CEO Catholic

by gary-foote on July 18, 2011

I was at Mass recently listening to a homily when a priest asked, “Are you a CEO Catholic?” Instantly, I started to think about Laurie Beth Jone’s book  “Jesus, CEO,” and then I started to think about who the CEOs of the Catholic Church really are. My wondering mind came back to focus as the congregation was told that CEO stood for Christmas/Easter Only. Suddenly, I didn’t want to be a CEO, but I did have a different take on what the priest was sharing.

 

I’ve had my fair share of interactions with CEOs (chief-executive officer). Some have been wonderful and some not so much. However, one thing is consistent when dealing with CEOs: acknowledgement. When a CEO walks into a room, everyone takes note. Just by his or her presence the atmosphere in the room changes and everyone’s attention is directed towards the CEO’s needs. The “regular folks” know that they will have an opportunity to meet once again with each other after the CEO leaves, but for the time being, their attention must be on the CEO. This led me to ask the question, “How often have I acknowledged Catholic CEOs?”

 

Unfortunately, in Catholic youth ministry we can sometimes get stuck in the rut of ministering and developing relationships with only those teens that we are use to, the “regular folks.” But when someone comes for the first time to Mass or a youth gathering (maybe on Christmas and/or Easter), they often times get overlooked. One of my favorite things to do when I am invited to lead a Catholic youth retreat or am asked to speak at a Catholic youth conference is to mingle with people before the event begins. Some people are extremely friendly, and we have a great time getting to know one another. Other times, I have received the cold shoulder and move on to find someone else who is willing to engage with me in conversation.  When the retreat starts or when I am introduced as the Catholic youth speaker for the event, people’s attitudes change. I’ve heard some people even say, “Oh, I didn’t know that guy was going to be speaking.” After I give a talk or when we take a break on a retreat, people swarm me because now I have become “someone” in their eyes. In reality, nothing has changed about me. I’m still the fun loving guy who is passionate about God, the Church, his family, and young people who I was trying to have a conversation before I was brought up on stage or to the front of the room. Now, I start to get the other type of CEO treatment.

 

What if we treated the Christmas/Easter Only “CEOs” the same way that we would treat the CEO of Apple, Verizon, or Starbucks? Would we start to change the way that people feel welcomed in the Church? Could we build community by allowing ourselves to become so interested in what the new person is saying that he or she might become more than a Christmas/Easter Only Catholic because there is now a place that he or she will want to call home? Isn’t this what Jesus did as He looked at the children, the woman at the well, Zacchaeus, and so many others? My prayer for us all is that we can always keep in mind that our CEOs deserve the CEO treatment.

 

God Bless you and all that you do,

Gary Foote

 

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