Berwick Thought for the Week: St Columba, a model leader

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
I wrote this piece on June 9, the day the church remembers St Columba. He was the Celtic saint who founded a monastic community on the island of Iona in the 6th Century.

June 9 was also the day that Boris Johnson announced his resignation as an MP and a day after Donald Trump was indicted on criminal charges.

Leaving politics aside, St Columba prompted me to reflect on the character of national and world leaders.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Centuries ago, a bard lamented Columba’s death in the following words: ‘He, our rightful head, God’s messenger, is dead. The teller of words who took away our fear, does not return’…. ‘he gave kindness for hatred, he broke the battle against hunger, healer of hearts, satisfier of guests, shelter of the naked, comfort of the poor, their soul’s light, a perfect sage who believed Christ’.

Stephen Hewitt.Stephen Hewitt.
Stephen Hewitt.

Like Trump and Johnson, Columba was a complex and charismatic figure, and like them he made mistakes. In fact, he was exiled to Iona from Ireland after his part in a fierce battle.

However, once there he founded a famous monastery and exercised a powerful ministry across Scotland.

A later monk wrote of Columba that ‘he was of an excellent nature, polished in speech, holy in deed, great in counsel… loving unto all, serene holy’.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

How wonderful if we could write such words of leaders today!

Someone once wrote, ‘superficiality is the curse of our age’. Down the years I’ve had different careers and known several churches and local communities. Now retired, I often find myself reflecting on life through the eyes of faith. That is the impetus for the things I write.