Q: How do you strike a balance between being both an effective military officer and a bold witness for Christ?
A: The idea of balance between being an officer and a Christian hints at a bifurcation between the two. I do not believe that we should separate these. The Bible says to do all things as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:17).
This means that your work as a military officer should be an extension of your faith. The output of your duties, as such, should be the best possible. The quality of your work and expertise should be so good that it provides proof of your faith. To put it plainly, your credibility as a Christian is on the line if you are a substandard officer. Take pride in your work, walk your talk, and thereby bring glory to God.
Q: What are the must-have tools you suggest for keeping sharp as a military officer and as a Christian?
A: Every Christian officer needs a friend in the faith to hold him/her accountable, hear confession, offer prayer cover, and encourage us through the struggle. Even Moses couldn't do it alone (Exodus 17:10-13). He had Aaron and Hur help him in the midst of a desperate battle against the Amalekites. We also need such support.
There are a lot of temptations to compromise your testimony. Your wing-man in the struggle will help you overcome these. For me, this faithful partner has been, and remains, my wife, Rebecca. She is my confidant, advisor, friend, and accountability partner in the fight. I could not have made it without her.
Q: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were a newly commissioned officer?
A: We are serving in a culture increasingly unwelcoming to Christians, more than I ever would have dreamed when I was commissioned. Our model as to how to stand up under this pressure is Daniel, who lived in a hostile pagan society (Daniel 6:3-5). Despite this, he conducted himself with such integrity and honesty that he was blameless before his accusers. So, when his enemies advanced against him, the only indictment that they could bring against him was against his faith--his God.
Another lesson from Daniel is that despite the forces arraigned against him, he was open about his faith. Daniel was no coward, even though he knew that the cost could be high--even death.
As modern day Daniels, we can't be covert about our faith, and must not be ashamed of the name of Jesus. Using wisdom and discernment throughout our lives, we are told to be bold and courageous. Jesus has called us to take a stand in such a time as this. Laying low, and compromising are outside of our calling.
In taking a stand, you may pay a high price, but in the end, your trust and faith must be in Him. So, as Jesus said, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16) in these times of challenge.
COL Douglas Mastriano is currently at the US Army War College, a member of the 2010 Class.
This article was printed in the August 2010 issue of COMMAND.