Making Church Matter

Back to Work

August 5, 2011

I returned to the office this week and, gradually, to my usual schedule. I still won’t be speaking this weekend though.  As it turned out, Tom ended up doing the entire series we are currently in (on the Old Testament) and will be wrapping up this weekend. I am very grateful to him for an outstanding job which made it possible for us to continue our message series through the summer and give me some time off. It also made it possible for me to really focus on the book, which I have been blogging about. Next weekend, by the way, we will be kicking off a new series all about the Mass, and taking a look at the changes to the Mass which will be coming as the new Roman Missal is introduced later this year. And yes, I will be speaking for the first two weeks of the series (Tom again will be speaking for the third and fourth week and then we’ll be kicking off our 2011-2012 season of messages on September 10 & 11).

Anyway, I am back to work. What do I do, you might be asking (maybe you’re not asking that question, but it’s a good transition to what I want to talk about).  One of the things we reflect on in the book is the need to redefine what pastors and pastoral staff people do, what their jobs should be because too often it is misunderstood. And that misunderstanding can lead to conflict and division, it can also keep a parish from really growing. Here’s the job description the Bible gives me:

God gave some to be apostles,
some to be prophets, some to be evangelists,
and some to be pastors and teachers,
to prepare God’s people for the work of ministry.
Ephesians 4. 11-12

People like to tell me what my job is all the time.  They think they know. And for a long time I let people go ahead and define it for me. Whatever they wanted me to do, whatever kinds of requests (or demands) they made, I went ahead and tried to meet them. I don’t do that anymore.  And not just because if I did I would run myself into burn out (again). I don’t do it because my job isn’t about meeting people’s expectations for what a pastor should be. It’s meeting the job description God has given.  And that is all about building up a community of believers who do the work of ministry. The work of ministry isn’t even my work, it is properly the responsibility of the community. My job is to get them ready to do that.

How do I do that? I lead and feed, that’s the way I like to say it.  I lead by setting direction and casting vision for the parish community; making sure we’re on task with mission and focused on our real purpose. Developing and investing in staff and volunteer leaders. Leadership should also come from the pulpit. Feeding is about sharing the word of God, also through preaching and the celebration of the Eucharist, God’s word made flesh.

When I concentrate on the thing I can do, and help people prepare for what they can do, we’re all working for the Lord, we’re all doing what he told us to do. So, it’s back to work.

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  1. Oh, no, certainly not, Fr. White: none of us are to tell you what your “Job” is!

    No, no!

    And, I personally apologize for all of we congregants who ask of you, who demand of you anything other than your faithfulness to your vocation; to your holy Priesthood.

    Yes, we need to be reminded of your vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

    A priest obedient to Rome. A priest bringing your people back to the Church via the Holy Sacraments, the Catechism, the sacramentals and The Gospel.

    We your people can not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ unless we partake of His True Presence and have a holy fear of Him in the sense that we Confess our sins and desire to Worship him and spread His Good News to all!

    We must never forget the Graces that God has promised us through our fervent prayers!

    Yes, Holy Hours of Adoration, Holy Hours of Bible Study and Holy Hours of praying of the Rosary pour down so many signal Graces and Heavenly Favors!

    Thank God for our priests!

    I'll end with something a very sage person once said to me:

    “You must pray all of the prayers that your Father has taught you.



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