The Cross as an Experience in the Leader

When success does not accompany leadership


“But we preach Christ crucified: a scandal to the Jews, foolishness to the Gentiles” (1 Cor 1:23).

Christian managers and businessmen are also called to preach, through our professional activity, a crucified Christ who, even today, continues to be scandal and foolish. Scandal because the cross does not seem to have a place in a world full of hedonistic messages; foolishness because, especially in the world of economics and business, failure is usually understood either as the result of an error, of making wrong decisions or as that step that sometimes must be stepped on to reach success.  We are inundated with messages, born from the post-truth culture, that do not help us look at Christ crucified, they do not invite us to discover the cross as an experience.

On the cross, Jesus experienced betrayal, mockery, loneliness, misunderstanding, abandonment, failure… Without a doubt, experiences very close to people with managerial responsibilities. How many times have we felt deceived, ridiculed, misunderstood, alone! How many times have we also climbed the cross!

The experience of the cross as an experience suggests at least three invitations for Christian businessmen and managers:

  • Called to look at the face of the crucified Christ: “His face is reflected in that of every person who is humiliated and offended, sick or suffering, alone, abandoned and despised,” recalled Pope Benedict XVI in the Via Crucis of 2009. Look at the face of the Crucified moves us to transcend our suffering to that of others. This is where any Social Responsibility action in the company acquires its maximum meaning.
  • Called to identify ourselves with Christ crucified: «The Christian has the face of Jesus engraved indelibly on his heart. He is not only alter Christus, but ipse Christus. Therefore, the ultimate goal of every man consists essentially in a full and total identification with Christ. With these words, Cardinal José Saravia reminded us of the essence of our baptism in a document with a very significant title: The face of Christ in the face of the Church. Christian businessmen and managers are called to be the face of the Church in the world of economic activity.
  • Called to hope in Christ crucified: «And Jesus, crying out with a powerful voice, said: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” And, having said this, he expired »(Lk 23, 46). The last words from the cross look at Father God. Because pain and death are not the last word. Christians do not worship a God of the dead, but of the living (Mk 12, 27). Our projects, our companies, are also called to be illuminated by hope, a hope founded on the conviction of the possibility of a resurrected life.

God reveals himself crucified and, as Pope Francis reminded us in his message for Lent 2024, “when God reveals himself, he communicates freedom.” That is why the experience of the cross must be a liberating experience. Not only because the cross is a place from which the love of God is manifested, but because the cross is a call to fight for the crucified. As entrepreneurs and managers, we have the opportunity to put our projects at the service of this task.

Pope Francis, aware of the crosses that businessmen have to carry, in his speech invites a delegation of French businessmen (07/1/2022) to maintain hope in prayer:

«I realize how demanding and difficult it can be to implement the Gospel in a competitive professional world. However, I invite you to keep your gaze fixed on Jesus Christ, with your life of prayer and the offering of daily work. He had the experience on the cross of loving to the extreme, of fulfilling his mission to the point of giving his life. You also have your crosses to bear. But have confidence: he promised to accompany us “to the end of the world” (Mt 28:20). Do not hesitate to invoke the Holy Spirit to guide your choices. The Church needs your testimony.

Dionisio Blasco España is Territorial Delegate in the Diocese of Malaga and member of the Executive Committee of Business Social Action