11 Things That Moms Can Learn From The Pope


I have been having really weird dreams lately.

Last night I had a dream that I visited the Vatican and met the Pope.

Which is pretty awesome, however weird it may seem.

What I remember the most is that he was just filled with joy.  Just joy piled onto joy.  I loved talking with him because he was so genuinely happy…to the point that he broke out in singing, and just kept singing until the end when I woke up.

And I’m telling’ ya: watching the Pope bust a move is just as awesome as it sounds.

The Pope had such an infectious joy, I actually got out of bed still feeling it…half an hour before my alarm went off!

I like Pope Francis (in real life!).  He is a good leader, and he is really bringing back to light the art of love; which I think is fabulous.


1 John 4:8

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.




Part of learning how to love is discipline, which is tough love…and this is sincerely tough to hear.

Discipline is particularly tough for leaders. 

Because they are already in charge, sometimes (most times) they are doing what they believe is right.  But in every single leadership manual, booklet or lesson it is pounded into the reader how important balance is for a leader.  You cannot be a leader without working with someone, or a team of someone’s, to help you be a great leader.  You can’t have full domination and expect it to go well.  Not only are you going to start living in a bubble of yourself if you can’t hear anyone else, but the people you are leading don’t actually like to be dominated by bubble-theology, in general.

However, people love to be led, especially by good leaders.

Tony Robbins is a great leader because he leads others to be great.

Simon Sinek is a great leader because he leads others to be great.

Selfish leaders will destroy their team, and their legacy is going to be glum and barren.

Dan Pontefract wrote for Forbes.com recently, describing the “Damage of Selfish Leadership”:

           “You know, those individuals who only look out for themselves without really caring about employees or society in general? These are the types of individuals who like to dominate, sometimes for the sport of domination itself.”

He went on to say, with some Canadian hockey metaphors thrown in:

           “Here’s some irony to think about it. What if those puck and ball hogs acted the way they did in our organizations because that’s all they have ever been conditioned to behave like? What if they don’t know how to pass? What if they had no idea there was a greater purpose than simply winning?

And that was an interesting idea.

What if the leaders didn’t actually understand that the purpose was not to dominate or simply win, but the purpose was to create a team that created great things, and was made up of great people who encouraged each other to be great?

Pope Francis certainly laid the smack down on the elders of the Vatican recently.

What he saw was a church filled with selfish leaders.  What he wanted was a church filled with great leaders.

But this change has to come with rebuke before they can relearn how to fulfill God’s greatness of love in their ministries.

It really was a harsh list to read, there are no two ways about it.  Yet, while I was reading it I realized that these were great lessons for leaders…especially Moms.

Moms lead their children every day, and so often we can get stuck in these negative, selfish ruts that drive us crazy.

So, what can we learn from The Pope’s “15 Ailments of the Vatican Cura”?

1) You May Be Mom, But You Ain’t God:

The sickness of considering oneself ‘immortal’, ‘immune’ or ‘indispensable’, neglecting the necessary and habitual controls. A Curia that is not self-critical, that does not stay up-to-date, that does not seek to better itself, is an ailing body. … It is the sickness of the rich fool who thinks he will live for all eternity, and of those who transform themselves into masters and believe themselves superior to others, rather than at their service”.

What I read here is that if we are going to be great leaders, we have to start with ourselves.

We need to stay up-to-date with our job.  This may entail how to find good foods and good recipes for our families, or we need to find inspiring and uplifting things for our families to participate in, or ways to connect with our husbands and kids in more genuine ways; but more than these we need to seek to better ourselves.  You are an amazing woman, and it is important to remember that.  You matter.  So if you need to find a Mom’s group, or a Women’s Bible Study, or a local book group, or a group at the gym…these are going to edify you!  You need to take care of yourself just as much as you need to take care of your family.  Not only do you need to resist the Diva mentality, where everything is all about you, but you also need to resist the trap of believing that you don’t matter at all.  I can assure you, you matter more than you realize.

2) Do Not Become Too Busy To Love

‘Martha-ism’, or excessive industriousness; the sickness of those who immerse themselves in work, inevitably neglecting ‘the better part’ of sitting at Jesus’ feet. Therefore, Jesus required his disciples to rest a little, as neglecting the necessary rest leads to stress and agitation. Rest, once one who has brought his or her mission to a close, is a necessary duty and must be taken seriously: in spending a little time with relatives and respecting the holidays as a time for spiritual and physical replenishment, it is necessary to learn the teaching of Ecclesiastes, that ‘there is a time for everything’.”

