Throughout my years of Ministry, I have always tried to have creative ways to let my volunteers know how much they mean to me. I come up with catchy phrases, or buy wonderful multi-part gifts for them to let them know how much they are appreciated. My volunteers give of their time and talents to help this ministry grow and develop. They come week after week with smiles on their faces to accept the youth of our parish with loving, open arms. Volunteers ask our teens about their week, and are genuinely interested to hear what their answers are. They hold them in prayer and make sure that the youth know just how much they are loved and cared for. I often have read quotes and sayings about volunteers and how they are priceless. There is nothing physically possible to give to these special people who give so freely of their hearts and minds to serve. I have come to the conclusion that really the best present I could give is for me to be present to these volunteers. They need someone who can fill them up, and genuinely care about their week, and offer prayer when they need it. Our volunteers need me to greet them with open arms and to give of my time and talents to serve them. We all need companions on this journey, and volunteers need us leaders to be those companions as well.
One prayer that I have come to love is called “A Step Along the Way”. This was written by Bishop Ken Untener. According to the USCCB (United States Council of Catholic Bishops) website, “the mystery [of this prayer] is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him.”
The Archbishop Romero Prayer: A Step Along the Way
It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.
– Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw
No words that we say to our volunteers will make all of the difference, but it may make some. No smile that we give to our volunteers can alter their year, but it may alter their day. There are many statements of this prayer that really make me think and help me to continue being present to the volunteers, by walking with them and being a companion along the way. As the prayer states, “we are workers, not master builders; ministers not messiahs.”
We can be companions to our pastors as well – offering prayer, a smile, or a compliment. Oftentimes our pastors are just as tired, stretched thin, and multitasking as much as we are, as well as our volunteers. How have you made your pastor smile today? I know, for my Pastor, talking to him about Purdue University or McAlister’s Deli will put a smile on his face today and everyday!
Sometimes we do not see the difference that we are making in the life of someone else, but I can assure you that being present is the best present or gift of all!