We have probably all been in that situation where we were recognized for a good that we have done, or we were asked to take a seat at the dais. One moment I remember was at the end of a retreat weekend when Father thanked me at the end of Mass for my work throughout the retreat. In my humanity, I was humbled and grateful for the moment of affirmation, especially since so many loved retreatants were present with their families. But the other side of that is that we should accept our accomplishments in silence, humbly aware of what we have done for others through God’s guidance, and not be in the habit of tooting our own horn, so to speak.
My husband has always told me that I don’t need affirmation – I appreciate his sentiment, but my problem is that I grew up with a very low self-esteem, and it has burdened me since my childhood. So, when I am given a compliment or recognized for something good I have done, or given a special seat at the table, I feel myself wanting to squash that pride that I find myself experiencing, and just shyly hide in a hole, rather than politely accept the compliment or to be recognized or to be placed in a seat of esteem.
The great C.S. Lewis once said, “Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.”
Working in ministry brings out the best, and worst, in people. But, if you are working in ministry, the most important rule of thumb is to be Christ to others in all things. In our humility, we truly shouldn’t be thinking of ourselves at all, and most especially of our position – our focus is to end this journey knowing that we did our best to serve others, putting our pride and self-aggrandizing aside, and focusing on the journey forward and the final destination, for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Patty Masson supports the Passionists from Spring, Texas.