The problem that Martha had was that when she had the opportunity to spend time with Jesus, she didn’t.  Instead, she worried about the dishes.

There is a time for work, and there is a time for family.  If you are working so long that you forget how to even talk to your children, how are they going to know you love them?  Spend time getting to know what your children like, what they are interested in, who their friends are.  Also, listen to your husband.  And let him listen to you!  We all have things to do…but don’t forget to love the people more than the work.

3) You Are Not A Machine.

The sickness of mental and spiritual hardening: that of those who, along the way, lose their inner serenity, vivacity and boldness and conceal themselves behind paper, becoming working machines rather than men of God. … It is dangerous to lose the human sensibility necessary to be able to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice! It is the sickness of those who lose those sentiments that were present in Jesus Christ”.

When you fell in love with your husband, I know you did little things all the time to show him you loved him.  You also took great delight when he did little things for you.  When you held your newborn in your arms, I know your heart swelled with indescribable joy whenever she smiled at you.  These joys can be lost over time, and we can forget what they even felt like if we aren’t careful.  We may even forget why this joy was so important, at all.  The joy we felt when we loved fortified our souls.  You are not a machine.  You are a Mom, and you need to remember the extreme joys of hugging your children, or spending time with your husband.  The smile my husband has just for me is one of the greatest joys I have.  When my kids grab my legs in little tiny bear hugs, it is a fantastic joy for me.

4) Your Children Are More Important Than Your Calendar

The ailment of excessive planning and functionalism: this is when the apostle plans everything in detail and believes that, by perfect planning things effectively progress, thus becoming a sort of accountant. … One falls prey to this sickness because it is easier and more convenient to settle into static and unchanging positions. Indeed, the Church shows herself to be faithful to the Holy Spirit to the extent that she does not seek to regulate or domesticate it. The Spirit is freshness, imagination and innovation”

Long ago we took a few of our little kids to Disneyland.

It was an amazing trip, and I will never forget breaking into tears while I was sitting on a curb with my daughter, watching the most beautiful Disney Parade go by.  I completely lose it with parades, I don’t know why; but watching the princesses wave to us, and the dancers leap in perfect choreographed dance moves drove me to tears.  I was so glad I could hold her in my arms and share this moment with her.

But I remember earlier in the day watching a Mom with her husband and two sons, and they were all miserable.  I heard her yell to them “You have 5 minutes to play, so make it worth it!”  The boys just wandered around aimlessly for 5 minutes, and their father looked beaten down.  That moment always stuck with me.

It is crucial to have a good plan, whether it is for a vacation or for a day-to-day schedule.  But if you sacrifice your family in order to fulfill your schedule, then although your schedule will certainly win and be great, your family will not.

5) Memos Don’t Cut It: You Need To Talk To Them

Sickness of poor coordination develops when the communion between members is lost, and the body loses its harmonious functionality and its temperance, becoming an orchestra of cacophony because the members do not collaborate and do not work with a spirit of communion or as a team.”

You cannot spend your days texting, emailing or leaving notes on the whiteboard in the kitchen.

There needs to be face-to-face communication and interaction.  This will keep your relationship with your husband and your kids fresh and real.  The body of a relationship is your body.  If you aren’t there communicating with them in person, the body of the relationship is lost.

6) Remember Your First Love

“Spiritual Alzheimer’s disease, or rather forgetfulness of the history of Salvation, of the personal history with the Lord, of the ‘first love’: this is a progressive decline of spiritual faculties, that over a period of time causes serious handicaps, making one incapable of carrying out certain activities autonomously, living in a state of absolute dependence on one’s own often imaginary views. We see this is those who have lost their recollection of their encounter with the Lord … in those who build walls around themselves and who increasingly transform into slaves to the idols they have sculpted with their own hands”.

This was the biggest rebuke, in my opinion.

Maybe because it is the one that convicted me the most.

Strong women often times tend to be the ones who build walls around themselves for protection.

However, they are also prone to keep building more and more walls, creating an impenetrable fortress through which none shall pass.

This fortress will become the island of loneliness, isolation and depression if left unattended.

Be aware of yourself.  I understand (more than you can imagine) how safe it is inside this fortress.

But I also understand how much a good friend  means to me.

