As chronicled in the Bible, Deborah was a judge; Joseph and Daniel were government officials, Priscilla and Aquila were tent makers, and the Centurion of Capernaum was a military leader. All in secular work; all giants of the faith.
Shortly after committing my life to Christ as a young Army lieutenant, I came across a book titled Secular Work is Full-time Ministry. Struggling with the idea of leaving the military to pursue vocational ministry, the book’s message instead clarified my calling to the military. The remaining twenty plus years in uniform amplified the soundness of its message. I increasingly saw how a vibrant walk of faith in Christ gave life, context, and direction to my military duties.
Now in vocational ministry, I observe many OCF leaders honoring Christ by serving Him fruitfully through military work. Some examples include:
- A junior officer SEAL who gathered subordinates for weekly team building through surfing on the Island of Oahu. Each gathering included “Chaplain Time” for moral and spiritual encouragement of the Seals.
- A new Christian command sergeant major who boldly intervened when a senior leader suppressed faith-based programs, assertively reminding his boss that the Army’s pillars of comprehensive soldier fitness included spiritual fitness. The result–the NCO became the prime advocate in promoting and providing logistics for a flourishing prayer breakfast for new commanders and their senior NCOs.
- A military spouse who had served several tours with her husband in the Middle East is now a spark plug for connecting international military student spouses to healthy relationships in her role as a facilitator of English as a second language classes.
- A seasoned Army officer instructor who not only imparts a wealth of tactical knowledge to students, but also inspires through generously sprinkled class discussions of wise, moral, and ethical leadership. His excellence in tactics and his methods of instruction have led scores of mid-grade officers to seek him out, essentially to ask “for a reason for the hope that is in (him)” (1 Pet. 3:15). Many have found new life in Christ and entered into discipleship relationships.
- An Air Force squadron commander who superbly organized professional development to all squadron members regardless of their faith. His purpose–to develop their leadership, enable healthy family lives, and ethically grow–was all done with the spirit of love and service characteristic of a Christ-follower.
Ask yourself these questions: How does a faithful walk with Jesus give life, context, and direction to the exercise of military leadership? What opportunities do I have for doing good for others’ welfare and for God’s glory? How in the past has God’s power erupted through some work of faith by this simple and unworthy leader?
Note: Contemporary books on this subject with a sound theological and practical message include Timothy Keller’s Every Good Endeavor and Larry Peabody’s Secular Work is Full Time Service.