Ready

We’re ready.  I sense it in every conversation with each of our Soldiers.  The atmosphere is thick with anticipation.

It feels like pregame of a contest we know we’re fully prepared to win.  There is a razor’s edge to their sharpness.  The farewell’s to our families, friends, and loved ones have only served to fuel our drive to get overseas and begin mission.

I never cease to be inspired by the quality of Soldiers I have served with in times such as this.  The challenge brings out our best.  These Soldiers are confident in their craft.  They are expert warriors…there’s no other way to say it.  Yet they temper their fury until the moment for which it is called.

These are the sons and daughters of a good nation.  If you ever doubt America’s grit, tenacity, integrity, and resilience, spend an hour talking and training with these Millennials and GenXers.  Doubt will be removed.  These Soldiers are the leaders of their generations.  They are high-order thinkers and tireless workers.  If they complain, it is only to each other.  It is their earned privilege which actually serves as fuel for their continued diligence and critical awareness of their missions’ objectives.

Our leaders are ready.  They have scrutinized and vetted multiple strategies, options, and actions for the mission ahead.  They carry a paternal love and burden for each of those in their formations… even the rowdiest ones.  They hunger to be called on to lead the hardest missions, but are faithful and humble to give the same drive and effort to even the smallest of assigned objectives.

We are ready because we are confident.  This confidence is not false motivation that dries up in the face of real adversity.  Rather it is true confidence that seeks to be proven through adversity.

Readiness is not best measured by a checklist of trained tasks. It is best measured by the character, commitment, competence, and grit found in both the individual Soldier and their team here in the Seminole Battalion.

We’re ready. Never surrender.

Best

“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” GEN Colin Powell

bestieThere is a self-handwritten sign over my desk which states: “You have the best job in the world. Why aren’t you smiling?”

It’s there because I believe this about my job in the Army (and my church).  It’s there in case I ever need reminding.  Most of my daily reminders come from seeing the faces of the Soldiers I serve.  Of all the jobs I’ve had in the Army, I love this one the most.  I realized one day that the best way I would ever serve God and the Army would be as a Chaplain (Colossians 3:23).  It took me 15 years to come to this insight.  What about you?

Do YOU know that YOU have the BEST job?

You have the BEST job you’re going to have for this deployment.  Make the best of it.  You get the privilege that few people out of the billions in our world ever get – you get to lead…  

…you get to lead as part of an Infantry Battalion…

…an Infantry Battalion in the U.S. Army.

You have the BEST calling you are going to have during the next year.

Make the best of it.

(Word of the Day at CUB 23AUG)  #WOTDseries #Drop10

Break

Break.

Take one or suffer one.

Combat and Operational Stress Control research shows a commensurate decrease in emotional intelligence, critical thinking, resiliency, and even fine motor skills the longer we go without adequate rest.

Regardless of whether he was a teacher, prophet, holy man or mad man, Jesus was a regionally popular leader in his day. His time was in high demand by hundreds if not thousands of people who were looking for information, wanted him to do something for them or a friend or family member, or wanted his attention.  However, he still made time to break away…which contributed to what may arguably be considered an effective leadership lifestyle.

Some organizational and human resource experts refer to this as “creating margin” between work, rest, and recreation.

Recharge.  Renew.  Whether early in the morning, while it is still dark (Mark 1:35), or late at night after the noise has subsided (Luke 6:12).  Create margin.  Break.

You are each a vital leader to this battalion.  Intentional breaks will ensure this.

(Word of the Day during CUB on 16AUG) #WOTDseries #Drop9

Justice

Etymology – Latin “justus” meaning:

“administration of law”

“quality of being fair and reasonable; equitable”

“vindication of the right”

In Deuteronomy 27:19 we see the idea of justice and fairness has some of it’s beginning circa 1400 BCE within an emerging Semitic group in the Near Middle East.

This culturally-specific reference shows a young nation’s shift away from a “might makes right” society of unbalanced reciprocity toward a social system of balance and personally-motivated fairness.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was justice in process.  Justice can be messy and long, but is always worth the sacrifice.

Justice is the effort to ensure balanced reciprocity.

“The moral arc of the universe is long and it bends toward justice.”   Here Rev. Martin Luther King echoes the 19th century Abolitionist minister, Theodore Parker. These timely words relay themselves to us and our continuous intent to advance justice  within our ranks as well as protect justice’s cause throughout parts of the world which still practice injustice and unbalanced reciprocity.  Justice can be messy and long, but is always worth the sacrifice.

(Word of the Day 13AUG – Leadership Development Brief covering UCMJ) #WOTDseries #Drop8

“Come Back Better”

Come back better.

This phrase takes on new meaning as I make the solitary stroll down the concourse away from my wife and little boy for the next nine months.

I will come back better.  These next nine months won’t merely be measured by the passing of time.  Time is non-recoverable currency. IMG_1672I demand from myself an increased ‘return on investment’ based on the price that is paid and the cost to those dearest to me.  How will I come back better for Katherine, Gabe, myself, and our family as a whole?  They deserve it.  They are paying this price with me.

Deployment pays well.  However, it would be wasteful for my biggest takeaway to merely be storing away extra money in our savings account.  Financial health is a minor factor in what it means for me to “come back better.”  For me, a bank account is a poor substitute for family and loved ones.  Coming back better is about them.  How can I come back better as a husband and father for them…for our family?

Some may say, “You don’t have to worry about coming back better. The comprehensive experience of the sacrifice is enough to make you better.”  Agreed.  I will come back as a better Soldier and Chaplain – a residual effect from the caliber of Soldiers with whom I deploy,  as well as the training so far received and the day-to-day improvement of my craft overseas.

However, I’m looking to learn a unique lesson or develop a new skill or habit that will mold me, dare I say transform me on a comprehensive and transcendent level.  Therefore, this “come back better” idea must be better than a “do more” bucket list or checklist that I accomplish on my own as some existential ‘show-and-tell.’

Ultimately, “coming back better” requires aspiring to something “better” and more durable than what is currently organic to me.  This ‘something better’ will mold for the long haul.  For me, that ‘something better’ is a someone Who is eternal; Who calls and equips us to be our best.

As Patrick Henry stated in the early years of the American Revolution, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”  I relate these words to today.  But I know something that perhaps Mr. Henry didn’t;  God has built us for moments such as these.  God has engineered us to rise to the challenge.  While these moments may be met and overcome alone, we are even “better” when we meet these moments together with God.  “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Philippians 4:13 MSG

This is the first step of my “come back better” plan.