My (Our) Struggles – Not to Be Confused with Mein Kampf

What a shame that an idiot like Hitler ruined such a good phrase: “my struggle” (of course you know that is the translation of Mein Kampf, his notorious autobiography/statement of his twisted ideology).

I bring this up because I am always amazed and also amused (and of course, touched) at the fact that I get more feedback on my blog posts in which I share my struggles or moments of weakness as a catechist than those in which I share stories of successes or creative ideas (see yesterday’s post and the comments that follow). I think this speaks to the fact that vulnerability resonates. We can all relate to people who are struggling, because at some level(s) in our life, we are all struggling.

Perhaps there’s a key here for us as catechists: we need to express our struggles to those we teach. We need to show our young people that we do indeed struggle with various challenges in life and that it is our faith in Jesus Christ (who became vulnerable and shared in our human struggle through his death on the Cross) that transforms those struggles into new life. Our vulnerability can resonate with them because they are at such a vulnerable stage in life.

Showing such vulnerability to our students can be tricky. For one, we need to be careful that we are not seeking solace from them. I have encountered teachers who share their struggles with their students as though seeking therapeutic support. That is innappropriate. When we decide to share our struggles with our students and reveal our vulnerability, it is to be a teaching moment: nothing more and nothing less. Second, we can find it hard to show vulnerability in a role that requires us to be the one in control! Appropriate revealing of our vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but of our wholeness and our humanity.

I can’t help but think of St. Paul’s words: “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2Cor 12:10) 

All that to say that maybe I’ll post more often about my screw-ups!

About Joe Paprocki 2366 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

2 Comments on My (Our) Struggles – Not to Be Confused with Mein Kampf

  1. Thanks for this great reminder, Joe. And I would add that there’s also great strength to be gained when we can share our vulnerabilities with our colleagues, the ones we minister with. I’ve found that it’s always best to work with a group you can be present to in both your strength and vulnerability–when both of those are welcome. I’ve ministered in places where it’s okay to be a victim but not okay to acknowledge one’s strengths, and also where the opposite is true (it’s fine to be strong, but never dare show a hint of weakness). What a blessing it is to work with a team where all of who you are is welcome–not in codependency or neediness, but in recognition that our human limitations and potential exist in each of us.

    Also, I LOVE the photo accompanying today’s entry!

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