“To Whom Much is Given, Much is Required.”
Message for Junior High School Honor Students
Atty. Joshua Francisco J. Ablong
July 22, 2019
Vice President for Academic Affairs and OIC of the Office of the President, Dr. Earl Jude Paul L. Cleope, Dr. Batchiba R. Lacdo-o, Dean of the College of Education, Dr. Gina F. Bonior, Associate Dean for the School of Basic Education, Asst. Prof. Virgilio Larena, Jr., principal of the Junior High School, the faculty and staff, our dear honorees and their proud parents, relatives and friends, good afternoon to all of you.
At the outset I’d like to thank the Junior High School led by Asst. Prof. Virgilio Larena, Jr. for inviting me to be your speaker this afternoon.
I must say this comes as a surprise, inasmuch as I have never been an honor student during my high school years. True, I was in the First Section, I’ve had a couple of extracurricular awards, like the Artist of the Year Award and the Merit Award given to me by the then Citizens Army Training, but I never really made it to the cut of academic honor students. I was sort of a late bloomer. Most of the curricular and extracurricular awards I was blessed to have came when I was already in college.
Nevertheless I find it as my honor and privilege to be your speaker this afternoon.
Honors Day is always a proud moment for many: it is a proud moment for the honorees, their parents, their relatives and even for their friends. After all, it is on this occasion where we publicly recognize those who have excelled in their curricular and extracurricular undertakings.
Indeed, being an honor student is a status, because it is one that is not given to many. But what does it mean to be an honor student? What does it entail?
There is that popular statement which says that “with great power, comes great responsibility”.
Different people would attribute this to different individuals: some would say this comes from Ben Parker of Spider Man, others would say this was stated by Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, while others would claim this originated from Voltaire of France. But this quote actually finds its origins from Jesus Christ himself, who said in the Gospel of Luke 12:48 that:
“When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” (New Living Translation)
This passage is very striking because it tells us that we who have been given much will have a greater responsibility to do something even greater in return.
Men and women in history have contributed much to humanity. And some of these contributions were good, while some of them were bad.
As a Christian institution, we believe that our talents are not ours. They come from God and they have been given to us for a purpose. These gifts: the gifts of intellect, talent and other abilities were given to us, not only to be used for our own benefit but also for the benefit of others.
All of you here, our dear honor students, are so blessed, because you have been endowed with such great intellect, talents and abilities.
You are Silliman’s finest, the cream of the crop, the best of the best, and we as a University and as a society expects you not only to hone them, but to use them for the benefit of others.
Our communities and our nation needs bright and talented people like you. When you use your talents, your abilities and your intellect not only for yourselves but for others, you are using them for the greater good of humanity. And that is what Silliman expects of you.
The second point that I wish to drive at this afternoon is that being an honor student requires that we remain humble.
Achievements are good, and we encourage you, our dear honor students, to achieve even more. But never let your achievements go to your head. While having strong confidence in ourselves and in our abilities is good, it must never make us arrogant.
In Proverbs 16:18, it says that “pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before the fall.”
Thus, it is incumbent upon us, despite our achievements and our accolades, to remain humble. Because the fall is much harder when we are proud: the greater the pride, the more painful the fall.
I cite by way of example, Manny Pacquiao’s opponents. If you’re familiar with them, they all engaged in trash-talk. They have this practice of elevating themselves, bragging about their abilities and belittling their opponents, only to realize how painful it is to be defeated in the end.
So stay humble. Remember, when you’re already up there, there are only two things that can happen: either you remain up or you go down.
Let your victories and achievements be something that will inspire and empower others.
Now, while being an honor student puts us at a higher level of achievement than others, it requires us to recognize that at some point, we will fail. Life is bigger and more challenging than the classroom, and sometimes, grades are not everything. This is not to say that you should intentionally flunk in your subjects, but what I am trying to drive at here is that sometimes, it is okay to fail, because from our failures and mistakes come valuable lessons: they make us better, they make us stronger.
Thomas Edison failed many times before he was able to produce a light bulb; the Wright Brothers experienced many technical difficulties before they were able to successfully make their first flight; the Apollo mission experienced numerous setbacks before being able to successfully put a man on the moon; and Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, creators of Apple, Microsoft and Facebook were all college drop-outs, but look where they are now.
If you are afraid to fail, you will not succeed. Because it is only when we try to do something, even with the prospect of failing, will we be able to discover and achieve new things. Life is not always about successes, or victories and crowning moments, but it is also about failures and how we use them to our advantage.
One day, when you will enter the workforce or establish your own businesses or practice your own profession, you will realize that having a positive attitude is very important, because a person with a positive attitude will always have that fighting spirit regardless of the circumstances.
Finally, glorify God in everything that you do.
He is the source of everything. He created the Universe and he created you. And he did so for a purpose. And that purpose is for you to carry out his will. In his eyes you are special. All your talents and abilities, come from him and God gave them to you so that through your achievements and successes, God will be glorified. So, glorify God in everything that you do and allow others to see God through you.
Put your trust in Him and allow Him to shape your life. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
And so once again, to this year’s Honor Students, congratulations and God bless you all!