The number-one reason RCIA ministry is so overwhelming is our inability to say no.
I’ll bet you thought I was going to say lack of volunteers. Sure, more volunteers will help. But I once encountered a parish that had 35 members on its RCIA team. And they all felt overwhelmed.
The truth is, no matter how much or how little help we have, many of us never seem to get out from under all our obligations. The only solution is to start saying no.
Why we can’t say no
Saying no used to be really hard for me. But I got over it. I had to. I was missing out on spending time on things that really mattered to me. I was spending so much time on what other people thought was important, my own priorities got little attention.
If you’re like me, it’s probably hard to say no for some of these reasons:
- You don’t want to be rude
- You like the attention you get from saying yes
- You worry the project won’t get done if you don’t do it
- You worry the project won’t be done right if you don’t do it
- You don’t want people to think badly of you
- You’re afraid of passing up a “golden opportunity”
The real reason we can’t say no
But all of these are not the deep reason many of us can’t say no. What underlies all of these is a lack of discernment. God gave you gifts for a specific reason. What is that? What is your thing? What gives you joy? What ignites your passion? What feeds your soul?
Once I had a clear vision of what God was calling me to, what God had gifted me for, it was much easier to say no. Now, if someone asks me to do something that’s not my thing, I can say no because I know that’s not what God is asking me to do.
- Will you chair the banquet committee? No, not my gift.
- Will you write a bulletin announcement? No, doesn’t give me joy.
- Will you help out with the Christmas environment? No, I have no passion for it.
- Will you help start a new committee the pastor wants to form? No, doesn’t feed my soul.
It’s not about time; it’s about passion
Notice, that none of these “no’s” have anything to do with time. Maybe I have lots of time this week, and writing a bulletin announcement would only take a few minutes. Shouldn’t I sacrifice my desires for the good of the parish and say yes?
No! That’s the point. God gave you gifts for the good of the parish, the good of your life, and the good of the world. Every minute you spend not using those gifts, every time you “sacrifice” your time for what someone else wants you to do, you are not doing what God wants you to do.
How to find your passion
What if you don’t know what your true gifts are and what God is calling you to do? I wish I could give you a simple answer for that. The discernment process is different for everyone.
I know this one thing. You have to pray. A lot. And listen with your heart. A lot. And if you are feeling overwhelmed, that kind of deep listening prayer is hard to do.
So start saying no right now. Even if you accidentally say no to something that is what God is calling you to do — for now, that’s okay. If you don’t know what your thing is, your top priority is to discover your calling. Once you know what that is, you can start saying yes to only those things that God is asking you to say yes to.
How did you learn to say no?
I know that many of you have already figured out how to say no to anything that doesn’t ignite your passion. How did you learn to do that? What are some strategies you used? Share your insights, and help others as they start to say no more often.