Pope Francis is the man at the head of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. He is the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church (see Why Do Catholics Have a Pope), and has variety of religious and political duties, including but not limited to, meeting with the leaders of over 100 countries, appointing new bishops, conducting liturgies, and holding general audiences with thousands of Catholics.
Though having a Pope is a foreign idea to Evangelicals, there is much that we can learn from Pope Francis.
1. Be humble.
Pope Francis’ humble nature has turned heads, as he chooses to live more simply than past Popes. In Vatican City, Pope Francis usually rides in your everyday Ford Focus, instead of using a custom-built “Popemobile” with bulletproof glass. When Pope arrived in the United States, he chose to ride in a small Fiat over a luxurious limo.
After Pope Francis addressed Congress, he was invited to dine with Congressmen and women, but declined the invitation to serve and eat with Washington D.C.’s homeless population instead. He shows us that we are not to pursue money or prestige. Instead, we should embrace humility and strive to live more like Jesus.
2. Treat everyone with respect.
The Pope has made multiple comments about demonstrating love and respect to everyone. Gay or straight, Christian or non-Christian, child or adult, sick or healthy, wealthy or poor, Pope Francis says everyone deserves to be treated like a person and has demonstrated this himself.
Pope Francis has hugged people with diseases, kissed the feet of teenagers in a juvenile detention center, allowed a child to sit in his chair while he spoke to a crowd, and made a personal phone call to comfort a rape victim. The pontiff goes out of his way to show people that they are important to him and to God. All Christians should be sending this message.
3. Give without expecting anything in return.
Pope Francis shows us how to give freely and expect nothing in return. Last year, the Pope auctioned off his Harley Davidson motorcycle to fund a soup kitchen. He also started a campaign to install showers in the Vatican for homeless people to use. The showers opened in February, along with weekly professional haircuts.
Pope Francis gives these services to people who cannot give him anything in return except their gratitude. Many Christians give to the poor, but we need to remember to give cheerfully, remembering that we are commanded to do so in scripture (2 Corinthians 9:7).
4. Promote peace.
The Pope has called on Christians to be peacemakers, and said that prayer is a vessel for peace. The pontiff also spoke against the Syrian civil war, saying that using violence only sparks further violence.
On World Peace Day this year, Pope Francis dedicated the day to a different kind of peace -- the fight against human trafficking and slavery. He is committed to ending human ownership, an issue that all Christians should stand firmly against.
5. Don’t fear change.
The pontiff does not seem to fear our shifting cultural landscape regarding technology. While some Christian leaders debate how much technology churches should use, Pope Francis has called the internet “a gift from God” for all the potential it has to help others. He also does not hesitate to connect with young Catholics by posing for selfies.
However, Pope Francis warns that while technology can be used for good, it can also distance us from our neighbors.
Though Evangelicals and Catholics disagree on some aspects of Christianity, we can agree to apply these five lessons in our own lives. Humility, respectfulness, willingness to give, peacefulness, and embracing change can translate across all denominations of Christianity.
Publication date: September 24, 2015