Poised to Lead

Poised to Lead

Sarah Heger, CSJ offered the following reflection on leadership ahead of a session at the 2017 Giving Voice National Gathering.

As the National Gathering planning committee worked on the title for today, “Poised to Lead,” I had the image of a runner at the starting line, in a partial crouch preparing for the work ahead–paused, thoughtful, a contemplative stance ready for action–potential energy moving to kinetic.  

In religious life, leadership has a very specific understanding. It is the name we give those few sisters who have been elected to make decisions on behalf of the whole. We can no longer afford for this to be our understanding.  

Leadership for our world and for religious life cannot wait for an election, a time or a term. It must move from decision-making to invitation and collaboration. Leadership cannot be a job for a few but a mandate for us all.  

If anyone can redefine leadership, it is this group. Sisters who participate in Giving Voice are committed, professionally incredible, prayerful women. We lead organizations and marches, communities and movements.

Our style of leadership is different than the traditional style of our communities. It is grassroots, collaborative, inclusive, and peer led. It is nimble in thought and action, ignited by possibility and mobilized quickly for action. It is supportive, encouraging, and new. We are all called to be leaders, to identify passion, to name need, to gather like-minded and hearted people and make things happen for the sake of the Gospel.  

Healing divisions and building bridges must be all of our work. Creating the religious life of our dreams and our future depends on the active leadership of each and every one of us. Today is about exploring those dreams, dreams grounded in contemplation and ignited to action. Today is about claiming your leadership, our leadership. Today we explore what leadership is and how it looks for each of us and for the issues and action items disturbing our hearts.  

I say with conviction that Giving Voice is a space where the future of religious life is lived today, namely in the way we collaborate and in the way we lead. Today, we explore that conviction.

Stories, video reflections and more from this year’s gathering can be accessed online at:


Sister Sarah is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.