Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 13, 2009
Parents, teachers shape children's souls for God
And volunteers, plus all those who touch a child's life, are to be revered
Our Young Church
By ROY PETITFILS
Chaim Potok, the renowned Jewish novelist, knew at a very young age that he wanted to be a writer.
It wasn’t until after he was already in college that his mother sat him down and said, “Chaim, I know you want to be a writer, but I have a better idea.
“Why don’t you be a brain surgeon? You’ll keep a lot of people from dying, and you’ll make a lot of money.”
“No mamma,” he said. “I want to be a writer.”
As mothers often do, she persisted. When he returned home from college one summer she tried again, “Chaim, I know you want to be a writer, but listen to your mamma, be a brain surgeon. You’ll keep a lot of people from dying, and you’ll make a lot of money.”
Again, Chaim replied, “I want to be a writer.”
A MOTHER‘S LAMENT
She wouldn’t drop it, and broached the subject yet again. “Chaim, I know you want to be a writer, but you’re wasting your time. Be a brain surgeon. You’ll keep a lot of people from dying and you’ll make a lot of money.”
This time, Chaim exploded, “I don’t want to keep people from dying. I want to show them how to live.”
Like many of you, there are lots of other things I could do with my time. There are other career paths I could have chosen that would pay more money.
A SHEEPISH RESPONSE
There are times when, I cringe when someone asks me “What do you do?” Often I say, somewhat sheepishly, “I’m a teacher.” Response, “Oh, that’s nice.”
This doesn’t just happen with teachers. This same thing happens when someone decides to become a youth minister. It happens when a young man or woman considers a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.
It happens when volunteers commit their evenings, weekends and holidays in order to “hang out with kids.” It happens when parents decide to make sacrifices in their career (or from even having a career) so that they may be more available to influence the lives of their children.
So perhaps this will help.
Next time someone asks you what you do, before you respond, stop. Consider for a moment that what you do is much broader and deeper than your “title” conveys. Consider that what you really do is show others how to live.
You don’t just teach. You’re not just a volunteer. You are not just a youth minister. You are certainly not just a parent.
You are a soul shaper.
The difference you make cannot be measured in a bank statement, on a transcript, a resume or even in a collection basket.
When you take the time to show one young person how to live, when you give of yourself to help shape the soul of one kid, you are sculpting a desperately needed image of God in our world.
(Roy Petitfils is a counsellor at St. Cecilia School in Broussard, La. For more of his writings contact him at www.roypetitfils.com.)
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