Lector Discernment: Not Just for Newbies : Blog for Lectors and Messengers of The Word

Lector Discernment: Not Just for Newbies

by George Miller on 10/17/12

Discernment should not only be exercised with new lectors entering the ministry, but with veterans as well. The enthusiasm we may initially feel about proclaiming God's word may die down over time, we may lose our "salt," get attracted to other ministries, feel burned out or need a re-check of our basic proclamation skills; just to name a few reasons why lector discernment should be continuous and life-long.

Discernment in any ministry means being honest with ourselves and God about why we want to serve in it. It's not only an exercise to do at the onset of joining a ministry, but should be done regularly in light of one's changing life circumstances, views, values and priorities.

Some churches have elaborate discernment processes with interviews by church leaders, extensive orientation and training, licensing and certification; where others may simply suggest to the applicant to think about it and come to their own conclusions.

The following 20 questions can help us determine how well suited we are for the lector ministry today. As you go through these questions, pray for the Holy Spirit to enter your mind and heart, for the ability to take yourself out of your answers, and look to God for the right answers. Enjoy the process:

  1. How compelling is my desire to be a lector?
  2. Can I reject this desire and still be at peace with God about it?
  3. Do I have a conviction about this ministry from which I can't free myself?
  4. Is this a ministry I must do, want to do, or merely like to to?
  5. Are my reasons for wanting to be a lector personal (recognition, fulfillment, exposure, ego) or do I feel a true calling? 
  6. Can I accept and trust the advice of my church's leaders regarding my suitability for this ministry?
  7. Am I willing to seek feedback and critiquing from listeners, friends and family?
  8. Do I put in ample time to prepare my readings ahead of time instead of merely glancing over the workbook or lectionary for a few minutes before Mass?
  9. Do I have a basic love for Scripture that compels me to read and study it regularly?
  10. How strong is my belief that Christ is actually speaking through my voice from the ambo?"
  11. Am I committed to "stick with" this ministry despite its possible disappointments or inconveniences?
  12. Am I meticulous about noting my assigned reading dates in advance, always showing up, or securing a substitute when I'm not able to serve?
  13. Do I work regularly at improving my effectiveness, or do I feel I'm "good enough" in my mind?
  14. Do I strive to be an example of holiness and spiritual commitment both on and off the ambo?
  15. Am I performing this work cheerfully and enthusiastically out of genuine love for it?
  16. Do I view myself as a true servant to my fellow parishioners with a sincere and loving desire to "wash their feet" with the word of God?
  17. If things are not going as I expected, would I be better suited for another ministry?
  18. How important is the lector ministry to me? Where does it rank in comparison to other ministries in which I serve?
  19. Do I need a break form this ministry? Have I played out my excitement and interest? 
  20. Am I willing to serve Christ unconditionally wherever he wants me?

This is not an ultimate end-all list, nor is it a pass-or-fail test. There are many more questions you could likely add to these from your own perspective; and for the benefit of our fellow parishioners to whom we proclaim and ourselves, we need to ponder them from time to time to either confirm or reconsider our commitment to this ministry.

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The grass withers, the flower wilts, but the word of our God stands forever... Isaiah 40:8

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