At the ripe old age of 35 (and more pointedly, as the parent of 3), one thing I have learned is you can’t say “yes” to everything. There is only so much time in the day/week/month/year. As we become a community that excels at inviting one another into ministry, one consequence is we need to get good at figuring out which invitations to respond to with a “yes” and which to respond to with a “no”. In the Church, when we talk about discernment, that amounts to thoughtfully and prayerfully considering our response to invitations made by other people and/or God.
Last month, I urged us to more take on the Ministry of Invitation (i.e. to invite others to share their gifts and participate in the ministries of the parish). This month, I am urging us to take on the Ministry of Discernment. Both the act of inviting others to respond to God’s call and discerning how to respond, have spiritual dimensions.
To receive an invitation, we must be seen by others and being seen is itself something we should rejoice in. To be seen and valued is a wonderful thing in and of itself (whether or not we end up accepting the invitation). Yet, after being invited, after being seen, the question remains do we say “yes” or “no”? In my experience, I find that my initial reaction to being asked to get involved with ‘one-more-thing’ is often “I am just too busy”. Yet, if I am being honest, I recognize that while there is some truth to that, it isn’t the whole truth. Much of what keeps me busy isn’t necessarily essential to my health and wellbeing. Sometimes, I wonder if I let my ‘busyness’ become an excuse. Maybe we need to accept that there will always be more than enough to do and that we will always be busy. The real question is what are we choosing to be busy with? What is it that we are investing our lives in? What relationships, what activities, what practices? If we make our busyness the primary reason for saying “yes” or “no” we can miss out on some truly life giving opportunities.