Someone once commented: “I left the private sector to work in the Church full-time, thinking that it’s a more loving, merciful and compassionate environment. After one year, I literally escaped, totally disappointed.”
On a separate occasion, I listened. “I don’t wish to get involved in church committees. I will give my financial contribution. Too much back-stabbing, bacchanal, and bitching (excuse the language)!” “Why?” I insisted. “After facing conflicts, infighting, competition and undermining behaviour at work, I come to church for solace, but what greets me is the same behaviour. I stay far.”
Still yet another comment. “Father, I thought I married the best man in the world. A Christian man. Active church man. Admired by all in the church. Can’t get a better person. I thought so until I pulled the curtain of outward appearance and went backstage. Surprise! A different man!
Hey! What’s happening here? I ponder.
Think of the four legs of a chair. Imagine that each leg represents one aspect of you. There is the human (physical and emotional), spiritual, intellectual and social or communal. Each leg has to be of equal strength to withstand heavy weight. Imagine that one or two legs are weaker than the others. A heavyset person sits. You don’t need to stretch your imagination to figure out the result.
There’s a missing piece of the puzzle in Christian formation. The human formation. More specifically emotional intelligence – the basic ingredient for human relationships. Emotional intelligence is to be aware of our feelings and manage them by marrying these feelings with reasoning. Mature emotional intelligence enables us to forge quality human relationships.
What’s happening in Christian formation? St. Thomas Aquinas writes: “Grace builds upon nature.” Imagine you have a bucket with several holes. You pour water into the bucket. Obviously, the water escapes. Lacking in human formation, we keep pouring grace into the human bucket of holes.
The way forward: Strengthen the human formation leg of the chair. Fix the bucket!