If Time magazine had picked a different person of the year (say, Miley Cyrus or Syrian President Bashar al-Assad), today's talks about that person's legacy would look very different. But instead, the annual crowning went to Pope Francis, the first Latin American Catholic leader, who rose to the papacy in March of this year.
In just a short time, Pope Francis has been credited with changing the church's image from one that's out of touch to one that's humble and all about serving others. It's as if every week, he's making headlines for impacting the world in a positive way. Ahead, check out three pope-inspired lessons we can all learn from those headlines and incorporate into our daily lives.
Always Stand Up For Your Beliefs
The Catholic church doesn't typically speak out favorably about the role of gays and women in society — except for Pope Francis. In July, he made headlines when he said, "Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord? You can't marginalize these people." While that comment doesn't promise a sweeping change in terms of the Vatican's attitudes toward homosexuality, no previous pope ever made such remarks. It was certainly a defining moment for the church and a sign of where it's headed in terms of acceptance.
Let us not forget the November document in which Pope Francis outlined his plans for reshaping the Catholic Church; he called for "broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church." He got plenty of heat for it, sure, but that doesn't seem to be stopping him from speaking his mind on what he thinks is right, no matter how far it strays from tradition. In fact, it's what makes people love him even more.
It's Important to Remember Your Roots
Did you know? Pope Francis has a very modest background, having previously worked as a janitor sweeping floors. He also joined the Jesuit order of priests, known for their incredibly humble habits. And even in the grand Vatican, his lifestyle is not much different. Instead of the papal palace where other popes have lived, he makes his home in a spare hostel. Instead of a papal Mercedes, he uses an old Ford Focus. And you won't find him wearing those red leather shoes — nope, he prefers less-flashy black ones.
And in news that made everyone's hearts melt, reports recently came out that he was sneaking out at night to help Rome's poor. According to Huffington Post, "Swiss guards confirmed that the pope has ventured out at night, dressed as a regular priest, to meet with homeless men and women." It's something he did as a priest and wanted to continue doing as pope, because why not?
No matter what your background, there's something to be said (and learned) from someone who doesn't just talk about his down-to-earth persona but actually acts upon it.
Treat Everyone With Respect
You may have heard about the time the pope blessed and kissed a man with severe facial deformities. Or the time he washed the feet of Muslim women. Or even sent money to an elderly woman who was mugged on her way to visit her husband in the hospital.
There's a reason his actions often go viral — they resonate with us whether we're part of the Catholic Church or not. They teach acceptance of and kindness toward others, even when you're one of the most powerful people on the planet.