To belong to a parish community, to be a people of faith, means that we are also called to share our time and our talents. How do you discern how God is calling you to bring forward your gifts? Discernment is a word Christians often use instead of “making a decision” or “picking a choice,” although it means more than that. Discerning something means taking the ideas, the options, and the choices to prayer in order to ask God where and how He is leading you.
God calls each one of us to a work of love that fills your life with purpose and joy. Discerning your charisms can help you discover that call. Charisms are spiritual gifts that are given to us to be given away, to be used and, in the using are a sign of God’s loving presence in the world. Discerning your gifts can be done in “six easy steps.”
Step #1: Pray for Guidance
The discernment process involves listening for God’s direction and guidance for our lives. In order to hear Him, we need to be tuned into His voice through prayer, Scripture, and the Sacraments. The New Testament describes charisms in 1 Cor 12 and Romans 12 that include service, wisdom, knowledge, teaching, administration, helping, and pastoring. This all points to the breadth of talents and abilities needed to build and be the Kingdom of God in our time and place. Praying for God’s guidance will help you to see more clearly your gifts, talents, interests, and the, “Hey, I might like to try that,” opportunities available. In addition, understanding your charisms can help you simplify your life and avoid burnout. If you know your gifts, it becomes easier to say, “no” when people ask you for things that you don’t really have to give. And because it is unusually energizing and fulfilling to exercise a charism, you are much less likely to burn out if you are working in your area of giftedness.
Step #2: List Your Options
Now that you have taken it all into prayer, make a list of your options, so that you can survey the choices in front of you. Our bulletin for our Mass of Belonging on October 4th is not going to be our regular “bulletin,” but rather a worship aid and a stewardship magazine that lists the ministries and groups that we have at Sacred Heart. That list will be a good place to start, but you may discover in your discernment process a call to start a new ministry that we don’t offer.
Step #3: Ask Questions
Start examining the options. You can continue to take it all into prayer. The answers to these questions will (hopefully) start pointing you in some direction. We’re discerning through these options along with God, so don’t blaze through the questions on your own. Take them to prayer, and ask God what He thinks. Ask Him to help you answer these questions. Be with Him in silence, read scripture, give Him a chance to talk. You can start with the questions below, and ask others as they present themselves. Also, consider asking a friend who knows you well to help you identify your gifts. Some questions to get you started:
– What are the needs of the church and its current ministries?
– Do I feel drawn to any of the ministries more than others?
– Do I see a gap in ministries offered?
Step #4: Next Action Steps
For the choices that remain, what are the next steps you would take to explore these options? What actions can you take to check them out? As we mentioned, we will have four ministry fairs in the weeks following the Mass of Belonging. At each fair, there will be people that can help answer any questions you may have and give you some background on the ministry you may be interested in. Continue to pray.
Step #5: Choose & Trust
Hopefully, an option has risen to the top. You don’t have to be 110% convinced that this is exactly the will of God and the absolute best decision you’ll ever make. As long as you’re spending time in prayer, remaining close to the Sacraments, and following God’s peace, you are on the right path. Now make your choice, and trust in God.
Step #6: Just Do It…And Learn
Once you have chosen, start and give it a while. Continue to reflect upon your involvement in ministry in prayer and in the Sacraments. The entire process will help you to deepen your faith, see more clearly, and grow ever closer to God. And then see Step 1. The process never really ends.
How will you get involved? Visit our Ministry page to explore all of your options to give of your time and talent to the larger parish community. We would love to have you.