Pushing them to the next level

HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala - The Freeman

Whenever I see students who appear to be simply loafing around in school, I get challenged as to how to push these guys to the next level. It kind of pains me to see them seemingly not knowing how to make good use of time.

I feel somehow sorry because I know these guys have great potentials, considering that they passed the entrance exams and went through the battery of screening exercises that would determine whether they have the necessary aptitude, disposition, and capabilities to tackle what we offer in school.

I imagine that the first thing to do is to pray for them and then devise some kind of plan to get to talk to them personally. Friendship and confidence are important in this concern because that is how serious stuff can be effectively communicated to them.

I want to enter into their personal lives, like knowing how they think, judge and reason out, or whether they have some rudiments of faith and piety or what their concerns and difficulties are.

Being a senior citizen, of course, gives me a bit of a challenge to be able to deal with these young ones. But I just console myself with the thought that I can be and should be the Good Shepherd this flock needs. I just have to try my best to adapt myself to them, not scaring them but rather attracting them.

Truth is practically all of them do not know how to handle their own lives, much less to turn dreams into reality, or how to set goals with their proper means. Some of them suffer some serious distracting problems personally, economically, physically, or emotionally; and these have to be given due attention.

There are those who may have a good head but with an attitude problem, those who appear to be nice but lazy, those who appear to be energetic but do not think and plan things well, those who are creative and artistic but are disorderly, those who are very good in words but a failure in deeds, and those who are good in the little things but bad in the big things.

They all need help. They all need to be properly motivated. They need to be shown the way to outgrow their weaknesses and reinforce their strengths. All these can be done if there is a working relationship among us, a relationship nourished in trust and confidence.

We already have a mentoring system where every student is attended to by a mentor. The idea is to know the student well and help him in whatever problem he may have that is other than just academic. Of course, the mentors also have to be properly supervised so they can carry out their task well.

Students need to be constantly motivated and helped to overcome their difficulties. They have to be encouraged to take on bigger responsibilities. They need to be taught how to deal with their problems and even their failures, and how to move on without spending too much time brooding or regretting over their mistakes.

It's important that they are shown and that they get enthused with possible new horizons and new frontiers, after considering their capabilities. Some of them are actually geniuses in computers, a rich ore that needed to be processed and polished.

They have to be prepared for the future whose temper can already be discerned through the present trends. Thus, it is good to encourage them to dream and to dream big, reassuring them that if they trust in God and if they do their part, their dreams will fall not fall short.

In this regard, I get very excited when I discover a possible vocation to the priesthood. Yes, even in this unlikely environment of a technical school, a priestly vocation can still be found, validating my belief that God can call anyone to the priesthood anywhere anytime.

Most of all, I see to it that they acquire a healthy and working spiritual life, a life of piety nourished in prayer and sacrifice, in recourse to the sacraments and study of the faith, and in an abiding struggle for virtues and against weaknesses and temptations.

They need to get convinced that in the end and always, it is the spiritual life that matters most because it is what would relate and bring them to their eternal destination. All the other aspects of life are simply secondary and instrumental in character.

Once they get this point, I feel reassured they can handle anything in life.

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