A reflection on the book El Camino de Santiago
By Ayana de Ocampo, CFC FFL Fulltime Worker
We are all pilgrims in this lifetime. As Saint Therese of Lisieux have said, “The world is thy ship and not thy home.” The El Camino De Santiago – The Way of St. James (Lessons in Servant Leadership) book has allowed me to recall and ponder how am I as a servant leader. And by reading all those principles, it made me recalibrate how I should be.
Servant Leadership is not a very popular thing. The world has taught us to be on top, to be number one, to be the best. But sometimes, being first isn’t always the way to go. As one verse in the bible says, “So the last shall be first, and the first last.” (Matthew 20:16) The way of Jesus’ servant leadership and His teachings were so radical that in His time and up to now, still makes a mark on every person who has encountered Him.
There were a lot of principles mentioned in the book, but let me put in here at least five that struck me the most:
1. Principle #2: Everyone Still Has a Long Way to Go
I can never ever say that I have reached my goal in being a servant of Christ. In fact, the more I give myself for the mission, the more I see how big God’s work is and the more I realize that there’s so much work to be done—in myself, in others, and in the world. Also, this principle has reminded me that we should never give up on anybody. That each person has their own unique spiritual timeline. Some get there early on in their life, and some are beginning just now. This made me realize that no heart is too hard that it cannot change for the better. God has his plans for each person and all we can do is to do our best to make His love known.
2. Principle #11: Boast of your Weakness
St. Padre Pio said, “Humility, humility and always humility. Satan fears and trembles before humble souls.” It is hard, honestly speaking, to be humble all the time. We all want to be praised. We crave attention, we want to be recognized, or to even just be acknowledged for our hard day’s work. We want the world to see our strengths. But this principle is teaching us that we should boast of our weakness. I’ve realized that in being proud of our weakness, given that it be used in the right context, we are allowing God to shine forth. Because I am weak, and I have nothing special to offer, I let God do all the wonders only He could do. And I cannot give any credit for myself because I have done nothing. Boasting of our weaknesses, of our failures, of our struggles, gives God the stronger end of the stick, and us the weaker end. And I believe it is a wonderful thing for any human to admit that he cannot live by his own means, but only through the mercy and grace of God.
3. Principle #16: Pain is Salvific
Joy in suffering. Finding victory in defeat requires great trust and maturity. We sometimes repel from the idea of pain, of being hurt, or inconvenienced, or just the thought of not getting what we want or desire. This principle has taught me that life is not all sunshine and roses. Sometimes, there is darkness, and the roses has thorns. But despite that, darkness reveals our inner light and thorns remind us that a beautiful and purposeful life consists of the good and bad – for a rose is not a rose if it does not have thorns. Pain is indispensable for our salvation; just like the suffering of Christ was needed to fulfill the promise of eternal life. “There is pain but joy comes in the morning.” And with God, we will always overcome.
4. Principle #33: Press on to the Goal
The goal is always heaven. It always is and will always be. That is the one truth that will never change. The world may tell us that our goal in life is to get rich, be on top, make lots of money, buy anything in an instant, travel the world, be in power, live life the way we want. But, those are just shallow goals compared to the eternity of heaven waiting for us. The utmost goal of being once again in union with God forever – that is the goal. And everything that is in the world are just avenues for us to get there. To run the race, and press on towards the goal, will be tiresome, exhausting, and even take our very selves. But to whom do we belong? We belong to Christ. And to persevere and endure in this lifetime is a privilege given to those who deserve heaven.
5. Principle #55: Be Joyful to the End
A person who has Christ in him is a joyful one. The love of Christ allows us to be joyful despite trials. And the promise of eternal life fill us with so much spiritual joy that no persecution, no suffering, no hurdle too big can take away from us. All that Christ is asking of us is that we remain in Him and be joyful up until the end. A joyful spirit is a spirit that can take on anything the devil can throw at him. The Lord’s love will make us strong, joyful and holy. And that is enough for us to tread this difficult but beautiful journey called life.
I have realized that nothing can really make us worthy of what we have and what we are, as servant leaders or just simple servants working in the Lord’s vineyard, other than the mercy and love of God. Without His love, without Him in our life, everything is useless. If we do not have that love in our hearts, at the end of our life, we have arrived nowhere. To know God, and to serve Him is to love; to be radical like Him and to love like He does.