The Ministry of Care on Eagle’s Wings

The Ministry of Care on Eagle’s Wings

(This page temporarily features articles by Dr. Betsy Joy B. Tan, Vice President for Academic Affairs, who has been designated as Acting President in concurrent capacity, while Dr. Ben S. Malayang III is on official leave. Dr. Malayang, who is in the United States to meet with the different alumni chapters and attend the Tipon 2011 celebration in Fairbanks, Alaska in June, will resume his reflections in August.)


“The Ministry of Care on Eagles' Wings: The Gift of Fullness, The Gift of Wellness”
Graduation Ceremony, The Divinity School's Summer Clinical Pastoral Education Program
10 am, Thursday, June 2, 2011 Pantejo Garden Chapel, SUMC

By: Dr. Betsy Joy B. Tan 


Isaiah 40:31 reads: But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.

Congratulations, dear graduates, for continuing to soar in Silliman University's Founders Day theme, “On eagles' wings”!

 Congratulations too, for continuing Silliman University's tradition of FIRE, faith in instruction, research, & extension.

Shall we all give our graduates a warm round of applause?

In 1964, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Merton D. Munn, commented that the theological faculty was “probably the most effective unit in the University, that the college exerted an influence on the University out of proportion to that of the other colleges, and that the college was small and would probably remain so”.

With only eleven graduates in this Summer's Clinical Pastoral Education program, Dr. Munn's projections are still true: the most effective academic unit, the most influential among all other colleges, and the least number of enrollees – and all these in spite of the change in its academic identity in 1966 from College of Theology to Divinity School, the standard nomenclature for graduate seminaries in universities as documented in the book, Silliman University 1901 – 1976 by authors Dr. Ed Tiempo, Dr. Cris Maslog, and Dr. Val Sitoy, Jr.

Among professional service careers then, why do only a handful get into an academic program whose purpose is so laudable and beneficial to humanity and society? Why is there a scarcity of interest and motivation to work on the heart and the soul of fellow human beings … to help ease their sufferings whether physical, social, or psychological?

There is no doubt that schools and universities exist to train and prepare human resources for the country; but even with the choices to capture individual interests and passions in its higher education programs, why do only a few enroll in service careers that deal with knowledge in the constructive and creative work dedicated to the upliftment of human dignity, the appreciation for individual differences, the nurturance of justice and mercy for all humanity?

When Aristotle observed that there can be no learning without pain, he gave us an answer; but when Dr. Daniel Goleman in his 1995 groundbreaking bestseller declared that EQ, emotional intelligence, matters more than our IQ, he gave us a new way of looking at man's sufferings from personal to communal.

With daily news headlines that practically shout about the ills of families, the passions gone awry, the emotional blocks to our children's growth and development, there is much evidence around for the need for pastoral care experts like you. With the catastrophic effects of climate change that trigger other human infirmities, what happens to our global population when today's children are already emotionally crippled?

As pastoral care experts and counselors, what challenges are ahead for you as you now go out into the world to practice what you have learned? What challenges are ahead for all of us in the academe?

Contemporary realities tell us that challenges for us may look both alarming and intimidating; but the beauty of how God has created each one of us has given us the push, the gift of our eagle's wings to transcend and soar high to get us out of our emotional disabilities. God has given us the window to balance our EQ and IQ, to take care of the seven powers of our brain – imagination, creativity, intuition, discovery, memory, belief, and wisdom.

The lines by Anthony Villa from a familiar poster-poem around our homes ring a bell for us when he wrote:

             What you are, is God's gift to you.
             What you make of it, is your gift to God.

At Silliman University, we are all engaged in knowledge work, both as teachers and students. However, surrounded as we are with the technologies of comfort and entertainment from TV to the ubiquitous cellphone, from our daily dose of soap opera and vanity-inspired advertising and video games, to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube social networking, mankind has been buffeted and bombarded by the technological storm unheard of before – even before civilization brought us the industrial revolution. In such rapid-fire existence, when the Industrial Age segued into the Knowledge Economy, our environmental quality has been suffocating, even overwhelming … so much so that our young today suffer from attention deficit problems that encompass other essential communication competencies like their ability to listen, to comprehend, to think critically, as well as the development of the other coping mechanisms of self-care, direct action, and situation mastery. Personal Change expert, Dr. Stephen Covey (1990), describes such situation as a Social Mirror where an individual's view of himself is formed by his current social paradigm, his environment.

