It is a call that General Douglas MacArthur challenged a graduating class at West Point to in his “Duty, Honor, Country” speech. I highly recommend it as it contains a truly remarkable set of ideas—the giving up of self and doing the distasteful business of war when every passion in your body is fighting against it:
“Duty, Honor, Country”—those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be…They build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation’s defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid.
General MacArthur’s words of service and sacrifice are remarkably similar to the words spoken long ago from the greatest leader ever, our Lord Jesus Christ, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
As God’s Word so clearly states, and General MacArthur so eloquently repeated, only when our professional conduct is marked by service and sacrifice will we find the true fulfillment of our calling as military officers, leaders, and stewards of our great nation.
Each of you new officers raised your right hand and repeated an oath to faithfully support and defend the Constitution of the United States. The enlisted men and women you now lead vowed to faithfully follow your orders as their officer in support of the Constitution.
After thirty years of active duty, my undeniable observation is: if we commissioned officers and Christian military leaders truly showed our troops that we didn’t come “to be served but to serve,” they would follow us-willingly and ably, to every place, circumstance, and challenge imaginable.