The parable of the rich master and the dishonest steward helps us appreciate the relationship between the soul and ego in our own lives and how important discerning the roles of each are in vocation discernment.
Everyone has an ego just like everyone has a stomach and like a stomach its good if it’s not too big. The ego is our “manager” self. Its real job is to serve the priorities of the soul. But when the ego postpones visiting the soul through spiritual practice it becomes impaired and starts to manage life based on the resulting feeling of scarcity. The more estranged the ego becomes from its true purpose, which is to shape our lives and our world to mirror the relationship of our soul with God the more dishonest it becomes.
Discerning a vocation to religious life or priesthood can cause a huge ego crisis because the loss of so much control is at stake. Priesthood or religious life imply so many unknowns that it can put our ego into a tailspin. The anxiety and discomfort that follows is interpreted as being a sign that this can’t really be something that is good for us. Someone else, sure, but just not me.
Then we fulfill the end of the parable where we are asked: “if you have not been faithful with dishonest wealth, who will give you the true riches?” When we manage our lives based on what is important to God, we experience the true riches, what truly belongs to us, the complete love of God. Meeting this love with our whole self: soul and ego, leads us to delight in what delights God. We want to partner with God to bring about the kingdom in the most generous way we can.
We can manage our dishonesty by honestly saying that we scared. By not lying to ourselves we open the door to the Holy Spirit, and then maybe we can start praying that we are scared. And the more that we bring our fear to prayer it dissolves. What is left is a humble freedom born of trust that if God is calling us to live with a greater measure of unknowns then deep down, we must be capable of that.
By being honest to ourselves and honest to God something shifts in us. Just like when a friend is completely honest with us it is disarming. Then when we experience the disarming honesty of Christ, from Bethlehem to Calvary, we will notice our faithfulness growing from little things to greater matters as our ego tastes the true riches of soul.
By Mark Blom, OMI – Vocation Director OMI Lacombe Canada
To contact Fr. Mark for advice about discernment and vocation direction. He can meet with you by phone to conduct a short vocation assessment to help you find your way. Contact him at email@example.com to arrange for an appointment.