Fatherhood has been a blessed gift for me as my daughter is now almost eight months old. Each day, I am faced with a little one who has very particular needs, and oh boy, does she let you know what they are! Babies are great communicators in that regard and their simple ways are gentle reminders of how we ought to be as Christians and as lay ministers.
What I am constantly aware of is a sense of gratitude for my wife, that we are a team raising a child and that even simple tasks are made easier with the help and encouragement of my bride. I would not want to “go it alone” and God provides just enough grace to make it all work.
I pray for my daughter frequently, simply petitioning God to prepare her heart for the day when she can be more aware of his presence and eventually say “yes” to welcoming Jesus into her own life. “Father, please hear a father's prayer – please give a father's blessing.”
As I think of what it is like to be a first-time dad and I tickle, cuddle and sing to my little one, I am mindful of lay ministry. I think of how we should never have the mindset of “going it alone.” We need a team of dedicated adults around us to pray for us, work with us and support our needs.
Consider too the need for prayer for those “in our care” in whatever scope that may be. If you are a Director of Religious Education, your catechists and students need your prayers from the secret of your own home. If you are a youth minister, your teenagers desperately need that note that you so often put off writing.
The mysterious figure, Jabaz, from the Old Testament gives us pause for inspiration. Almost all that we know about him is found in a prayer for God to “enlarge” his territory (see 1 Chronicles 4:10 for the complete prayer).
Maybe we should pray this same prayer for our ministry and for those for whom we care. Let us truly be prayerful that God might bring more teens to Christ, that more catechists might respond to the desperate need to teach the Gospel and that the territory of our own hearts might be enlarged to make more room for the power of Jesus.
Time to go – my daughter just woke up.
(Michael K. St. Pierre is a teacher of theology at Oratory Prep School in Summit, NJ, and co-founder of CatholicVentures.com.)