The path to the deepest place in Abba-Father’s heart is the road of ministry — in other words, collaborating with him in his works. At the very moment when he conceived you in your mother’s womb, from the depths of his Divine Heart your Divine Daddy pulled out a piece of his fatherly love for humankind and handed it to you. And he gifted you with a very special purpose, which he planned long before your life began. A Father-child alliance.
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you. (Jeremiah 1:5 ESV)
The Father is calling out to you, inviting you to take his fatherly love into the world in a way that only you can do. Nobody else can do it like you. This is designed into your DNA. It’s why he gave you the parents you have. It’s why he gave you life at this particular time in history. He set you apart from others while you were in your mother’s womb and called you by his grace. (See Galatians 1:15.)
No matter how young or old you are, Abba wants his fatherly love to reach others through you. Throughout our missionary lives, the look and feel of the collaboration with Abba evolves but the purpose is always the same: “Reveal My fatherly love to others.”
When we figure out how our alliance with Abba works — what he created us to do — we gladly give up everything else that we thought we wanted to do because nothing is more satisfying than fulfilling this purpose.
You are gifted because the Father created you to be a gift. You are a gift that’s growing more valuable every day because you desire to use your giftedness in your special alliance with him. This collaboration is your ministry.
You are unique; therefore, your ministry is unique. No one besides you can perform this service quite like you. You are gifted in a way than no one else can match. Abba has linked your abilities and spiritual growth to the perfect ministry for you.
The question of our calling is not: “What should I do to take God to others?” Rather, the question is: “What should I take of God to others? What has he given me to share?”
When God does something for us, we should not be satisfied with just a “Thank You, Lord” — because he wants more from us. The world needs more. It’s important to add, “Lord, what do You want me to do with this gift?”
Whatever we have received from him is to be given to others. As Catholic lay evangelist David Thorpe used to say, “God wants to fill you to spill you.” That is, God wants to fill your life with gifts, in order to share the gifted you with others.
Abba wants us to make ourselves available so we can say what Peter said when he healed the crippled man at the temple gate: “What I have I give to you” (see Acts 3:1-10).
As Christians of the 21st century, we are members of a Church that is not just concerned about the souls of others, but the well-being of the whole person: spiritually, physically, socially and psychologically. We are not just concerned about humanity, but the well-being of the planet. Ministry is more than trying to get everyone to heaven; it is working diligently to bring all human life to its God-given potential, from the unborn to the elderly, from strangers in the poverty-stricken Third World to the handicapped children in our local schools.
To serve all these needs, the Church needs more people who recognize that the Father has gifted them. As Pope Saint John Paul II said to a group of U.S. bishops in 1993, in today’s world, “the vitality of a parish depends on merging the diverse vocations and gifts of its members into a unity.” We are all needed. Not all priests realize this, unfortunately, but our local parish should be our starting point for seeking an outlet for the purpose we were born to fulfill.
And if no door of opportunity opens there, then Abba-Father will give you a different door to use. It might be in an existing non-profit ministry or it might be to simply make your faith available to coworkers at your job. Or the Father might start a new ministry with you.
St. Paul summed up the mission of servanthood with these words: “Think of us in these terms: as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries” (see 1 Corinthians 4:1). We should periodically examine our lives and ask, “God has gifted me. How good of a steward am I with the alliance we share? Am I doing my part?”
Don’t underestimate your value
Too often, instead of listening to our Divine Daddy tell us who we are, we believe what our parents, teachers, and other significant people have said about us. A parent who says, “You’ll never amount to anything!” may have meant this as a challenge to encourage us to strive for our full potential, but the child in us absorbed it literally. The words destroyed our self-image, our personal value. Intellectually, we may have disagreed with the assessments of others, but deep inside, where the child blindly trusts those in authority, the child’s interpretation of the words has taken root.
