During one Philippine Airlines leadership seminar, our speaker, Tita Datu Puangco, said unity is the heart of leadership. She said unity starts with personal integration, which is one’s “ability to enhance personal awareness, get grounded, process struggles and resolve dilemmas”. I agree that unity has to start within us. Our heart might want to do one thing, but the mind does another. Our tongues spread goodness, but our actions show hatred. Grounded persons who have control of their private worlds, so to speak, display so much confidence in how and why they do things. Especially for leaders whose conduct can greatly affect those within their spheres of influence, their hearts and minds must be united, their words and actions must be one.
Similar to what author Gordon MacDonald said in his book Ordering Your Private World, Ms. Puangco narrated in that seminar that leaders simply have to stay grounded in the belief that there is one Supreme Being who allows things to happen, like it or not. Ms. Puangco arrived a bit late for that seminar, as she was stuck in traffic, which she knew she had no control over. As she felt hopeless and anxious then, she narrated to us that she simply prayed and remembered that God is always in control. In one wedding I recently attended, the pastor said God orchestrated and will orchestrate everything. In so many words, the pastor said that we will all end up having an organized “inner world” as soon as we understand that we are mere instruments. When we have full control of our inner world, we gain confidence and assurance that everything happens according to His will.
I have a number of Catholic friends who observed the Lenten season by observing the traditional fasting and abstinence. As I was taught while growing up, fasting entails doing with less, while abstinence entails doing without. Canon 97 of the Catholic Church requires those ages from 18 to 59 to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, while Canons 1250 to 1253 expect all Catholics over the age of 14 to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays throughout the Lenten season. I also learned during my childhood days that fasting and abstinence allow us to be reminded of what it means to suffer. And that our token suffering allows us to somehow experience and better understand the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
A few of my friends and relatives performed their Lenten obligations in exchange for a certain thing they prayed for, while others fasted simply because they grew up doing such Lenten ritual. But as I continue my studies of His Word, fasting is not just about remembering the suffering of Jesus Christ, it is more about walking in the footsteps of our Lord. Tough mission, I must say. But our Almighty God does not require perfection from us, just progression.
A University of the Philippines graduate with a degree in Economics, Kay Abella’s religious views, as found in her FB page, says, “Just Jesus”. A few years ago, she gave up a decent-paying job conducting training seminars in the Meralco Management and Leadership Development Center Foundation Inc. While she still aspired to be Christ-like in all her deeds in the corporate world, she soon realized that there must be a better way to follow Him. So she relocated herself from Manila to Bacolod City to work for an non-governmental organization, which takes care of street children. Raised as a Catholic, she used to fast during Lent, simply because it was a ritual handed down by her parents. Today, as a Christian, she still does fasting, but not only during Lent. She says she does some fasting whenever she needs clarity and focus in life. Whenever she needs guidance in her progression toward being more Christ-like, she fasts.
In the Bible, it has been repeatedly said that whoever follows Him will never walk in darkness. So why do we fast during Lent again? Most of us Catholics fast “backward” to remind us of His suffering. I say we also need to fast “forward” and follow wherever His light leads us, just like Kay. And we can only fast “forward” faster when we truly realize that God is always in control. Keep fasting forward, Kay.
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