Yesterday, I attended a meeting for our Diocesan Vocation Enrichment Team. Fr. Carl Melchior, the Director of Vocations, offered a reflection on 1 John Chapters 1 and 2 (here). Concerning ministry, Fr. Carl mentioned the importance of a relationship with Christ. Everything, Fr. Carl stated, about ourselves proclaims a message about who we are - our dress, our lifestyle, our mannerisms, our reactions, our body type, the food we eat, the music we listen to, our friends - everything. If our lives are void of a relationship with Christ, as ministers, the messages that we intend to send about Christ will get lost in our inauthenticity.
Without a relationship with Christ, our vocation as a teacher gets muddied from too much work, too little pay, stress, complaints, and confrontations. Without a relationship with Christ, our interactions with colleagues, students, and parents can easily be seen as annoyances as opposed to opportunities. Without a relationship with Christ, we fall prey to the attractive messages of the world - money, power, lust, immediacy, comfort, ease.
We can't bring others to Christ if we aren't willing to follow Him, regardless of cost, ourselves.
Our relationship with Christ must drive us to do what we do in ministry. In this way, we must have a relationship with Christ. We must talk with Him (prayer). We must get to know Him (read scripture). We must spend time listening to Him (prayer and celebration of the Sacraments). We must receive Communion in order to be in communion with not only Christ but also each other.
Then, because of this relationship, we must be willing and desire to submit to Him.
We must serve Him.
As Pope Francis writes in The Joy of the Gospel:
Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others.
Let us muster the trust to follow and serve Jesus, because of our relationship with Him, into the breach. When we are willing to go there with Him and because of Him, there is glory on the other side (see the video below for the genesis of this quote).
In fact, giving ourselves to Christ, completely, is the only way that we can come to be our true selves. Called the Law of the Gift, we are our best selves when fully, consciously and actively engaged in loving service to another.
Love Him. Follow Him. Find yourself.