This summer, I concluded my tenth year working as a Director of Faith Formation. As I reflect on my gratitude for all of the experiences of these past ten years in ministry, I have also been thinking of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. These are lessons I am continually learning, and sometimes I fail at them, but God never gives up on me!
- Pray or none of it matters. What good is my ministry if I am not doing what God wants me to do? And how will I know what God wants unless I pray about my work every day? If I’m not following the Holy Spirit, I’m wasting my time.
- Don’t get in the way of God. I enjoy planning events and preparing crafts, games, decorations, and experiences for families. But the focus can never be on these external elements. The focus must always be on connecting people to the reality of God’s presence in their lives!
- Walk the talk. People will never trust someone who clearly doesn’t live the life he or she is preaching to others. This has challenged me to step up and continue growing in my own faith. I want to be authentic and share my struggles.
- Meet people where they are. I often think I know best what the children and families in my parish need. But when I actually sit down and have a conversation with them, they are often not ready for what I have in mind. If I listen to their wants and needs and try to meet those, real growth in faith can happen.
- Have the conversation. In order to meet people where they are, I need to have honest conversations with others and build relationships. This can’t happen through e-mail. It is always worth picking up the phone or meeting in person to have an authentic conversation.
- Minister with, not to, people. When I try to do everything myself, it is too stressful, and I’m not allowing others to use their gifts to serve the kingdom. Instead, I can identify the talents and wisdom of others and build them up to be stewards of the Church’s ministries.
- Remember that nothing is perfect. This is a hard one for me, as I wonder if something is worth doing if it can’t be done perfectly. I have found God’s power really “is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). When I have to rely on God, the greatest moments of transformation occur.
- Recognize God doesn’t call us to be successful; God calls us to be faithful. Often in ministry I do not get to see the fruits of my efforts, and it can be demoralizing. I remind myself that I am called to plant the seeds, but only God can make them grow.
- Celebrate everything. When I do get a glimpse of the amazing movements of God in my work and in the lives of those around me, I try to take time to celebrate and praise God! These moments of consolation sustain me in this ministry, and I don’t want to take them for granted.
- Don’t be a sourpuss. My favorite line from a papal encyclical is Pope Francis’s admonishment not to be “sourpusses” but to radiate the joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium, 85). It is so easy to become discouraged and cynical, but no one is going to want what I have if I radiate negativity. Joy is contagious! How can I not spread joy when I have the amazing gift of Jesus Christ?
Photo by Timo Müller on Unsplash.
Thanks Pepe! Miss you!
A very realistic and down to earth article with practical tips. The author has given God His space to act and is aware of human weakness. Congratulations. It is worth reflecting and sharing on 10 Years of Ministry.
Wow! Excellent recap of all we try to be and do! Thank you for sharing!
So positive and hopeful, Darcy. Your parish community is blessed to have you, and so are we. Thanks for reminding us of these poignant truths about ministry.