This week’s Realign Resources for Mission Principle:
“A parish in the Diocese of Lansing makes and forms Missionary Disciples by having a process to get people serving others according to their gifts.”
Realign Resources for Mission Principle 3.4
Lay Ministry Coordinator, Diocese of Lansing
August 5, 2021
Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major
As we look forward to the future of our beloved Diocese of Lansing, some of us may be wondering what, if any, our role might be in that future. First, let me say I pray you are asking that question with hope and a sense of excitement! As you know by now, this whole process has been soaked in prayer and many hundreds of hours of consultation, listening, information gathering, revising and more prayer. There is good reason to be excited about the future. Change may be hard and look intimidating, but to quote a favorite old adage, “There is no growth in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the growth zone.” We have a chance to change and grow together in our own time.
Second, be assured you do have a role in the future of the Church in Lansing! Every one of us has been incorporated into the Body of Christ by virtue of our baptism, and each of us has been given the duty and responsibility for the building up of that body. The Catechism declares each of us “…must profess before men the faith they have received from God through the Church and participate in the apostolic and missionary activity of the people of God”. (CCC 1270) It is our sacred right and responsibility. If the idea of the Body of Christ depending on your participation for its health seems a bit daunting, again, be assured, at your baptism the Lord himself gave you the gifts necessary for you to serve your unique role in this work.
There is a chance that right now you are asking yourself something like “What can I bring to this mission, what gifts could I possibly have?” The clues to your gifts from the Holy Spirit, or charisms, lie within you already. Those places and situations where you have been allowed to serve, teach, pray, or speak in a way that brought joy and satisfaction to your heart. Those times when others have affirmed that you have helped them, encouraged them, or shown them the love of God in some way. Using your God-given gifts is a joy filled, energizing and prayer-like experience of being in the right place at the right time. It is the type of experience we get when we are working with the Holy Spirit for the common good of the body in the very way he has gifted us to.
In order to reach that time when we are able to use our gifts joyfully and most fruitfully, we need to begin to discern now what our unique gifts might actually be. And there IS a process for that! Many people in our diocese have been introduced to Sherry Weddell’s Called and Gifted program, or another strengths assessment such as Clifton Strength Finders. Through well tested programs such as these individuals can come to understand what they are best equipped and gifted by the Holy Spirit to do and the unique ways they can use their personal strengths to go about that work effectively and happily. It also provides great insight into how our co-workers think and act, which allows us to work together in better harmony. Being confident and secure in the things we are best suited to do allows us to say “no” to some things we might otherwise begrudgingly agree to. The begrudging servant is not an attractive discipleship model!
Another tangible benefit of each of us serving according to our own call and gifts is that it becomes obvious that there really is work for each of us to do. When well-intentioned Christians cease “doing the good they are not called to do”, others will come forward who have been gifted for that work. Others who may have been staying in the shadows while “they”— the over volunteered, sometimes haggard people who take on too much — handle things without their help.
The Diocese is at work right now crafting a way to offer both of these programs — Called and Gifted and Strength Finders — to each of our parishes in the coming months. It is our hope to have pastors, priests, deacons, staff, and lay leadership of each parish participate in these assessment tools. Details have yet to be finalized, but I encourage you to pray about being open to attending and learning this new language about how you are uniquely called to work within the body of Christ. It can truly change the way you feel about what you do, and may help you change the things you choose to do. We will announce the exact process for this soon, in the meantime feel free to contact me if you are interested in hosting a workshop in the future.
In closing, I offer the question I first heard Sherry Weddell ask a conference full of parish employees a dozen years ago. She said, “What if I told you that everything your parish needs to be exactly what God has planned it to be is already there? Would you believe me?” And then she explained to us, everything the Holy Spirit wanted IS there, we just haven’t learned how to call it out yet.
The time to learn to call is now, and it can start with you.
Watch: Father Jim Rolph is the Chaplain to Powers Catholic High School in Flint. He is also a member of the Realign Resources for Mission Committee. In this short video update, Father Rolph reflects upon the theme of this week’s Realign Resources for Mission Update:
“A parish in the Diocese of Lansing makes and forms Missionary Disciples by having a process to get people serving others according to their gifts.” (Realign Resources for Mission Principle 3.4)