Working for the Lord
The work of the Lord can be hard, hard, work:
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. -1 Corinthians 15:58, NAB
Ever notice how 10% of the parish seems to do 90% of the work. If you are part of the 10% doing the work, this can be frustrating. Why are the others not helping out? You see them at all of the events and Mass on Sundays, but why don’t they offer to help? Over time, this can become discouraging, and we may begin to work less ourselves. Eventually, this can be damaging to the life of the parish.
At my local parish, a few people that I know feel this way. They don’t feel that they see the fruits of their labors, and some are actually choosing to go to another parish. My question is who are they working for? Are they working for the parish, or for the Lord?
When these parishioners begin to feel undervalued, they might move somewhere they feel more appreciated. It may make them feel better, but how does it make God feel? Which parish needs the work more? The vibrant parish with the most volunteers, or the one struggling to find volunteers?
Just when their current parish seems to need them the most, they choose to leave. Now, there is one less person or family to help a parish in dire need of help. The situation only gets worse for those left behind.
Are you unhappy at your current parish? Do you feel undervalued? Well, first of all, realize that you are the parish. If you are unhappy with its current state of affairs, what can you do to help? Instead of jumping ship, can you stay behind to help bail out the water that is causing the parish to sink?
Listen, there are plenty of valid reasons to switch parishes – I understand that. One day, my wife and I may be called to another parish. But for now, despite some challenges at our current parish, we want to be part of the group that helps to turn it around. This is the work the Lord wants us to do. He wants all of our parishes to be vibrant communities, and I am going to do my best, in whatever small ways possible, to make that happen.
Are you feeling overworked by your parish? Well, you can always say no. It’s that simple. Do what you can. Don’t feel as if you have to take on everything yourself. Do not take on more than what you can handle. Maybe by not taking on the extra work, you’ll actually be opening the door for someone else to step up.
Recently, my Knights of Columbus council was looking for a volunteer to become our Youth Director. For a couple of months, the leadership looked for someone to take that role. At first, when no one else said anything, I felt an obligation to do it. Nonetheless, I decided to wait. A couple of months went by, and nothing happened. All of a sudden, four or five men stepped up for the role in one month. Now, they are sharing the responsibilities to get the job done.
Remember, you are working for the Lord. Prioritize the work that needs to be done. It is better to do a small handful of tasks really well than to do many tasks poorly. Focus on the ones where you can use your talents to have the greatest impact.
For me personally, I have made the work I do with this website my priority. While I can help in small ways at my parish, I can use the talents God has given me to make a difference somewhere else. Others, like my wife, do the same. She has done as much work outside the parish with the homeless and needy as she has done within the walls of our parish. Good work is still work for the Lord, regardless of whether it is within the parish walls or not.
Do what you are called to do. If God is calling you to ministry within the parish, do it to the best of your ability. Do not take on too much. Choose a couple of volunteer positions and do them exceptionally well. It is hard work, but it is work for the Lord. By each of us doing our parts, our parishes and our Church can thrive, and know that “in the Lord you labor is not in vain.”