This back-to-school season, I am starting a series of blog posts for the academic year focusing on educational pedagogy through an evangelization lens. Drawing from my background as an educator, DRE/Youth Minister, and mom, I will be sharing how insight from education can support us as we seek to walk well with other people. The concepts can be flexibly applied to different contexts. For example, I thought of many of these ideas when I was a DRE/Youth Minister. In this season of life I am not actively engaged in formal faith formation programs through my parish; however, I am able to draw from the concepts while walking alongside my husband, daughters, and friends.
The initial posts in the series will frame the conversation by thinking about goals and mindsets for how we approach nurturing the growth of others, beginning with this first post about purpose. Having a clear sense of purpose provides a lens through which we see the world and that guides our decision making. We should think deeply about our purpose, remind ourselves of our purpose in times of pressure, think critically about solutions in light of our purpose, allow our purpose to inspire and motivate us, and have our purpose frame a sense of willingness to take a stand.
As a K-12 teacher, my literacy convictions were firmly founded in recognizing the overall importance of fostering life-long motivated and engaged readers vs. an over-emphasis on accountability based test scores at the expense of thinking about the longer term picture. Now, as a teacher educator I facilitate conversations among teachers and future teachers as they navigate this terrain. As a DRE, I recognized this translated into caring about authenticity in sacramental preparation, rather than an attitude of compliance (or checking off a list of requirements) towards reception of the sacraments. I co-created a mission statement, “To facilitate transformative family-based programs focusing on dispositions that nurture authentic Christ-centered lives.”
Though we could have a variety of individual purpose statements, we have one common purpose in life — growing in holiness and nurturing the holiness of others, seeing and helping others to see God’s truth, beauty and goodness. Intentionally supporting the development of relationship with God is a purpose to guide decisions, actions, and our responses.
A couple of years ago when I was reading and reflecting on the Gospel of John, one pattern that stood out to me was how Jesus continually demonstrated having a clear purpose and how that guided his words and actions. For example, among many other statements, he said, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work” (John 4:34), “I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me” (John 6:38), and “Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?’” (John 18:11). Jesus showed that He was not guided by what was easy or by what was popular, but rather, by His Father’s will.
Loving Lord, As we navigate our own lives and journey with others, help us to cooperate with your grace to transform us. Help us to remember that the goal of sanctification should guide our thoughts, words, and actions. Christ, be our light!
Copyright 2019 Amanda Villagómez