My last blog post titled Stop Trying So Hard to Evangelize was a challenge to people like me who find it difficult at times to trust that God has things under control and realize that our role in evangelization may actually need to be minimized in order to be most effective. In light of this, I want to share a list I made a few years ago that keeps me focused on the more important aspects of ministry. In my desire and prayer for humility, this list of things that “I Can’t” do help me to be free to concentrate on the things that I should be doing. Here’s the list:
I Can’t Effectively Pass on the Faith Without Being an Intentional Disciple Myself.
In the book Forming Intentional Disciples, Sherry Weddell writes:
“If a living relationship with Christ, and, therefore, his Father and the Holy Spirit, does not exist, we have not succeeded in “transmitting” the faith. The faith has not been transmitted unless the Person and the relationship at the center of the faith have been transmitted. And we can’t successfully transmit the relationship at the center of the faith unless we ourselves consciously participate in that relationship.” (Forming Intentional Disciples, 53)
Each day, let us recommit ourselves first to being a disciple of Christ so that we can be more effective in transmitting it to others.
I Can’t Pass on the Faith Effectively to Everyone All at Once.
This is a point that has been made repeatedly on this blog. Using a large group model as the only means of leading young people to Christ can be extremely ineffective. The youth of today are desiring authentic relationships and friendships. Each day, I come to realize more and more the need to invest in a few, which may sometimes require less energy and attention on pleasing others.
I Can’t Lead Without Being a Learner.
It seems everyday I find myself using the recent knowledge and understanding I have gained of Christ in my life, youth ministry, discipleship, etc. to help others in their faith as well. It has taken time, but I realize now more than ever the importance of being a learner first and a leader second.
I Can’t Continue Doing Everything.
In order to truly grow in my own faith…In order to truly grow ministry initiatives in the parishes that I work with…In order to truly grow in my own family life…I have learned the importance of saying “NO.” For a tree or a plant to be able to grow, it needs room both above the ground and below. Over the past few years, I have made huge strides in my willingness to say “No” to people and things not only in my schedule, but also in those things that consume my thoughts, in order to make room for depth and growth in the things that are most important.
I Can’t Please Everyone.
It has taken me time, having some tough conversations, and facing some harsh realities to begin to understand that not everyone is going to like me. Being someone who is willing to question the way things have always been done puts a target on my back in so many ways. Although I tend to believe I am always right (my wife might argue that), I have learned that no matter how hard I try or do not try, someone will have something to say about it.
Each of these statements reflects a humble admittance of my own lacking and need for growth. They are hard things to swallow for those people who think they “can.” I pray that we can be a Church that recognizes our need for Christ to act in and through our efforts, making room for Him to be able by recognizing that we “can’t.”