Wednesday, May 25, 2016

See and Follow

Memorial of Saint Philip Neri, Priest
By Beth DeCristofaro
Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5)
Jesus said to (Bartimaeus) in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 1:51-52)
Ever creative God, your imagination has no limits.
Where I see black or white, you paint a rainbow of options. …
I want you to expand my imagination to see possibilities that at present I just can’t see - possibilities not tried before.
I want you to also open my ears so that should another see a way forward that I do not,
I can be receptive to that voice.
Even if it is spoken by the one I least want to hear right now.
Many years ago, I was conducting reviews for two women who volunteered for my non-profit organization. I will call them Judy and Linda. Each was a long-term volunteer, giving many hours and each had been at the organization longer than I, a paid-staff program manager.  They were committed and loyal although each had been frequently absent for a variety of reasons.  Linda was pleasant and engaging while Judy was brusque, spending time in the office only long enough to accomplish her duties and be on her way; this did not affect her work in any way.  My eyes were abruptly opened when Judy challenged my review of her work:  “You downgraded me on fulfilling my duties because I was gone so often but you did not penalize Linda who missed as many days as I have."
Busted!  She was close to right as to the facts and entirely right in essence.  The differences in attendance were so slight that my “review” was clearly biased toward the volunteer with whom I was more comfortable and who was “family.” While I did not cry out “help me see” as had Bartimaeus, I had always worked to be a good and continually improving volunteer manager.  Only by listening and acknowledging could I “see.”  My faith called me to accept the criticism, make it right, and learn.  Looking back, it was an opportunity to follow the footsteps of Christ.  I became conscious that I must be aware of my prejudices and make use of criticism.  The gift of humility opens me, opens us, to greater faith and builds up our spiritual house.
Pray to be open to see and hear, even if it comes from an unwelcome voice.  The next time you hear critique or advice, consider how God might be building you into His spiritual house.

[i] From Redeeming Conflict: 12 Habits for Christian Leaders, Ann M. Garrido, Ave Maria Press, 2016, p. 208.

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