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(Part 46)


September 17, 2013

Day 5 of my Camino. God is still speaking. And I am still sharing my reflections with you. Here are the next 7 principles for “How to Survive as a Servant Leader, and Even Thrive.”

Principle #29: The path to holiness is littered with worldly filth. All along the camino, because we are in rural areas, there is often cow dung on the path. I need to be careful and tread very carefully in certain areas. Likewise, you are called to holiness, but this is made more challenging because you live in a world full of ugliness, filth and sin. Even if you wanted to, you cannot isolate yourself from these. What you then do is to tread carefully. Be in the world but not of it. You in fact cannot isolate yourself, because your harvest field is precisely among those who are worldly.

Principle #30: The path to heaven is difficult while the path to hell is well traveled. There are many ups and downs along the camino, as well as smooth and rough places. While I had more difficulty walking on the downs rather than the ups, due to my knee joint pains, for everyone else who does not have a knee problem, it is easier to be going down than up. It takes less effort and strength. This is the way it also is with the paths to heaven and to hell, going up or going down. Going to heaven means taking the path of holiness, righteousness, discipleship and Christian perfection. The road to hell, on the other hand, is attractive and easy. Just enjoy sin, live a licentious life, and you will get there. Walking on rough places kept me focused on interceding for people’s needs, as I empathized with them with my own pain. On the other hand, when the going was easy, I found myself praying less. This is one reason the God who called you does not make it easy on you.

Principle #31: No matter how difficult your life in Christ and service to Christ, never give up. After the first day when I experienced extreme pain in my knee joints, I seriously doubted if I could go on, knowing that the pain would just intensify with continued sustained walking. After the second day, I was thinking of giving up my camino walk, as it just seemed the pains would not just go away. After the third day, I thought perhaps I could skip one leg (no pun intended) so that I could preserve both legs (or both knees) for the fifth day. But I decided to just try to rest on your prayers and have faith. God heard your prayers. The pain was not very intense and I finished that fourth stage. You too will have many challenges. At times you will feel you cannot go on, that the best thing, for your peace of mind and sanity, would be to give up. You should just endure and persevere. God will give you respite in unexpected ways. I am now more confident that I will finish the whole camino, but I cannot just presume it. We are saved, but we continue to work at our salvation, until we make it to heaven. Please continue to pray for me.

Principle #32: Your cross is much smaller than what Jesus endured for you. I had to use two canes to keep walking due to my painful knee joints. I thought, here are two pieces of thin and light pieces of wood I am carrying, while Jesus carried the cross, two pieces of large, thick and heavy wood. My suffering is nothing compared to his. Yours too. You might think you are being burdened so much. Perhaps. But think of the burden Jesus carried for you, and for those whom you serve. That will make your load lighter. Further, Jesus does help carry your yoke, so that your burden becomes easy and light. I have carried a cross on my neck for many years. When the old one broke, I bought a smaller one, which I wear today. Jesus had his great big cross, bishops have their large crosses, and I have my small one. My burden is much lighter, just like yours.

Principle #33: Keep pressing on to the goal or the prize. I had lagged behind, and our group was not in sight. I tried to hasten my pace, hoping to catch up. Later, they were calling out to me from behind! I had overtaken them without knowing it, because they had detoured to get their camino “passports” stamped. On the path of your life in Christ and service, there can be many distractions, oftentimes legitimate, such as family, social circles, rest and recreation. While you should not forgo these, don’t get so involved that you now neglect your service, or that you do not give it the time and attention that is due. Your life is no longer your own, but you belong to Christ. As a side note, I enjoy nature, and if I did not have the knee pains, I would have been off the main path a number of times, exploring meadows and forests and rivers, climbing trees and boulders. Nothing wrong with that, but it would have kept me from focusing on the camino, and even using the time to pray and reflect. God indeed knows best.

Principle #34: Have your rest but don’t overdo it. We had opportunities to rest during our trek. But I found that the longer I rested, the harder it was to re-start. On the other hand, even when I was tired and my knees were painful, I could make better steady progress if I just plodded on. Now you need to rest, to have times of recreation, to do other things not directly related to your servant leadership. Continue doing so, but don’t be absorbed in these, to the detriment of your service. You might enjoy your time off too much, especially as you think of the difficulties of your service. So have your breaks, but get back to work soonest.

Principle #35: Be faithful and loyal to your community, but look with favor on other works or ministries as well. During our trek, there were times when a few peregrinos were going the other way. A natural thought would have been, are you going the wrong way? But the reality is that they had already been to the end, and were now returning home. Know that your path is not the only one. Know that your wonderful community or parish is not the only great work of God. Know that there is a richness and variety of groups and ministries in the Church, which make her a rich tapestry of diverse threads, all woven into one. Thus, never compete, never think you are better, pray for other groups in the Church, support them in whatever opportunity given to you. You may be walking the path of holiness, but those brethren are already there. Cherish them and praise God for them.

Dear servant leaders, keep on faithfully doing what God has called you to do. It is the best thing you can do with your life.

Buen camino!

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