THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
SURVIVING AND THRIVING - 5
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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.