Leadership Lessons From St. Patrick

According to Wikipedia, Saint Patrick was a fifth-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Yesterday, March 17th (the supposed date of Saint Patrick’s death), people around the world celebrated the work of Saint Patrick through the wearing of green, eating and drinking green food and drink, and pretending to be Irish.

This year, I decided to study the life of Saint Patrick to see what I could learn about the Saint of Ireland. Saint Patrick was an interesting man, to say the least.

Field of green clovers

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

Below, I will share with you a few of the leadership lessons I took away from my quick study of Saint Patrick. I hope you find him as interesting as I did!

Leadership Lessons From Saint Patrick

1. Imagery is important:

One of the legends about Saint Patrick claims he used a shamrock to teach the doctrine of the Trinity. He showed the people of Ireland a shamrock.

The shamrock is a three-leafed plant. Saint Patrick used the three leaves, one plant idea to explain the trinity of three people, one God.

This visual stuck with the Irish people. They could see a visual representation of what Saint Patrick taught them.

Look for ways to implement visuals and imagery into your leadership.

You can explain complicated processes using visuals or ideas people will understand. You can draw a picture (even a bad one) to show the steps a process requires. Or you might choose to show a movie to explain important leadership principles.

2. Have a core group:

Saint Patrick had a core group of people around him. When he went to Ireland, he brought along priests, laymen, and seminarians. He didn’t go to Ireland alone.

Many leaders think they have to lead alone. They don’t. They can bring people with them as Saint Patrick did.

Find your people. Find those that will follow and challenge you as you enter new land.

These are the people who will help you stay accountable and spread your vision.

3. When you hear the voice of God, listen:

Saint Patrick heard the voice of God many times. He heard God tell him his ship was ready and helped him escape the pirates who had kidnapped him at the age of 16.

Later in life, he heard God speak to him again. God gave Saint Patrick a vision of the people in Ireland appealing to him to come to Ireland. He listened again.

Who knows what Saint Patrick’s story would have been had he not listened to the voice of God. Yet he did and his listening changed the world.

We have to be obedient. We have to respond when we hear the voice of God telling us to act.

4. Listen to those you lead:

Want to become a better leader? Listen to those around you.

Saint Patrick’s life is full of examples of him listening to those he was ministering to. He used his time of listening to help him understand the people and their needs.

Great leaders listen and learn what their people need. They use this knowledge to help care for and grow those they lead.

Listen and learn. You will discover so much if you sit back and let your people share with you.

Question: What leadership lessons have you learned from Saint Patrick? Share your examples in the comment section below.

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