ColumnsDisciple’s Corner

Financial services professional: discipleship first requires apprenticeship

This is one in a series of Disciple’s Corner written by a guest columnist. The author this week is John Hlas.

Something to consider: discipleship first requires apprenticeship. It’s not a stretch to imagine the first of Jesus’ apostles needed to “apprentice” with Jesus, before they could truly and fully become disciples of Jesus.

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Jesus’ earthly ministry was not a long one, a mere three years. Three years wherein the apostles followed him, listened to him, watched him and were told to do as he did. As the apostle Paul taught, they could not simply believe the truths of Jesus, they had to imitate Christ by their words, thoughts and actions. We could say they had a three-year apprenticeship with Jesus, the Son of God!

In his insightful book “Into His Likeness,” Edward Sri presents an old rabbinic saying, “If you encounter a rabbi, you should cover yourself in the dust of his feet and drink in his words thirstily.” He’s suggesting that we need spiritual mentors and directors that we stay so close to we literally are covered in their “dust” — their thoughts, prayers, all that they do.

If only we had Jesus with us today. Wait – we do have him! Jesus is alive, and he has sent us an advocate: his Holy Spirit and his holy Catholic Church. We have holy Scriptures. We have each other. We encounter him in prayer and in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Jesus IS with us today.

A few years ago, around our 25th wedding anniversary, I vividly remember praying and dedicating the rest of my life to the eternal salvation of our souls – not just ours, but those of our children and grandchildren too. It was, and still is, my most important life mission.

My grandmother Hattie lived to be 106 years old. In her later years, she often asked, “Why am I still here?” I asked her if she still prayed for us, and, of course, she did. So my reply was, “Don’t you ever stop praying – we need it!” I was her grandson, yes, but also her apprentice, whether she knew it or not. Spiritually, she had much to offer, and I was a willing listener.

I was also blessed to participate in the archdiocesan IMPACT program, which provided great learning and spiritual direction. It was an opportunity to share our faith with others, meet with our spiritual directors and learn much about our Catholic faith.

Though I remain an apprentice in need of direction, I also believe there are times when I can (and should) provide mentoring and direction to my family and perhaps others in my circle, my community. We are all apprentices and mentors, leaders and followers.

Who were your mentors during your spiritual apprenticeship? What about now?

Who are those you should lead and mentor today?

 John has worked in the financial services industry, predominantly in the insurance field, for over 39 years. He currently oversees Veridian Insurance, headquartered in Waterloo, Iowa. John is married to his wife, Sue, for over 39 years, has one son, David, a daughter, Jordan, and three grandsons, Noah, Isaac and Gracen. John and Sue are community members of the St. Stephen the Witness Student Center in Cedar Falls. John completed the Dubuque archdiocesan adult faith formation IMPACT program in 2017.

The Disciple’s Corner is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Dubuque’s Office of Faith Formation and Education and is funded through the Archdiocesan Educational Development Board. It is designed to help catechists, teachers, parents, grandparents, guardians and other adults grow in their appreciation of their role as disciples of Jesus Christ.