We have many false notions about who we are and how important we are to the Father. Joy comes from being set free from lies and embracing the truth. The lies need to be erased by the power of God and replaced with his words.
If you were to make two lists, one naming your faults and the other naming your good points, the fault category would be longer, right? This is the way most people view themselves after a lifetime of being defined by others. However, this is not the way God sees you; if it were, he never would have called on you to collaborate with him in revealing his fatherhood to others.
Ministries are not built on faults. Yes, God uses our weaknesses, but not as the foundation of the mission to which he calls us. If he did, our ministries would collapse when times get shaky, like a house on a fault-line during an earthquake. Rather, Abba-Father bases our ministries on all that is good in us. He uses the skills we learn as building blocks. And he uses what we’ve learned from our faults and from our hardships — these become the rich tapestries that adorn the floors and walls. Anyone who “enters” the ministries that we build with Abba (anyone we serve) is blessed by the adornments.
How much time have you spent examining what is good in you — and believing it? Let your Divine Daddy teach you about how much he values you!
God knows us exactly and intimately. We don’t. Rather than assume we are so bad, so ugly, or so unlikely to be extraordinary servants of God, we need to take time to listen to him describe who we really are. We need to ask him to remove the blinders of low self-esteem.
Low self-esteem says that we are far from being who we’re supposed to be. It also says that we will never get there. Abba, though, esteems us highly: “God demonstrates his love for us this way: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (See Romans 5:8.)
Yes, we have sinned. Yes, we are far from perfect. But the moment that we chose to believe in the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus, the Father esteemed us so highly that he called us saints!
Do you think of yourself as a saint? Saint Paul said that all who are loved by God are saints (Romans 1:7). Both the Old and New Testaments refer to the people of God as saints. Accept the fact that this is how God sees you. Begin to see yourself that way! You’re a saint who’s still being perfected by the pilgrimage to Heaven.
To continue to live with low self-esteem is like telling God, “You’re wrong about me.” How dare we contradict God! He says, “As for the saints on earth, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.” (See Psalm 16:3.)
Abba has created you for a definite service
Saint John Henry Newman (1801-1890) wrote:
God has created me
to do him some definite service.
He has committed some work to me
which he has not committed to another.
I have my mission.
I may not know what it is in this life.
But I shall be told in the next.
I am a link in a chain,
a bond of connection between persons.
He has not created me for nothing.
I shall do good. I shall do his work.
Therefore I will trust him.
Whatever I do, wherever I am, I cannot be thrown away.
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve him.
If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve him.
He does nothing in vain. He knows what he is about.
God does the extraordinary with ordinary people
Abba-Father is more displeased with the condition of the world than you and I are – infinitely more. He is more grief-stricken than we are over the loss of so many souls who have been tricked by the father of lies. You can be sure that he is working a divine plan to rescue the lost in a very fatherly way. And he has gifted you to be part of it!
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:20-24 NIV)
Place yourself inside the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Not the returning son. You are one of the servants. The Father is saying to you: “Quick! One of my lost children is ready to return to Me. Bring the best robe – the best of what I am offering thanks to you who are a gifted partner in My love. Give him what you have that will help him see how much I love him and cherish him. Give him the wisdom, the knowledge, and the benefits of your experiences, shared through your unique set of talents and skills. Help him to see My great joy as I embrace him.”
Stop underestimating how important you are to the Father’s plan for restoring the world to his fatherly love. God enjoys doing the extraordinary with ordinary people. Do you remember Judas and Ananias from the scriptures? Not the Judas who betrayed Jesus nor the famous Ananias who keeled over after betraying the early Church by lying about how much money he could donate. The other Judas and Ananias.
Who? Many people don’t remember them, although they played a very important role in the earliest days of the Church. These were the two who ministered to a most undeserving, mean and nasty bully whom they should have feared because he was the biggest persecutor of Christians.
