When I was a baby youth minister just starting out in my early 20s, I got some great advice from Mark Hart at a LifeTeen Conference. He told us “too many youth ministers work a parishes and just walk past the chapel, but don’t walk in – be sure to make Mass and prayer a priority or your ministry won’t be successful – it’ll be about you.”
I really wanted my ministry to be successful, so I put Mass on my calendar and because the latest daily Mass at my parish was 9 am, I was a youth minister who came into the office early. I then signed up for an open holy hour on Friday afternoons to ensure I would keep the Lord at the front of my mind. I didn’t become the perfect youth minister, but these habits have held through my time as an Office Manager and now a Parish Coach. I have the event on my calendar to remind me to go to noon Mass and prevent my co-workers from scheduling meetings at that time as I’m not available.
I say this not to boast, but to illustrate how it’s possible. We’re all in ministry – whether we’re just doing the bookkeeping or just answering the phone or even just cleaning the bathrooms. Other Church jobs are obviously ministry like the Youth Minister or the Ministry Coordinator or the Pastoral Assistant or the Director of Stewardship. The truth is that we’re all ministers when we’re employed by or volunteer at the parish.
And ministers need prayer time. It’s the most fundamental thing we can do with our day. When we lack the time with the Lord our ministry becomes about us and not about Him.
Another thing I learned at that LifeTeen conference (which, btw, someone told me that employees there are required to spend 30 minutes in Adoration daily – and they do that as a team in their onsite chapel) was that there are a lot of good things you can do in your ministry – but that doesn’t mean you should do all of them. I’ll say it again for the people in the back, “Just because something is good, doesn’t mean it’s God’s will for your parish.” The only way to discern this is to be with the Lord and ask Him.
If we are going to Transform Your Parish then we need to be committed to relationship with the person who does the transforming – Jesus! And prayer is that relationship with Him. How does a busy person or staff prioritize prayer? Deacon Greg Kendra has some great ideas in his new book!
So how does your team prioritize prayer? Do you provide the flexibility in their daily schedule to attend Mass or take time for a Holy Hour each week? Could your team attend daily Mass one day a week together with the office closed? Could you start the day off with a short gathering to read the Gospel of the day and pray for the ministry you’ll do that day? If you fit this into your parish’s life already, how? Share your wisdom with the rest of us!!