Once in a while, we find the past making an appearance in our present. Like a movie flashback we find ourselves reliving a memory long dormant and forgotten.
That’s exactly how I felt standing in front of one of the halls in Teachers Camp, Baguio. As I looked through the dusty windows of the empty room, I remembered very vividly a scene from many year back as a young nervous boy:
It was the night of the camp ball, I had been selected Mr. Campference, and as is the tradition, I was to have the first dance with the year’s Ms. Campference – a much taller girl. Growing up, I was always the smallest in my class. I was tiny come to think of it. I can’t begin to describe how scared I was to walk out there and dance with a giant of a female in front of everyone. To me, back then, that was the scariest moment of my life.
I still feel that way, like a schoolboy dancing with responsibilities much too big for him. Sometimes as the music plays, the weight of supporting her through the dizzying turns and steps can get very tiring.
People ask, “Why take on responsibility in the first place? Why bear the burden for others? Why complicate your life?” I don’t really have an answer for them. I see responsibility differently.
To me, to be responsible is to respond. Respond to what? To the needs of people around us and also to the opportunities presented. It’s like that yema boy I wrote about, who, without saying a word, asked me, “David. David. Your response please?” Or when I was asked to join Habitat for Humanity or Real LIFE, “David. David. Your response please?” How do you know that you’re the one to respond? You’ll know if you’re listening, because need and opportunity call you by name. But you have to be listening because everyday there are calls coming out for help, for food, for a chance, for forgiveness, for leadership, for strength, for hope, for love. There’s so many calls that you’re bound to hear one calling you specifically and you can’t miss it, because it’s saying your name over and over and it’s asking, “your response please.”
So for those of you responding I’d like to encourage you with what I shared in Baguio, in that same room that once scared me. Here are 5 short points on HOW to respond.
1. Make love our motivation – While we respond to need and opportunity, let it be our love for people or our passion for a concern or cause that drives us. There are so many needs and so much opportunity, a good way to know which one is for us is to check our heart and ask ourselves, “Do I love this?”
2. Make vision our guide – To respond to a need or opportunity usually means to enter a situation that’s not ideal – probably far from ideal – and that’s why there’s a need or opportunity in the first place. There’s something missing, something we can bring to the picture. That’s why we have to see the big and greater picture, a picture we remind ourselves when things get challenging – and they always will because nothing worth doing is without challenge.
3. Make discipline our practice – Our passion and our vision should lead to consistent action. This is one area I need a lot of improvement in. It’s nice and fun to be involved in something we like. It’s nice and fun to dream big. But it’s the daily steps and ceaseless plodding that takes us closer and closer to these targets. Unless love and vision are applied in action, they will never produce the masterpieces they were intended to create.
4. Make joy your strength – There is a different energy that comes over us when we’re enjoying what we’re doing. Our work becomes fun, and what’s fun we can sustain longer. Responsibilities don’t always have to be tiring and tedious. We can enjoy the growth, the learning, the discovery, and relationships.
5. Make faith your hope – No matter how motivated we are, no matter how grand our precise our vision, no matter how disciplined we are, and no matter how much satisfaction we derive, we will all face a challenge that’s much much much bigger than us. This is why we need faith in God, that we know we can place our hope in Him and trust that what is too big for us will never be too big for Him, not our responsibilities, not our limitations, not our sins, not our failures, nothing.
As we traveled back to Manila after just 6 hours in Baguio, I was filled with a gratefulness to God for even including me in this amazing thing He has designed called life. I know I don’t deserve a spot on the team. I would never make the cut. When I’m very honest with myself I’m reminded, that if I were to take them, I’d fail the leadership test, the integrity test, the faith test, and the excellence test. But that’s the amazing thing. Despite all my shortcomings, there’s a call with my name on it, and it’s not asking if I’m ready. It’s asking for a response.