BCC Staff Note
As Christians we honor those brave men and women who serve and protect us by serving in the military. However, how well do we prepare Christians for military service? Our “Google Search” on “Preparing Christians for Military Service” found few resources. That’s why we’re providing this two-part BCC Grace & Truth blog series to at least introduce us to the topic. Whether you are a young person pondering a military career, someone currently in the military, a parent of someone planning to or now serving in the military, or a pastor or biblical counselor, Preparing Well for Military Service will offer valuable seed thoughts for this vital area.
We’ve chosen a blogger who is well-suited for this two-part series. Mark Worrell is Battalion Chaplain for the 91st Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne) in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He joined the US Army as a chaplain after he and his wife Shelly spent a year-and-a-half studying biblical counseling at Faith Church in Lafayette, Indiana. He completed his ACBC Certification this past summer and is looking forward to teaching a workshop on helping military marriages at the BCTC this year. The Worrell’s have a daughter, Scharleen, who is 2.
In Part One, Chaplain Worrell walks us through the decision to join the military, basic training, and how to prepare as a Christian. In Part Two, he introduces us to what military life will be like and how to prepare as a Christian.
What Will My Military Life Look Like?
The military asks two things of you as a new recruit:
- Show up.
- Do what you are told.
As you do that, you will receive more opportunities to do more than that. God says, “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master’” (Matthew 25:21). We are only trusted with more responsibility when we prove that we are capable of handling what has been given to us.
The barracks (or living quarters) can be a very challenging place to keep your focus in the right place. Challenge yourself to be disciplined in your walk with God. Find your chaplain and ask him to hold you accountable to:
- Be at chapel as the mission allows—The Army’s warrior ethos says, “I will always place the mission first”—worship whenever you have the opportunity. It may not always be as formal as we would prefer or as we are used to.
- Memorize Scripture.
- Have a daily walk with God. Help him lead Bible studies and be the person that points others to Christ in your unit. Show them what it means to have the ultimate Battle Buddy in Jesus Christ who has your back in every circumstance.
Keeping God at the center of your decisions on and off work will influence you and others. Submit to your chain of command no matter what, unless they ask you to do something illegal, immoral, or unethical. At that point, address it off to the side with the person that asked in a respectful manner.
Jesus, the Son of God, submitted to the will of the Father to go to the cross. His personal preference was that He would not have to submit to the agony of that death, but willingly chose to follow. Submission is willingly placing yourself under someone. That person will answer for the actions they do and what they have you do. Jesus knew that if He did not, He would not even be able to provide the forgiveness that we so desperately needed. We make the same decisions to submit to our authority and, at some level, to sacrifice our life for our friends. God says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Religious Freedom in the Military
There is a lot being said right now about religious freedom in the military. Each person is guaranteed to their free exercise of religion. Due to some recent legislation, be careful where and to whom you mention beliefs on homosexuality, etc. As a Chaplain, I try to remember that without Christ, changed behavior is just that: an empty change of outward appearance.
What Is Combat Like?
General David Petraeus[i] said, “It has been a long year and I am older in more ways that just time.” As you experience a deployment, it is almost as if your life is put on pause while the rest of the world continues at its normal pace or even faster. There may be a lot of time spent waiting around, but the times you are out on patrol will seem very long and an instant at the same time, especially when there are firefights, IED’s, etc.
What about Killing?
The Bible does not say,” You shall not kill.” The Bible does say, “You shall not murder.” What is the difference, you ask? One (killing) is ordered for just (correct) reasons within a just context[ii], while murder is lying in wait to address a personal vendetta so that one man can make another “pay.”
You are doing a good thing to sacrifice yourself for something greater than yourself. Take this time to imitate Christ in difficult circumstances. Basic training is the best way to train for your future time in the military. In the same way, this life is basic training for eternity. You learn how to handle pressure and trust the Holy Spirit to provide the daily operational knowledge so that you can handle daily life now. God says that it is best to prepare for eternity by walking through the struggles today.
Join the Conversation
How would you provide biblical answers to the question, “What will my military life look like?”
[i]Yes, I know General Petraeus made some unwise decisions. Though he has holes in his character, he remains one of the best officers the military has ever known. I believe that he did not take heed where he stood and fell.
[ii]The just war theory is another entire discussion that makes up our country’s ideology of why we will go to war and what we will do when in that war. This is the reason for why we do not fire until we are fired upon, why we work to prevent “collateral damage,” and why our rules of engagement (ROE)/how we respond to enemy forces are laid out while in combat.