Don’t forget your first love, of friendships.

7) “I Reject Your Reality, And Substitute With My Own”

“Existential schizophrenia: the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of the hypocrisy typical of the mediocre and the progressive spiritual emptiness that cannot be filled by degrees or academic honours. This ailment particularly afflicts those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic matters, thus losing contact with reality and with real people. They create a parallel world of their own, where they set aside everything they teach with severity to others and live a hidden, often dissolute life.”

Credit to Adam Savage, obviously.

Here’s the thing: if you create your own reality, you become a god in your mind.  You are living in your own parallel world, separated from reality.  This leads the heart to be hardened to what is actually happening around them, and there is no love in this situation.  The best thing to do is to accept reality…and change it, if it needs to be changed!  But recreating a reality bubble for yourself isn’t helping anybody.


8) Watch Your Tongue

Chatter, grumbling and gossip: this is a serious illness that begins simply, often just in the form of having a chat, and takes people over, turning them into sowers of discord, like Satan, and in many cases cold-blooded murderers of the reputations of their colleagues and brethren. It is the sickness of the cowardly who, not having the courage to speak directly to the people involved, instead speak behind their backs”.

Have the courage to speak kindness to your family.

I know that sounds outrageous…why wouldn’t you?

But sometimes we spend too much time correcting, and not enough time encouraging.  Use positive words, even in negative situations. “Thank you for taking care of this, I really do appreciate it.  But what I actually needed was this. How can we work together to do it?”

Don’t hold onto grudges, even for a day.  Talk about things with people as soon as you can.  Now, granted, a lot of time I need some time to process a situation, and then I can talk about it a little easier.  This is a genuinely loving way to show trust, empathy and growth in your relationship.

9) Don’t Be a Selfish Jerk.

The disease of indifference towards others arises when each person thinks only of himself, and loses the sincerity and warmth of personal relationships. When the most expert does not put his knowledge to the service of less expert colleagues; when out of jealousy … one experiences joy in seeing another person instead of lifting him up or encouraging him.”

I know this is harsh…but it has to be for this one.

If you are only thinking about yourself, you will definitely lose the sincerity and warmth of personal relationships.

If someone brings you a situation they need help with, and the only thing you can think of is how it impacts you…you are a selfish jerk.

And sometimes this is hard to see.  Most of the time you realize you are doing it after they tell you.  That is going to be hard to hear…if you hear it at all.  A lot of times the safest way to handle selfish jerks is to leave, entirely.

Be very aware of what your perspective is.

Are you actually listening to the people in your life, or are you being a selfish jerk?

Listen, it’s a whole lot easier to realize this yourself…than to hear it from someone else.


10) Funeral Face.

or rather, that of the gruff and the grim, those who believe that in order to be serious it is necessary to paint their faces with melancholy and severity, and to treat others – especially those they consider inferior – with rigidity, hardness and arrogance. In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity.”

If you never smile, you will forget how.

It is as simple as that.


11) What Are You Bringing Home?

The disease of accumulation is when the apostle seeks to fill an existential emptiness of the heart by accumulating material goods, not out of necessity but simply to feel secure. … Accumulation only burdens and inexorably slows down our progress.”

This can be accumulation of things, of shoes, of stuff…or of projects.  Do you collect projects in order to fill an empty spot in yourself?  It isn’t the most unheard of collection for busy moms.

Start by cutting down on what you bring home.

12) The Disease of the Perfect Mom

The disease of worldly profit and exhibitionism: when the apostle transforms his service into power, and his power into goods to obtain worldly profits or more power. This is the disease of those who seek insatiably to multiply their power and are therefore capable of slandering, defaming and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally in order to brag and to show they are more capable than others.”

I couldn’t put it better.

If you feel the need to multiply your power by slandering, defaming and discrediting others….the problem is now you.

Some people have gifts that you don’t have.  You have gifts that others don’t have.  This is why we need to work together, especially with our husbands and children as a team, to lift each other up and love each other greater.

A great leader will create a great team who believes in what they do.


“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”
Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


Pope Francis concluded with this:

I once read that priests are like aeroplanes: they only make the news when they crash, but there are many that fly. Many criticise them and few pray for them. It is a very nice phrase, but also very true, as it expresses the importance and the delicacy of our priestly service, and how much harm just one priest who falls may cause to the whole body of the Church.

My prayer is that you are a Mother who flies.


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