith even with the heathen among whom I live” St Patrick, Declaration


He was committed to building up others to take on his role in the community and in the Christian institution of Ireland.  We must be about teaching others to give them the opportunity to fill our roles.


Sources:St Patrick’s Confession or Declaration - Two Latin letters survive which are generally accepted to have been written by St. Patrick. These are the Declaration (Latin: Confessio) and the Letter to the soldiers of Coroticus (Latin: Epistola),[7] from which come the only generally accepted details of his life.[8] The Declaration is the more important of the two. In it, Patrick gives a short account of his life and his mission. Most available details of his life are from subsequent hagiographies and annals, and these are now not accepted without detailed criticism.


St Patrick Centre