Column: Are we guilty of asking for too little?

by Father Mitchel Zimmerman

When I worked in development before going into the seminary, the rules were pretty simple. First, don’t be afraid to make the ask. Second, don’t ask for too little.

These were the mistakes that almost all unsuccessful development officers made. In the first instance, they were afraid of rejection, so they never asked for the gift. In the second instance, they were afraid of offending, so they asked for too little.

Archbishop Naumann reminds me as often as he can that these days I am asking for something much more important than dollars. I am asking young men, on behalf of the archbishop and my brother priests and on behalf of the whole church, for their entire lives. I am asking them to give everything, without counting the cost, in obedience to Christ’s call for them to be his priests.

There are many days when I get sheepish. I can easily get satisfied by knowing that I have made the priesthood a more attractive option, or that I have told a young man that he should keep the priesthood in mind. But out of fear of rejection or of giving offense, there is always the temptation to stop there and to fail to ask men for their entire lives. I can easily make the mistake that I must avoid at all costs. I should never be afraid to ask. I should never ask for too little.

The number one reason that people give to something is because someone asked them to. That’s why when Jesus called his disciples, his call was simple. It was not: Keep me in mind, in case you have some extra time or money to give me. No, Jesus’ call was clear and total — “Leave everything and follow me.”

We do our young men a great disservice if we ask them for too little, if we ask them for less than Christ is asking of them. Yes, Christ asks for everything, but why shouldn’t he, since he has first given us everything and because he promises more than we could hope for? We must join Christ in asking our young people not just to do whatever makes them happy, but to trust Christ, who desires what is truly and eternally good for his children.

Let’s not ask our young men for too little! Invite a young man, age 15-18, to Project Andrew in Topeka or Kansas City the next two weeks. For more information, visit the Web site at: kckvocations.com.

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