Dr. Jay Strack —  March 7, 2013

Why should this generation care about the


when they believe their future is going up in flames?


An open letter to the College of Cardinals from a Protestant who believes that what happens in Rome still matters,

     In this fourth quarter of civilization, we are faced with increased secularism, division between nations, and corruption among the trusted and true.  It is because of this atmosphere that the College of Cardinals must appoint a transformational leader.   As President of Student Leadership University, I have listened to the concerns and questions of emerging young leaders who report disillusionment on a global scale, and I believe emphatically that the church needs the ancient wisdom of the ages from Solomon to Peter Drucker in order to regain its effectiveness for this generation.

     To choose one man to lead as the Pope is a daunting task, and I am in agreement with author Simon Sinek who wrote the provocative book, Start With Why.  The masses of the planet do not care about what you do or how you plan to do it, until they know why you want to do it.   At the core of this decision, the next generation wants to know why was the church started in the first place and what is its true value?   Many students do not believe in a denomination, religion or institution because they do not understand why Jesus came from heaven in the first place, or why He willingly suffered, died, and rose from the dead.

Is your candidate able to articulate with Waterford crystal clarity that Jesus is truly the answer to what troubles the world?   Humility does not preclude the ability to inspire others through both word and deed.

Would your candidate be willing to embrace a “tradigital” strategy that combines the traditions of the faith taught in the Bible in a language and a platform that can reach the digital generation?  Author Patricia Harris once called this generation “A Tribe Apart.”  Since more than 50% of the world’s population is under the age of 30, what steps would he take to engage a generation that has been described as an unreached people group?

What have been the defining moments in his ministry as a Priest, as a Bishop, as a Cardinal?  It is important to consider what successes in ministry this candidate has had that would define the impact of his ministry thus far.  The heartbeat of his mission will identify whether a man is a compassionate and courageous shepherd or just a custodian, holding the staff in place rather than leading forward.

        What was his role?

Who else was involved?

What results were achieved?

What was the process?

What were the biggest challenges that he faced?

What mistakes did he make?

What would he do differently today?

Is the candidate able to embrace reality, to see the church and humanity as they are before he attempts to lead where they should go?   To profit from what really is, one must seek to leverage positive realities and be willing to confront and solve negative ones.  Ellie Wiesel, Nobel peace prize recipient and author reminds us, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”   Will he express anger as Jesus did over the need to cleanse the temple?   Would he be willing to be sad for the tough choices he must make, yet prefer sadness for taking action rather than feeling sorrow for remaining silent and neutral?   How will he demonstrate and model how Jesus feels about the pain and the hurt that exists on this planet?

      Lastly, by way of this post, I am asking the thousands of Student Leadership University alumni and friends across the globe who believe wholeheartedly that “Leadership begins at the feet of Jesus” to join the College of Cardinals in praying for wisdom and clarity in your choice.  

Reader, If you were given the chance to submit one question or comment to the College of Cardinals, what would it be?

Dr. Jay Strack