The other day, I was telling my Dad about how amazing it felt to have someone really believe in the work that I do. What sparked this conversation was a gentleman who made a conscious effort to make my life a little better. This gentleman saw me working with the youth in the parish, believed in the mission I am on, and wanted to be a part of that.
Even though he doesn’t have the time to devote to an active role in youth ministry, he said “What can I do to help you get souls to Christ?” He simply wanted to support my ministry and, in the humility of taking the help he offered, I realized I allowed him to join me on the mission of leading teens closer to Christ.
As youth ministers sometimes we think we want to be heroes – heroes who don’t really need help or support. My dad told me one thing in our conversation that stuck with me; he said “Jake, invite people to make a conscious effort in their day to make someone else’s day better. Wake up and say to yourself, I am going to make five people smile throughout my day. If people made an effort to go out of their way just a little bit each day to make someone else’s day just a little better, the world would be such a wonderful place.”
His words caused me to reflect on Mother Teresa who, shortly after her final vows and before calling Calcutta her home, would visit the slums of Calcutta every Sunday with one goal: “Give me strength to be always the light of their lives and so lead them to You.”
What my father was suggesting was just that. It’s all about sharing joy. More importantly, inviting people to join you in that mission of sharing joy! It’s not a smile on your face; joy is the smile of the soul. It’s bringing joy to people through the sincere love of Christ. This is the heart of evangelization. It’s not just about how we pray, how we worship or how we serve. It’s all about how we love and share the joy of that love. Invite the parishioners to share in the mission of youth ministry through sharing the joy of Christ with others.
I’ll close with a quote from Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “Don’t look for big things, but do small things with great love.” If you have lost your joy, take time for yourself, go on a personal retreat (or another conference) to recharge your batteries, be ministered to, and get some fresh ideas. Take the flame home and invite the parish to be a part of the mission of bringing teens closer to Christ in any way they can, even if it’s making five people smile each day. I pray for you in the ministry you serve, always praise God and embrace His grace!