How many times have you heard it said in ministry: “You can’t give what you don’t have”? Everyone in ministry knows this intellectually. Everyone also knows or has known someone in which this would be an accurate assertion of their struggles in ministry. The final responsibility which the National Directory for Catechesis asserts of all catechetical leaders (CLs) is that they are to give “attention to their own personal, spiritual, and professional development” (pg. 225).
Wikipedia defines personal development as “ activities that improve self-knowledge and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and employability, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations.” In ministry one of the goals is to be an instrument for Christ so that others may come to know and love Him. Catechetical leaders need to take time throughout the year to be aware of the areas that will help them keep everything in perspective and have a good work/life balance. I’ve seen CL’s neglect their own personal development and get so focused on what is in front of them that their family and friendships suffer. Without the proper self-knowledge and awareness of the need to continually develop and grow personally we will not have the perspective necessary when ministering to, for and with the People of God we serve.
The Spiritual life is a journey of “casting your net out into the deep” (cf. Lk. 5:4) in order to become more like Christ, more holy, more faith-filled, more on fire for God and more united in mind and heart with God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Resources in the spiritual life abound from books to devotions to the offering of talks and retreats in each diocese. A catechetical leader’s call is first to this vocation of holiness. The more a catechetical leader develops their own spiritual life the more their ministry efforts bear fruit and multiply. This aspect of development cannot to overemphasized regarding its proper place.
Many of us get what we probably call “junk mail” advertising how to lead productive and concise meetings, how to work well with difficult people and how to resolve conflicts, etc., all touting professional development. We can learn a lot from some of these one day seminars. Most dioceses offer professional development opportunities not only that help you improve on your catechetical skills in the classroom but also those skills that leaders need in order to organize their program, equip volunteers and lead others at the parish and diocesan level. Granted our definition of success is not in terms of power or wealth but in terms of using our gifts to be a fitting instrument of the Gospel to those we serve. Even if you can’t go to a national conference seek to take time to grow and work on those professional areas that would benefit your ministry.
Each of these areas of development are important in the role of every catechetical leader. Through our own development we are better able to help others develop and become the best versions of themselves and help lead them to Christ.
What do you find is important in your personal, spiritual, and professional development?