FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
SURVIVING AND THRIVING – 8
September 20, 2013
I made it! We finished our Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, walking 107 kilometers in 8 days. It has been a most challenging, thrilling, exciting, spiritually enriching experience. God has shown many realities about our life and mission. Once again I share today’s 7 principles for “How to Survive as a Servant Leader, and Even Thrive.”
Principle #50: Strain forward to what lies ahead. From the start of the camino the goal has of course been to finish it. But as each day went by, with its challenges, oftentimes dire, getting nearer to the end, I was more and more excited. There was greater hope of really getting to the finish line. You must always keep your eyes fixed on the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling in Christ Jesus. You must continually press on, overcoming obstacles by the grace of God and the strength of the Holy Spirit. Each day ought to be a step forward in the Lord. Compete well, run the race, keep the faith. The crown of righteousness awaits you.
Principle #51: You walk with others and try not to leave anyone behind. Our group of 6 finished together. All the other days we had different paces and we ended the leg coming in one after the other. But today, at the end, we were together, reaching our goal as one. In our earthly pilgrimage, our brethren in community move at different paces. Some even slide back. Your task is to care for them all, and try to see that no one gets left behind, as we all make our way to heaven together.
Principle #52: Carry your people in your heart. My pains during the camino gave me greater empathy for the problems and suffering of my brethren. My pained steps helped me to pray for those in great need. You too will encounter difficulties and pain, at times caused by those you serve. These times can help you appreciate the suffering of others. This can intensify your role as intercessor, a go-between for God and His people. This can in fact help you to go on despite your own pain, as you perhaps realize that others have greater problems than you have, or that when you pray for others and not so much for yourself, your own suffering becomes more bearable. Love your people and help them in whatever way you can.
Principle #53: When everything else fails, look only to Jesus. On this last day, going just a short 4.4 kilometers, and having already experienced the miracle of God’s healing and helping hand, I decided to forgo any supports. I did not wear my regular shoes (just my loafers), had no socks (used to help prevent blisters), spread no Vaseline on my feet, sprayed no muscle relaxant on my back, did not use the knee supports, and had only one walking stick (even here, I brought it more as a prop to keep up the image of a peregrino. LOL). I made it! Friends may abandon you, brothers may betray you, sisters may malign you, community support might seem inadequate, encouragement might be nowhere. But there is always Jesus. He is the one you cling to. When disappointed or frustrated, you in fact should not quit, because by doing so, you actually are turning your back on the One who called you and is depending upon you. Just look to Jesus for approval and consolation. He never fails.
Principle #54: You are part of God’s army engaged in spiritual warfare. In Santiago there is a statue of El Templar Peregrino. The Templars were a military order of knights who protected pilgrims along the camino. They helped pereginos make it all the way to the end. You too, when you accepted the task of evangelization and the role of servant leader, became part of God’s army. Our task is to assault the kingdom of darkness, battling with those evil forces that try to bring down our brethren, and help ensure that God’s people, making their way on their earthly pilgrimage, make it to heaven. You in fact ought to be Gideonites. These were Gideon’s 300, when those in his larger army who were afraid or were unprepared were let go. You are at the forefront of the battle. God wants to use you to bring about His victory. Go and fight.
Principle #55: Look with anticipation and joy to the end of the journey. When I entered Santiago de Compostela, I felt like I was entering Jerusalem, or Vatican City. I felt that this was a foretaste of entering heaven, which after all is the pilgrim’s goal. I had mixed emotions of tears and joy, of pains and bliss. In actuality, the tears were of joy, and the pains were blissfully heaven-sent. We cannot imagine the great joy we will experience when we get to heaven. The journey is difficult, challenging and painful, but the reward is out of this world! Looking with anticipation to the prize will help you overcome the difficulties and trials. It can help you press on, to endure and persevere.
Principle #56: Look to the Eucharist for your strength. At the Cathedral we had the Pilgrim’s Mass, attended by pilgrims from many different nations. We ended our camino with the Eucharist. The Mass is the highest form of worship. The Eucharist is where we receive the very body and blood of Christ. This is the only time when Jesus is physically present in our midst, in the form of bread and wine. This is the way we literally become the body of Christ, when we eat the bread that is Jesus. Your strength can fail you, the problems you face can seemingly overwhelm you, at times you may feel all alone and lonely. But there is always Jesus whom you can receive in communion. He is your strength. Try to go to Mass and communion not just on Sundays but more often, if possible daily. There is nothing like being in such intimate touch with the Master.
Well, we did it. Yes we, you and I. I could not have done it without your prayers, which God heard and answered. I hope my prayers on your behalf also made a positive difference in your lives.
Our Camino de Santiago pilgrimage is over. But our earthly pilgrimage continues. As one of the Pilgrim’s Blessings say: “Blessed are you, Pilgrim, because you have discovered that the real Camino begins when the walking ends.” I pray that you have learned a lot, as I have. We are all so blessed, if only we truly realized it.
I hope to see you and walk with you along the path God has laid out for us. Buen camino!
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