We know from this biography that Francis never speaks of those who hold positions of authority in the brotherhood as “superiors,” “abbots” or “priors.” We learn form the Earlier Rule of Francis that indeed he expressly forbids the use of the above terms among the friars Minor.In 1257, St. Bonaventure was chosen to serve as the superior of the Friars Minor. In this position, which he filled for 17 years, he brought peace and order. His impact was so great that today he is sometimes referred to as the second founder of the Franciscans. Bonaventure as a leader of the friars Minor he simply became “minister and servant of the brothers, keeping strongly in his mind that that the Lord came not to be served, but to serve, and to humbly was the feet of his disciples.
As a true leader after St. Francis, Bonaventure worked to preserve a spirit of unity and brotherhood. To promote union and communion among brothers he personally visited the brothers. He as a concerned leader of the future of the Order promoted the true teaching of Francis’ spirituality, intention and charism. He wanted the brothers to interpret the life, message and teaching correctly without leading to divisions and dissensions. Bonaventure learnt from Francis to a parental dimension to his leadership. By his example and guidance he did show that he was a leader with compassionate heart for the brothers. Like Francis Bonaventure was able to adopt a maternal role in guiding the early Franciscan brotherhood.
Today the need in the world, Church and Order is to have the leadership qualities that promote the salvation and communion among the groups. We need to emphasize the fraternal and maternal aspects of Franciscan Leadership. Bonaventure teaches us that authority is not exercising power over the others but leading us to a gospel understanding of leadership as humble and hospitable service to one another. From the teaching and leadership of Bonaventure we learn that a leader should and must question himself about his style of leading, guiding and animating. We are leading human beings and not buildings and huge structures. A true Franciscan leader does not focus on himself or herself but instead focuses on the brothers and sisters, their need, concerns are given priorities in order experience the Love of Jesus. A trueFranciscan leader should be aware and conscious of what he brings to his office by way of strengths and weaknesses, then he knows how to guide and animate the others..
The teaching of Francis is loud and clear about authority. He seems to drive home the message that a true leader is humble leader. St. Francis understood humility to be a sober and stable sense of oneself. Franciscan humility could be defined as: honest self-awareness rooted in God's love. In his 19th Admonition, Francis writes: "Blessed is the servant who esteems himself no better when he is praised and exalted by people than when he is considered worthless, simple, and despicable; for what a man is before God, that he is and nothing more. That last phrase is the key line: “what a man is before God, that he is and nothing more.” Francis forgot to add: “and nothing less.” St. Bonaventure promoted the vision and desire of St. Francis who equated leadership not with power and perks but with humility and selfless service after the example of Christ who stripped himself of privilege.
The Franciscans believes firmly that Francis insisted that the friars scrupulously avoid even the appearance of pre-eminence. No one was to be called “prior,” and those who were the “ministers and servants of the other brothers” were to consider themselves no more exalted than domestic help.
The golden words of St. Bonaventure: Whoever wishes to ascend to God must first avoid sin, which deforms our nature; he must pray to receive restoring grace; he must lead a good life, to receive purifying justice; he must meditate, to receive illuminating knowledge; he must practice contemplation, to receive perfecting wisdom.