Here’s their story: One day, Ananias was having a nice, ordinary prayer time, deepening his relationship with the Risen Christ, when Jesus appeared to him in a vision and said:
“I want you to go to Straight Street on the other side of town, to the house of Judas. He’s got a visitor there that I want you to minister to.”
“Sure. How do you want me to help him?” Ananias may have asked.
“His eyes have been blinded, and I want you to lay hands on him to restore his sight.”
“No problem. You’ve used me to heal people before. I know what to do.”
“Yes, but the man I want you to heal is Saul of Tarsus.”
“What? You can’t mean that! This man has attacked our brother Christians in Jerusalem! And now he’s here in Damascus to arrest all of us! You can’t be serious.”
Jesus must have sighed, as he surely does whenever we think we understand situations better than he does.
“Go!” Jesus commanded. And so Ananias went.
He and Judas were the first Christians to forgive Paul for his persecutions and to trust him. God had given Judas the mundane ministry of taking Paul into his home. And he called Ananias to heal him and to empower him with the Holy Spirit.
These were two ordinary people, and after we meet them in Acts 9:10-19, we never hear of them again. And yet, what they did had a major impact on the whole world, even to this day. They gave Paul his initial push into one of the most powerful ministries of evangelization for all time.
What kind of an impact can you have on the world as an ordinary person in your alliance with Abba-Father?
I’m convinced that the reason why so few Christians serve God with all their hearts, minds, souls and energy is because we have an enemy that doesn’t want us to do it. He uses the wounds of our past and our misconceptions about God’s fatherhood against us. He uses our sins against us, even after we’ve received forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession. And he uses the sins we’re still committing when we’re only partially dedicated to our sanctification.
The Devil’s message: “You’re not good enough. You’re inadequate. God isn’t really asking of you what you think he’s asking. It would be better if someone else did it.”
Abba-Father’s message: “Way to go, Girl! Way to go, Guy! You’re simply amazing! That’s how I created you to be. Rely on Me and join Me in the great adventure that lies ahead. Together we will do something brilliant!”
When you were a child and your teacher assigned a difficult school project to you, was it easier to do it if your mom or dad cheered you on? Or when you cleaned your messy room and your mother applauded you with a huge smile, didn’t it make you want to do more because you delighted in pleasing her? This is how it is with Abba-Father. We have a messy world. God needs hard-working, all-in partners.
Several years ago after Mass one morning, a friend and I chatted in the shade of a tree. During our conversation, she told me that she was getting a vision. This was not unusual for her, and I valued the revelations that came from her visions. This time, she said that she saw me digging in the dirt, sowing seeds and tilling the soil. Jesus, according to her vision, was standing near me, watching me.
As she described it, I could see it, too, in my imagination. However, my interpretation of it was very different than hers. I saw Jesus smiling at me. He approved of me. He was delighted with how hard I was working in his mission.
But my friend said that Jesus was displeased with me. I was working too hard, she said.
Whose interpretation was correct? How could she see Jesus frowning while I saw him smiling?
I took it to prayer over the next few days and felt confirmed in what I had seen. Today, I still see Jesus standing with me in the garden that he gave me to tend. Smiling.
My friend’s interpretation was probably tainted by jealousy. I didn’t know it then, but she was pushing me away. Afterward, we drifted apart as she repeatedly saw my ministry in a negative way.
Meanwhile, I’ve continued to sow the seeds that Abba gives me to plant. My energy comes from knowing that I am Abba’s gifted daughter and together we have a special alliance that no one else can replicate.
Every day in my morning prayers, I ask the Holy Spirit to renew me and re-energize me. I also go to daily Mass to be renewed, inspired, and re-energized. One day, as I headed to the chapel doors, it occurred to me that I was about to enter a portal into another dimension. The altar and the tabernacle containing Jesus are at the center of this alternate universe. It’s the ideal place to spend time with my Divine Daddy while getting renewed and energized.
