The Five L’s of Ministry

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He said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. (1 Kings 19:11-13)

By the time you are reading this article, I will have relocated from the Parish of Rose Blanche, where I have spent the last seven years, to the Parish of Deer Lake to begin a new journey. Over the summer, during which I took some time for annual leave as well as for the move, while with having conversations with friends and family, I came across a book called Inside the Small Church, edited by Anthony G. Pappas. I originally read the book while I did my internship (which seems many moons ago). The gist of the book is that there are four L’s in Parish Ministry: Learning, Living, Loving, and Leaving. In one conversation, a friend said to me that I forgot one L: Listening. 

There is a difference between hearing and listening. We hear a lot of things, but do we listen? Do we react to what we hear? If we react to what we hear, we listen. We can hear a lot of things and not respond, but when we respond, it is because of the fact that something has impacted us and we act on it. Listening is not only important in ministry. Listening is much part of our daily lives. 

God speaks to each and every single one of us each and every day. There are times we may mistake the voice for something else, like thunder, as in John 12:28. The question is: do we listen? Do you react to the voice of God in your life? How do you react to the voice of God? In learning about God, we listen. In living with God, in community with others, we listen. In loving, we have no other choice but to listen. In leaving, we listen, and sometimes the words spoken in the leaving are gems of wisdom and insight. To learn, to live, to love, and to live we listen, because in each we react and we all react to them differently just as we are different. Yet the listening leads to one thing—our vocation. To quote St. Teresa of Calcutta: “our vocation is the love of Jesus.” 

Let us listen. Let us listen to each other for the voice of God. Listen for the still small voice for there is much to be heard and much to cause reaction. 

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