Where you are planted

While attending a memorial service for a very young man of 30 years, I was approached by a pastor-friend to catch up and to get ideas on what people or pastors should start doing right after the recent presidential elections. This of course is probably the most common question today. Everybody has his or her own idea, platform, agenda or plan of action, mostly driven by personal needs, frustration or political orientation. Ironically, many of us think “National” instead of “Personal.” When the pastor asked me what people should do, I simply said, “Bear fruit where you are planted.”

When Max Soliven announced my selection as a columnist for The Philippine STAR, I remember him telling me to “focus on human interest stories because that is what you are good at.” Looking back, I now understand that human interest stories reflect the day to day challenges of people and the things that affect them. Far too often Filipinos dive into political issues, debates, controversy but like addicts, we never get a permanent fix. It’s the never-ending meal that keeps getting recycled and reheated but never nutritious. Unfortunately, it is also what distracts us from our placement, calling or purpose. Ironically, quite a number of us are already where our calling or purpose is but don’t realize it. Where we are born, the parents we have, family we are born into, schools we attend, churches we join, jobs, etc. These are not accidents or coincidences, they are the here and now, the “for the moment” where we have a role to play or a job to do. If you simply connect the dots, you come out with “Destiny.” Don’t look at them as incidental or coincidental. Analyze them from the perspective of connected and connectivity.

I told my pastor friend that all of us are where we are for a reason or by design. I am a journalist by training and degree, I am in media not by my own design but in obedience to God’s will, in spite of the fact that the other choice was to work in the private sector or to carry on as a resort builder/developer or operate a resort, but those doors closed. As a journalist or broadcaster, I could easily fit into the realm of political commentary, focusing on nothing but the news and issues. But there are thousands of other important topics and concerns for Filipinos and so I focus on the educational, informational and aspirational matters. You don’t have to be a clanging gong or drum beater to make a difference. You simply have to provide a platform for the right people to be heard, to be understood or to grow. All the geniuses in the world, all the billionaires and heroes had or have an enabler in their life or along their journey. God is my divine designer and destiny maker, my father Louie Beltran was my mentor figuratively and literally, and Max Soliven was my enabler.

I told my friend that he and his colleagues should now spend more time addressing issues and revelations that came out after the elections and COVID-19 pandemic. I quoted Jesus Christ who said in the book of Matthew 7: 21-23: “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord; will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me you workers of lawlessness.”

Those words ring out many ways. We could all be at “work” but not doing the work required from us. We could be doing the work but not in the manner or degree required of us. In spite of all our professions of faith, we all know that time and again that impatience, lack of consultation time with God and even sheer lack of grit and faith tend to misalign us or throw us off course. All of this demands a certain level of self-awareness and constant evaluation from within and from others. They say that in media, the audience or reader ultimately decides or determines what gets reported or written. But that is not necessarily good or healthy. Biblically speaking, today’s media is yesterday’s prophets if we are aligned with the will of God. Some days we have good news, most other days we are the bearer of bad news, ill tidings, even the harsh critic to an evil or wicked generation. It’s not easy, it’s never fun, but as they say, it’s a job and somebody has to do it. That somebody just happens to be the media.

Regardless of what church or faith you ascribe to, there is no denying that during the COVID lockdowns, the 70 percent of non-tithing church goers or believers grew in numbers as many people tightened their belts as well as their fists in fear of economic displacement. To their dismay, the 25 percent of believers who kept giving their tithes continued to find provision and profit in their labors. The last campaign and elections exposed many half-baked, compromised or weekend believers. Sadly, some of the nicest people I’ve known conveniently dropped the teachings and the walk, in exchange for the political propaganda and to be seen as supporters. Many people also commented on the lack of election related “principles,” spiritual and practical guidance concerning the elections, issues and candidates. In short, while many spiritual leaders concerned themselves with COVID-19 and politics, their flock turned from sheep into goats in the absence of shepherds.

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So wherever you might be, at whatever age and economic status you find yourself, you have a purpose, a role and you can make a difference in one person’s life. That difference is what bearing fruit means.

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E-mail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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