by LTC Bruce D. Chesne, USA (Ret.)
“I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap…” (Ezekiel 22:30 NLT).
If you’re in your thirties, you are living in a generational, social, and professional gap by no choice of your own. This positioning brings tremendous professional and spiritual challenges; and opportunities.
My intent is to arm you with information regarding your unique situation. My prayer is that this will expand your understanding and increase your effectiveness as military leaders, spouses, and ambassadors for Christ. Others may want to read along to increase their knowledge of this gap.
The Gap Described
Culturally you are a pivotal element in our society. By chance of birth you live in the gap between the modern and post-modern eras. The modern era existed from 1500 a.d. until about the time you were born. The industrial age reigned supreme. Truth was determined by the scientific method. Life consisted of laboratory-like certainties. Biblical laws were not always followed, but right and wrong were clearly defined. In commerce, tangible items like buildings and machinery were the valued commodities.
Contrast this with the post-modern era generally coinciding with the information age. Portable assets such as information, expertise, and other intellectual capital became the more valued commodities. Everything is relative and nothing is certain. A popular conception says there are no absolutes. Situational ethics can override long-held rules of conduct. Individual experience has replaced science and reasoning as the foundation for truth.
By socialization through parenting, education practices, and peer pressure, populations raised within these eras hold the perspectives and ideologies of that era. Because you share attributes with the populations of both eras you may have occasional difficulty relating with those older or younger than yourself. These characteristics also make you a versatile product in God’s economy. You have the unique ability to reach out to either side with equal ease and effectiveness.
Professionally you serve a crucial function in our armed forces. You stand on the cusp between direct leadership with the lower ranks and executive leadership with senior ranks. Where you previously led collections of soldiers, sailors, airmen, or marines you now lead other leaders. Once you dealt with personalities and individual abilities; now you deal with plans, policies, and resources for large organizations. You are in a strategic position. By virtue of your rank and position subordinates look to you to set the standard.
The example you portray as a Christian leader has the ability to directly affect the personal conduct and eternal future of hundreds. Those hundreds may eventually impact countless numbers. You may be in a position to advise senior leaders on matters of importance. Seeking God’s wisdom and applying it at the right time can steer the actions and attitudes of thousands.
Emotionally your career experience has seen unprecedented change. Your life has spanned the dependable pace of the Cold War, the revved up tempo of the 1990s peacekeeping and stability operations, and now the frenzy of the Global War on Terrorism. More than modernization, your byword is transformation. Each branch of service is undergoing major shifts in organization and culture. The impact of continuous change can leave service members and their families mentally adrift and stressed to the breaking point. You have great opportunities in this environment to provide the stability that only a relationship with Jesus Christ can bring.
Standing Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for gap leaders
1 – Establish security.
Living in the gap does not necessarily equal standing in the gap. God is looking for people who will bridge the gap and influence this difficult environment with kingdom power. This must be a conscientious decision made by each individual willing to make a difference. you are ready for the challenge or you wouldn’t have read this far. However, I would refer you to Proverbs 24:6 and Luke 14:31 concerning pre-conflict planning-summarized simply as being prepared, standing wisely, and counting the cost. Anyone taking a stand will draw the enemy’s attention. Be spiritually and mentally prepared. There is no substitute for God’s peace and protection in this matter; that, and the security provided by a spiritual phalanx in the form of your OCF Bible study group. Whether in your neighborhood or at work, the sense of Christian community and accountability these small groups afford is invaluable. Do not neglect to form these groups in your units during long-term deployments.
2 – Live and Lead as a Christian.
Be salt and light to those around you. Speak the truth expressed in the Bible. The implied task is to know the Bible, another benefit of your study groups. Then live as you speak, setting the moral example.
Realize you won’t always be popular. Because you are a Christian some may not want to associate with you, but they may seek you out when they’re hurting. Be prepared to offer Christ as the answer.
3 – Take advantage of your unique position.
Recognize you are unique and specially gifted to occupy your decisive position. Take advantage of the opportunities God presents. If you feel in your heart God is prompting you to do something, He’s probably already prepared the battlefield by establishing the pre-conditions for your success. He may only need your prayerfully considered obedience. “What’s more, who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 NLT).