Last spring, I felt like I was being consumed by problems at work. Primarily, I was working through some issues that seemed to be spiraling downwards, and they put me into a slump. I didn’t know how things would be resolved, but I was in a pretty negative mood, and I wanted to get past it. I made two decisions that helped me re-focus.
The first decision was to take an on-line certification program in adult faith formation. An email I received spoke about a new opportunity to learn the in’s and out’s of this important part of parish life. It sounded good and I was ready for a new challenge.
The second decision was to teach a fourth grade class this school year. One of our volunteers announced that she would not be returning in the fall, and that created an opening. After praying about it, I felt like it would be good for me to spend a little less time on administration and get back into a classroom to teach.
This past weekend, I completed my last course through the University of Dayton. I will be the first to admit that I often struggled to find the time to get all the reading and postings done. But in the end, I learned a lot, and many of the concepts I picked up through these courses are now in place at my parish. Many more ideas are in the implementation pipeline.
To me, that’s one of the great things about self-improvement. You learn something new, and then you act upon it. One of the key concepts of these on-line courses is to focus on life-long learning. We all have the capacity to learn something new, and we should take advantage of it. Whether you jump on-line, join a Bible study at your church, or head to your local college for a non credit course, make a commitment to learn something new this spring.
My decision to teach fourth grade this year was one of the best I’ve made in a long time. Through it, I realized how much time I spent on administration. Unintentionally, I had become separated from my real love, and that’s teaching. Spending seventy-five minutes with the fifteen students in my class is one of the highlights of my week, and I’m sad when we don’t have class.
Another benefit of teaching this year is that it’s changed my perspective on our volunteers. I have a much better understanding of how decisions we make as a staff impact our countless volunteers. Teaching has helped me focus on finding ways my staff and I can support them even more. I guess it’s a win-win for everyone.
In the end, it’s all about self-improvement. I hope you’ll spend some time this week thinking about ways you can work on yourself. Whether it’s taking a class, volunteering somewhere, or simply getting out and taking a walk, just do something. Maybe you’ll find you’ll find a talent you didn’t know you had 🙂