Social scientists have already predicted that in a few years, media would have sapped the life of our youth to produce narcissistic personalities. And the comment of Yale University behavioral economist, Dr. Robert Shiller in the 2009 updated and revised edition of his book, Irrational Exuberance, is worth noting when he said, “The ability to focus attention on important things is one of the defining characteristics of intelligence and no one really understands how the brain does it. Failure to focus attention on proper things is also one of the most common characteristics of human judgment errors. The mechanism for focusing attention that has evolved in the human brain, although remarkable, is still far from perfect.” Indeed, with technology, man's life has become complex instead of simple; too focused on the trappings of technology as status symbols that now impede his own knowledge management – when knowledge itself is renewable, changing, and in this Knowledge Economy, the ownership of such knowledge is not only one's personal wealth but also one's professional wealth when used to create or improve goods and services. Thus today, our environmental quality has been suffocating, even overwhelming.

Today too, after American management guru Peter F. Drucker coined the term, 'knowledge work' in 1959 as “being intangible, does not result in a product but in a contribution of knowledge to someone else', our habits of thinking and doing stay stifled unless we make a personal decision for personal change – in spite of or against the dominance and influence of technology and how it has shaped our lives.

In your discipline of Clinical Pastoral Education, your wealth of knowledge becomes more difficult to fathom because results cannot be quantified by scores or grades but only by the intensity and hue of emotions manifested in body language. Designing your own knowledge work is therefore crucial to your kind of professional service.

In spite of the dearth then of interest in Clinical Pastoral Education, I am much impressed that in your gift of fullness as CPE graduates today, you continue to acknowledge our 2010 Founders Day Theme, on eagles' wings – your peak performance in your Silliman education, to being shepherds of your flock either in their homes or in hospitals; your purpose to enrich the community's emotional life with your brand of care and counsel; your passion as the knowledge worker who lives by Stephen Covey's 1989 definition of an emotional bank account where commitment is a “promise, a major deposit; but breaking one is a major withdrawal”.

Having reached the finishing line in your academic preparation in Clinical Pastoral Education, I can discern that in each one of you, you have not only passed your knowledge requirements but have also made major deposits in your passion, performance, and purpose to accomplish your dream of service. And because you are the chosen few, I look forward to the day when I can hear from you the same loaded message from my favorite motivational speaker, Hilary Hinton “Zig” Zigler when he was asked a standard question, “How are you today?” Instead of the standard response, “I'm fine, thank you”, he opted to say, “DOING BETTER THAN GOOD!” And among the many books he has published, I also look forward to your constant companion, his 2007 book, God's Way Is Still The Best Way!

 Armed with your gift of fullness, accompanied in your journey with God's Way Is Still The Best Way, I look forward to each one of you interacting with your wide sphere of influence in a community who are emotionally healthy, free from self-defeating passions with a balanced IQ and EQ and where the benefits of your gifts of fullness are imprinted on their gifts of wellness.

As well, I look forward to the broadening of your intellectual horizons when you expand your pastoral reach beyond hospitals and homes to the pastoral care of learners and students: the most vulnerable in our School of Basic Education, the age when initial impressions take root as lasting friendships; and the most confused and easily tempted college student. In such kind of nurturance, Silliman University can truly celebrate achievers beyond their grades – students who are empathetic, courageous, kind, emotionally strong, behaviorally able to accept and account for their decisions, big or small.

At Silliman University, the School of Divinity pioneered in extension work, the third thrust of a caring university. After today then, as you begin your journey beyond the walls of your classrooms, pastoral care as extension and service now begins in earnest. The challenge at hand for those in the ministry of pastoral care is therefore only this: on eagles' wings, translate your gift of fullness into gifts of wellness in the hearts and minds of your receivers. As a final challenge to you today, let us look at ourselves, at society's standards of living on this earth through the lenses of prominent Filipino motivational speaker and columnist, Francis Kong, in a Philippine Star publication last April 16, 2011J while asking his readers to help him identify the pen behind these lines:



We read in the papers, we hear on the air,

Of killing and stealing, and crime everywhere.

We sigh, and we say, as we notice the trend,

“This young generation! Where will it all end?”


But can we be sure that it's their fault alone?

That maybe most of it isn't really our own?


Too much money to spend, too much idle time;

Too many movies of passion and crime;

Too many books not fit to be read;

Too much of evil in what they hear said;

Too many children encouraged to roam,

By too many parents who won't stay at home.


Kids don't make the movies, they don't write the books,

That paint a gay picture of gangsters and crooks.

They don't make the liquor, they don't run the bars,

They don't pass the laws, nor make the high-speed cars,

They don't make the drugs that addle the brain;

It's all done by older folks greedy for gain.


Thus in so many cases it must be confessed,

The label “Delinquent” fits older folks best.


Congratulations … and remember to always DO BETTER THAN GOOD!

All the best for the next stage of your journey in pastoral care!