Sometimes during meditations immediately after receiving Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, my mind travels to the sunny field of colorful flowers where Abba-Father and I often meet up. He is seated on the blanket, smiling at me, arms open, inviting me to come and sit with him. I snuggle up to him and nestle in his white, flowing robes. We talk. He encourages me. His concern for me fills me with joy and new freedom to go back into the world to serve him with all my heart and all my mind and all my soul.
On this particular day he told me, “I’m glad you’re here. I have a beautiful day planned for you.” Seeing his smile, my energy grew. I happily looked forward to getting back to my office and digging into the work that he wanted me to accomplish. And by the way, whenever I plan to do something that is not in his plans for the day, something happens that interferes with it. More often than not, my schedule gets re-arranged, and that’s okay. This is my Divine Daddy working with me. He also withdraws from me his Divine Energy when I try to persist in doing what is not on his to-do list.
God needs hard-working Christians who tend to their gardens with all due diligence. With too few of us around, the Devil has been gaining more and more territory as a fake father destroying more and more souls. We all need to say yes to the alliance that Father God wants to build with us for restoring his fatherhood to marriages and family life and the Church.
Self-Assessment Tests for Discerning Your Special Calling
To help you figure out what you have been gifted by God to do, use this questionnaire. You can download a printer-ready PDF copy of it, which includes space for your answers, below.
Test #1: Getting to Know Your Giftedness
Answer the following 5 questions:
- Think of any ministry you are currently involved in, no matter how small or insignificant it seems to be. How does this ministry advance the Kingdom of God?
- Why did God call you (instead of your neighbor or another family member or another parishioner) to the particular ministries in which you’re already involved?
- What makes you special in the eyes of God?
- What makes you special to the people around you?
- What is it about your personality that contributes to this?
Test #2: What paralyzes me from saying yes to the right calling?
The two biggest obstacles are Pride and Fear. Use the following to determine how much these obstacles interfere in your life. Be honest. If your answer is somewhere between Yes and No, choose the one that is more-so.
- Do I think I’m so good at hearing God that I’m always right?
- Am I looking for His answers only in super-spiritual ways and not everyday events or people?
- Do I go overboard in responding to God? Doing more than what common sense directs?
- Are my priorities out of order, e.g., thinking material gain and other self-serving goals are more important than service to community?
- Am I waiting for God to reveal the whole picture first?
- Am I waiting to become perfect at hearing all God’s directions?
- Are my motives for ministering wrong? Do I want to glorify myself? Do I count on good deeds for getting me into Heaven? Am I motivated out of guilt?
- Am I waiting for God to tell me what I want to hear?
- Am I waiting for a bigger, more glamorous career?
- Am I afraid of what others will think of me if I get involved in a Church vocation?
- Am I afraid God will get mad at me if I respond to His call and then mess it up?
- Am I afraid of misinterpreting God, as if He won’t straighten me out?
- Do I believe God has only one “perfect” will for my life and ministry, and if I’m not absolutely sure what it is, it’s wrong to try anything?
- Do I think God is hiding His call from me?
- Am I so sure I know what God’s will is for my life that I get confused by obstacles in my path and the lack of opportunities to further my career goals?
- Am I afraid of the cost of service? Of not liking His choice for me or being given more than I can handle?
- Am I worried that God isn’t concerned about my needs and feelings?
- Am I saying “Yes but–” like Moses?
- Am I afraid that my ministry will be too big or too public or uncomfortable or distasteful?
Test #3: Testing Your Talents
The following is a survey of your gifts, talents and personal experiences. It can help point you to what your calling in ministry might be. It’s not all-inclusive, nor will it provide the final word for making any decisions. It’s to be used only as a guide to help you discern what the Holy Spirit has been preparing you to do, in combination with prayer and other forms of guidance.
Write down the first answer that comes to you; this will be the truest response, hopefully bypassing your intellectual or emotional prejudices. Be assured that God is speaking to you as you come up with your answers.
