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Living Abundantly as a Minister in the Catholic Church: Eight Best Practices
As you partner with Jesus to minister in his name, what does abundance look like for you? Over the years, through direct coaching and providing workshops and retreats, we have identified the following eight best practices for living abundantly as a minister. 1. Take up your cross and follow him. All three synoptic gospels include this sobering commandment from our Lord (see Matthew 16:24-26, Mark 8:34, and Luke 9:24). Jesus, as the best psychologist, offers this advice not as a dark, oppressive reality, but as a way to understand how to be an effective minister. Note that Jesus says “take up your cross.” So many times in ministry, we are tempted to take up another person’s cross, but this is not the commandment of our loving Lord. There is a fine line between helping someone and actually carrying their cross. We must pray for wisdom to see this fine line, so that we are not carrying the crosses of others. Furthermore, in all three synoptics, notice what Jesus does next. He takes Peter, James, and John and is transfigured before them (see Matthew 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9:28)! The Lord commands us to take up our cross and follow him—to the transfiguration! All the crosses we personally carry, when united to the one cross of Christ, will result in specific resurrections; that is a divine guarantee when we take up our cross and follow him. For reflection: What personal crosses do you carry? Do you tend to take responsibility for the crosses of the people to whom you minister? How can Jesus help you find balance? 2. Heal your major wounds. There are two responses to any physical, psychological, or spiritual wound: resurrection or infection. Choose wisely. Every minister has major and minor wounds in life. We need to intentionally address the major wounds and allow the Holy Spirit to heal them so we don’t hurt others with them. Healed ministers heal (through the resurrection), and hurting ministers hurt (through infection). Jesus wants us to devote the time and resources necessary to address and heal the major wounds from our family of origin, our past and present. Typically, wounds happen in unsafe relationships, so the healing will happen in safe relationships. In our lives, these relationships have been: spiritual direction, Catholic coaching (the best coaches are coachable), and mental health therapy (the best therapists are open to therapy). We don’t admit anyone into our sanctuary of suffering. We need to be judicious. A good place to begin to heal major wounds is with a trusted priest or deacon. If they are unable or not equipped to journey with you, ask if they know of a good spiritual director or Catholic therapist. If they do not, call your diocesan office of marriage and family; many times this office has a list of therapists who have earned trust over the years. As you go through the healing process, there is cause for great hope based on Romans 8:28 “All things work together for the good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” St. Paul knew the power of wounds in his life. He knew shame as a result of his previous zeal for persecuting Christians. He experienced betrayal and extreme trial and suffering in ministry. And yet, he had the faith, the audacity, and the courage to write that all things work for the good. In other words, not just the good things I do can be used by God, but all things work for the good for those who love God. This is a divine guarantee that all your past and present wounds can work for the good. For reflection: Are there any major psychological or spiritual wounds in your life that the Holy Spirit is asking you to heal?