Thursday, August 26, 2010

Faithfulness Not Success

"Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." Revelation 2: 10b

It is easy in the world we live in to be driven by how much we produce. Whether it is getting everything done at work, completely our school projects, doing our homework, helping around the house: we are judged by how much we can accomplish. Obviously some of this is necessary. We have to get graded on our school work, at work most of get evaluated on our job performance and when we are young our parents certainly seem to appreciate us more when we are helping out around the house.

Even in the Christian "world" we can get caught up in how much we produce for the Kingdom. How many people have I told about Christ? How many minutes did I read my Bible today? How many service projects have I done this month? We want to help people know Christ and to be saved. Is this bad? Of course not. We are called to evangelize others and to make efforts to change our secular culture of death to build a civilization of love (as Pope John Paul II put it). But do we get too caught up in our successes and failures?

It is natural to feel elated when something we are working on goes good. And it is natural to feel a sense of remorse or even regret when things do not go as planned. But the key to spiritual balance is in the middle. In other words, we need to be passionate about what God is calling us to do, while at the same time, being detached from the results (or lack thereof). This is the only way to keep going spiritually. The reality (and this is hard for some of us to accept sometimes) is that we do not save anyone. Only Jesus does. And in and of themselves, our works, even if directed towards good and for the Kingdom, cannot affect anything without the grace of God. We are called to dig, to plant seeds, to water and to fertilize. But it is God who creates and it is God who grows. And there will always be more to do and more to accomplish. At times, we can even become overwhelmed by the thought of it all.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta (who would have been 100 today) once said, "We are called upon not to be successful, but to be faithful." Let us keep her profound words in mind when we are doing the Lord's work. With this as our ministry motto, we can be humble with the successes and we can be peaceful with the failures. It doesn't mean we don't work hard to be better or correct mistakes or use God's gifts to us to the best of our abilities. It just means we let go of the pride when the results are not what we had wanted them to be. And it means we keep our sights on being faithful to Christ, not on the results of our labors.

Dear Jesus, give me the grace today to be faithful. Like Mother Teresa, help me to be a pencil in Your hand and help me to work hard to build up the Kingdom, without worrying about the results. Amen.

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