September 7, 2011

Spiritual ambivalence (Part III)

Dear God,

With your abiding presence, I gradually overcome the ambivalence. Having recovered from isolation and  subsequently return back to the mainstream of normal life, I make it a point to be cautious in my involvement. I  even deprive myself of any involvement  that may  associate me with the past controversies. To compensate my unquenchable commitment in service, I become active in our social work professional organizations and  volunteer groups which later I lead.

You have blessed my endeavors with success as I start  to regain my confidence in leading organizations from local to regional and even reaching the national level as board of the  Philippine Association of Social Workers, Inc ( PASWI)  and National Association for Social Work Education, Inc. (NASWEI). I can  still recall  the experience of  going  to  Manila for a regular monthly board  meeting taking the first flight early morning and catching the last flight back home in order not to miss the night with my wife and growing kids.  I learn to balance my involvement with family life.

You know how glad I am when  elected to head the network of welfare and development  non-government organizations  representing  our social work association. It gives me opportunity to link with former friends and partners who are now engage in development endeavors.  Again, I have maximize my  commitment for service, as it were,  while enjoying  the new –found  partnership with  the government  which  we look at with enmity  before . You have blessed this new engagement with breakthroughs.  You  have even broadened my perspective  when  I get involve in the Provincial Development Council, as well as the Regional  Development Council.  I learn much from such experience as I widen my network  which later become useful when I return to my  first love.

Yes,  my first love - the pastoral ministry which unkind circumstances  take away from me. Amidst success in my work,  something bothers me. There is a guilt feeling of having contributed to the development of the outside world while neglecting  our community of faith. Returning to my first love is not that easy.   I can no longer recover the lost time and opportunities in working with churches. Hence, the decision to focus on pastors, guided by the belief that whatever developments in their lives will trickle down to the churches. However, my noble intention fails to erase  questions and reservation from some ministers. I fail to get the confidence of majority in my first attempt, despite  my clear and convincing direction of leadership.  Some  honestly  express their suspicion of  my past political leanings.

The experience never   dampen my spirit.  I continue my commitment to serve in some ways.  Taking cognizance of my sincerity, I get their overwhelming confidence  when in an unprecedented event, nobody dares to challenge my second attempt to leadership  and serve the association for two consecutive terms.  Having been deprived of the opportunity to serve by circumstances, I give my best. The best years I have ever given to a particular cause in my lifetime. Years that witness the commitment and dedication surpassing my other endeavors, paid or likewise voluntary in nature.

It pleases  you to  bless  our efforts with  unprecedented breakthroughs  in the organizational life and in projects and programs that galvanize  our solidarity. I focus  on improving the association. However, during my second term,  the harsh realties in the politics of our larger body confront me . The young ministers who possess  the idealism once we share in our youth challenge  my deep-seated principled stance on some issues.  Alarmed by the extent of mistrust on our leaders  due to their experiences, I find  myself on their side just as I always take principled stance in the past. Yet, my position as national leader of the pastors' association   constrains  my  full participation to their struggle. Yet, the  challenge never ceases until I  join the  politics of our larger body as independent candidate.

God, you know very well, what transpires in  the dirtiest and expensive election that ever happened in our denomination. But you let me win to bring the pastor cause in the attention of the policy making body. The experience in election and the political dynamics while  sitting in the board have reawakens my sense of justice. With the built-in trust of our association, I  advocate  the pastors' cause taking  principled stance on issues affecting the organization and Convention. This does not sit well with the ruling group. Having neutralized  leaders and personalities, and coopted  some oppositions, they have an upper hand in the leadership, policy  and decision making. They tend to lead by the tyranny of numbers quelling any attempt to block their way. Hence, I become their easy target. More so, when we frustrate  their devious scheme in many instances. Unable to cow me in various  attempts, they start  looking for weakest link in my personal life and even in family  to hit me in launching their  systematic attacks.

The stressful situation has  compounded the pressures in me. Apart from my employment and  responsibilities in voluntary organizations including our pastors association, I  open extension centers in various provinces  for pastor’s continuing education leading to masteral degree in socio pastoral ministries. There, I hold classes together with some volunteer  during week-ends and holidays. Eventually, my body gives in to  pressures.  I  become seriously ill but you snatch me from death, dear God.  Thereafter, the renewal of spiritual ambivalence  in diverse form and varying  degrees.