#3: Holy Hummingbirds through the Law of Legacy with St. Teresa of Calcutta

A 3rd way that we can grow in becoming “holy hummingbirds” for Christ like St. Teresa of Calcutta is through living out the Law of Legacy.

In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell concludes this fantastic book with my favorite law of them all: “The Law of Legacy.” Using Mother Teresa as an example, John Maxwell states that “a leader’s lasting value is measured by succession” (257). Mother Teresa was not only someone who lived the legacy that she wanted to leave as a “holy hummingbird” for Christ but she also ensured that this legacy was passed on through an entire order of thousands of men and women who have continued to live as “holy hummingbirds” for Christ. 

On a personal note, I was blessed to be in Calcutta during the death of Mother Teresa’s successor, Sr. Maria Nirmala Joshi on June 23, 2015. From talking with the MC sisters, I could tell how grateful the MC sisters were to have Sr. Maria Nirmala as Mother Teresa’s successor. 

In the book, From Christendom to Apostolic Mission, the authors capture the profound impact Mother Teresa and her MC sisters have had as “holy hummingbirds” in the harsh environment of our world today: 

“Mother Teresa did more than personally care for those on the fringes of life, as beautiful as that was. She went on to establish an order of Sisters whose life and way of being witnessed to a whole vision of the world (think “eyes of faith” as “holy hummingbirds”). By their homes, their prayers, their chastity, their simplicity of life, their cheerfulness, and their labor on behalf of the poor, the Missionaries of Charity have compellingly incarnated and expressed to others a different way of seeing everything. They have made common witness to the great treasure to be found in Christ, to the superfluity of riches, to the love of God for every person no matter how obscure; and for millions around the world, Mother Teresa’s blue and white sari has become an icon of the love and mercy of God. In an apostolic age, the Church’s most potent and truest witness comes in this fashion, in her communal life, all aspects of which point to the reality of the invisible world” (66-67).

Indeed, Mother Teresa is one of the great evangelists of our time because she lived as a “holy hummingbird” for Christ. In the harsh environment of this world, Mother Teresa “compellingly incarnated and expressed to others a different way of seeing everything.” 

Using Mother Teresa and her MC sisters as models for evangelization today, the authors further emphasize that “[t]he great apostolic task of our time is to gain a genuine conversion of mind and vision” (73-4) in which we “see everything differently” (79) through a Christian lens. Mother Teresa had this genuine conversion of mind and vision. She saw everything differently through the lens of her five finger Gospel – “You did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). She saw everything with the “eyes of faith”. And her MC sisters continue to carry on this legacy today throughout the whole world, serving Christ in the poorest of the poor with “the love and mercy of God.” 

How about us? Do we compellingly incarnate and express to others a different way of seeing everything? Have we undergone this genuine conversion of mind and vision? 

To conclude, John Maxwell states: “Life is fleeting. When all is said and done, your ability as a leader will not be judged by what you achieved personally. You can make a blockbuster film, but it will be forgotten in a few generations. You can write a prize-winning novel [or Catholic book!], but it will be forgotten in a few centuries. You can create a masterpiece of art, but in a millennium or two, no one will remember that you created it. No, our ability as leaders will not be measured by the buildings we built, the institutions we established, or what our team accomplished during our tenure. You and I will be judged by how well the people we invested in carried on after we are gone.” 

This is the greatest challenge a lifelong pursuit of leadership will face, but it is also the only thing that will matter in the end. 

To conclude: What is 1 thing you want to remember from this reflection?

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