Being a spiritual point man

Each of us has the opportunity to choose to lead

by LTC Greg Metzgar, USA

One of the most dangerous and demanding jobs of a dismounted combat patrol is that of the point man. The point man is the "eyes and ears" for the rest of the patrol. He must constantly remain alert to the security situation in front and to the sides of his element. If the point man fails to recognize the indicators leading to danger, he risks compromising his patrol.


By identifying an impending danger, the point man is the one who alerts the rest of the patrol immediately to counter or neutralize the anticipated threat. He is alert for other possible hidden dangers—booby traps, mines, or any type of early warning device—that the enemy places for a tactical edge. And it is the point man who picks the exact route in which the patrol will move.

As Christian officers serving in our Armed Forces, we are Christ's point men for advancing the gospel and working to accomplish the mission intent of "uniting Christian officers for biblical fellowship and outreach, equipping and encouraging them to minister effectively in the military society."[1] Those of us who call ourselves Christian are also accountable to the High Commander's mission to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).

Being one of Christ's point men in the military service is not for the faint of heart. A point man is under considerable pressure all of the time. He must never let his guard down, but must stay laser-focused on his job. If he falters, he not only endangers his own life, but also the lives of those who follow.

The enemy—Satan—has perfected many tactics, techniques, and procedures to dissuade, deter, defeat, and destroy those who walk point in the Army of our Lord. Satan can effectively attack you whether you're walking on point in a combat zone or in a headquarters job in the Pentagon.

To paraphrase author Steve Farrar, if Satan can neutralize a spiritual point man through an impropriety involving a financial or integrity issue, or by a sexual escapade, he has in essence neutralized that officer's witness as well. Not only the reputation of that leader, but the reputation of his organization has been tarnished. Satan's strategy has always been to take out the point man, because without the point man the patrol is blinded and unaware of the way to avoid the other pitfalls which wait ahead of the patrol.[2]

Prove your mettle

Successful military service is framed by commitment; physical, moral, and ethical discipline; service before self; integrity; and a willingness to give your life for others. In order to become a point man in a military unit, you must first prove your mettle as a soldier.

It is no different if you desire to become a spiritual point man. Serving on point for Christ requires you to discipline yourself and show you are worthy to do the task. Each of us has the opportunity to choose to lead as a spiritual point man, setting the example as a leader who knows God's Word and allows Christ to use him to witness to the unsaved serving in uniform.

First of all we must learn about our equipment and master how to use it. Before a paratrooper makes his first airborne jump, or a pilot solos for the first time, they both learn the basics of the equipment that will impact their success or failure. For the spiritual point man this means donning the "whole armor of God" as described in Ephesians 6.

Once we know the basics concerning the instruments of our chosen profession we must then learn to collectively apply them. In military language we often refer to this as the crawl-walk-run method. Our training programs are intentionally structured to expand upon themselves from the lowest to the highest levels. Our officer programs start with our pre-commissioning training, build during our initial basic course, and then continue to build into our staff and senior service colleges.

Crawl, walk, and run

Spiritual training occurs in the crawl-walk-run method too. As young Christians we enter into the military with no operational experience for integrating our faith into the military profession. Hopefully we will be found and mentored by biblically grounded mentors.

Under a godly mentor, a Christian officer will continue to progress and grow from the crawl to the walk stage of the military faith journey. Contact with Christian mentors, unit-level Bible studies, and strong accountability partners help to develop the emerging spiritual point man. By the middle of their careers, devoted Christians are ready to start leading their own spiritual patrols.

Still spending time in God's Word, and being mentored (much like Christ did with His disciples in "cadre-led patrols") they start their own patrols in the form of local Bible studies, OCF groups, and chapel activities; building upon their own experiences, leading in a godly manner.

By the time true spiritual point men reach the higher levels of military leadership they are spiritual combat veterans. At this level the experienced spiritual point man will have led his personnel through many spiritual danger zones and lived to tell about it, much like Paul's adventures in the book of Acts.         

In the enemy's site

Being a spiritual point man requires voluntarily putting yourself in the most dangerous position on the battlefield. Satan will always have you in the site of his rifle, and will probably lay a few spiritual ambushes for you along the way. He has had lots of time to perfect his tactical level expertise.

The late Colonel Harry Summers once wrote of a conversation between himself and a North Vietnamese officer in Hanoi in 1975. "You know you never defeated us on the battlefield," said Summers. The North Vietnamese colonel pondered and stated back, "That may be so, but it is also irrelevant."[3]

Satan may think that he is winning because he has had a few successes on the tactical field. That is irrelevant, however, because his strategy is flawed and he is doomed to ultimate failure. He is on borrowed time, doing all he can before he is soundly defeated by Christ in the final spiritual offensive (Revelation 20).

There may be times when you're discouraged, when your spiritual strength and confidence may be shaken, or when you grow tired from the high spiritual operational tempo. Do not lose hope! Though the tactical situation may appear to be in someone else's hands right now, the final strategic victory is sealed by Christ's death upon the cross.

So grab your gear, and get ready! You have the point today.


LTC Greg Metzgar is the Concept Integration Chief, J9 Futures Group, US Joint Forces Command.  He recently returned from Iraq where he served as an operational planner and trainer with the Iraqi National Counterterrorism Force Transition Team. Greg and his wife, Denise, have three children.




[1] Mission focus of Officers' Christian Fellowship (OCF).

[2] Steve Farrar, Point Man: How a Man Can Lead His Family.  (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 1990)

[3] Harry G. Summers, On Strategy--A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War (Navato, CA: Presidio Press, 1982)