Questions 1 through 4 focus on where your desires for ministry really exist. Take seriously these desires. God created you to do a unique work that no one else can do the same way. And you are not really satisfied until you are doing what God created you to do.
- List the ministries you have been involved in. Then, put a star next to the ones you feel most passionate about (the ones that excite you the most).
- List the ministries you have ever considered doing, even if only for a brief time. Include those you dismissed as impractical or unrealistic. Then, put a star next to the ones you feel most passionate about.
- What ministries do you see others perform that gives you one or more of these feelings: “I wish I could do that.” “I feel there’s something wrong with me that keeps me from doing that.” “I envy the person who can do that.”
- What ministries have ever caused you to think: “I would do that, or I could do that, if only….”
Questions 5 through 7 reveal areas that have caused you the most growth, the deepest insights, and greatest ability to help others. In what ministry can you best utilize these?
- Name the worst experiences you have had in your life, the hardest or longest trials you have had to live through.
- What experiences or activities in your past led you away from God or caused you to lose faith?
- What do you regret doing that happened when you didn’t know God or when you were away from the Church?
Questions 8 through 10 indicate the know-how, skills and aptitudes you have acquired. Nothing is ever wasted, because sooner or later, sometimes in unexpected ways, God gives us opportunities to use these for His glory. Could these strengths of yours be used in a Church vocation?
- What do you enjoy most about yourself? (What gifts do you believe God has given you? E.g.: your faith, ability to have good relationships, organizational skills, love for serving, etc.)
- List the skills you’ve been educated in through formal schooling, self-taught, seminars, etc.
- List the types of jobs you have held. Put a star next to the ones you enjoyed most.
Question 11 deals with your passions. Whatever you feel passionate about is where you could serve in ministry with zeal. People often burn out in ministry work because they don’t have a strong love for it. Follow your heart to the type of service where you really care to make a difference.
- What bothers you most about this world? (E.g.: abortion, euthanasia, poverty, pornography, immoral television shows, lonely people, aging parents, hospitalized children, the popularity of the occult or New Age movement or satanism, the crime rate, violence in the home, substance abuse, sexual abuse, the divorce rate, inactive church members, non-Christian cults, adoption issues, bad government, AIDs or cancer or other traumatic diseases, children who lack faith in God, damage to the Earth’s environment, etc.)
Questions 12 and 13 give you a glimpse of how others see you and your calling. Listen to their feedback. They can recognize your areas of giftedness more objectively than you can.
- Do people admire something about you? What is it?
- Do people tend to come to you with their problems? Is this because they believe you are a good listener, you care, or you give good advice? What kinds of problems do they come to you with? What is the pattern here?
Question 14 takes a look at your dreams. Where do you think the inspiration for your dreams comes from? God, of course! Dare to put no limits on your discernment process. God will help you refine your dreams and guide you in reaching the right goals once you dare to believe in yourself and in your lofty goals.
- If money and time and space were not obstacles, what would you most like to educate yourself to learn? Or what kind of work would you most like to do?
* * *
A Prayer to Become God’s Instrument
O, my heavenly Father, I give all of my life to you
in the name of Your Son, my Lord Jesus Christ,
and through the power of Your Holy Spirit.
I have heard You calling me,
and I choose to follow where Your Son leads me.
I want to help others find their way into Your kingdom.
I want to serve others so that they can experience Your love.
Use the hurts and sufferings I’ve endured.
Use the talents, the resources, the time, the experiences,
the spiritual growth and everything else You have given me.
Help me to love all people unconditionally to reveal Jesus to others through me.
Help me to grow in my desire to love all people.
Today, and every day, help me to decrease so that You may increase in me.
Help me to love purely, humbly, and generously.
Show me how to receive more of Your love so that I have more love to give.
Heal me of every obstacle that holds me back from serving You.
I give You permission to change me.
Here I am, Lord, I want to do Your will.
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© 2020 by Terry A. Modica
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