Last Updated on April 13, 2023 by OCF Communications

Episode 52 show notes

Have you ever known anyone who’s been passed over for promotion? Maybe it’s your name that wasn’t on the promotion list.

Today you’re going to hear from COL Stu McRae, USA (Ret). When the 1997 promotion list was due to be officially released, a friend called him to say,

“Stu, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’m sorry, but your name isn’t on the list.” 

It was a lynchpin moment for Stu, as he began examining what it meant to be a successful officer in the eyes of God, where he was placing his identity and self-worth, and why was he wanting to be the best at his job—what were his motives?

Stu McRae was raised in Montana where he was part of a multi-racial family, born to parents who loved God and humbly lived a life reflecting His love for others. In addition to Stu and his oldest sister who was born to his parents, his mother and father adopted 11 other children (mostly Native American). This played a significant role in teaching Stu about the love and acceptance of God.

In 1987, Stu was commissioned as a lieutenant in Military Intelligence and branch transferred to Aviation in 1990. Stu went on to command the 224th Military Intelligence Battalion, which was a fixed-wing aviation battalion, and then was the rear detachment commander for the 3rd Infantry Division in 2010. After graduating from the U.S. Army War College in 2011, Stu was selected to command the garrison of Fort Rucker, Alabama. He retired from the Army as a colonel in 2017 and now resides in Wyoming where he works developing business opportunities for Kennon Products, as well as continuing to fly airplanes as a contractor in Afghanistan.

What we talked about

  • Introducing COL McRae, His anticipation of promotion, and the reality of being passed over for promotion.
  • Learning more about who COL McRae is.
  • COL McRae explains what he meant by this statement:

“A young officer works long hours characterized by daily, rigid discipline… ever-expecting that his branch of service will recognize his dedicated labors and reward them with promotion to the next rank. He lives and breathes his service culture, often putting the military before self and family. After all, isn’t that what is expected of a successful officer?” 

From the article “So You’ve Been Passed Over”

  • COL McRae points out two questions as he reflects on what it means to be a successful officer:
    1. Where is your identity?
    2. How close is your relationship with Christ?
  • COL McRae explains what is expected, not of a successful officer, but a Christian officer.
  • COL McRae looks back on his military career, and how his idea of what a successful officer looks like has changed.
  • COL McRae explains what he meant when he wrote,

“My whole identity was so wrapped up in the Army that it dictated how I felt about myself. If I did something well or was commended, I felt good about myself; if I was not commended or worse, was reprimanded, I was devastated.”

  • COL McRae explains how he learned to put things in their proper perspectives and place his identity in Christ.
  • We talk about motives. Why do we want to do the best we can do in our jobs, and other area of our lives, and what are some ways we can test our motives? Col McRae shares the story of a note on a bathroom mirror that changed his perspective.
  • COL McRae examines motives by asking these 5 questions:
    1. Am I willing to surrender all areas of my life to God?
    2. If not, what specific areas of my life have I not yet surrendered to Him?
    3. From where or whom do I derive my identity?
    4. Who am I trying to please?
    5. What is the order of my priorities with regard to God, family, and my career?
  • Psalm 37:4, says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” COL McRae wrote,

“From the start of my career to now, God has steadily changed my desires to be more in line with His by eliminating unnecessary baggage. As we willingly submit to His authority, He is faithful to refine us and help us to find our complete fulfillment in Him.”

  • Col McRae updates us on where God is using him now, and how his view on identity has changed so drastically.
  • Col McRae gives his final recommendations for others struggling with the question of identity.

John Bevere: The Bait of Satan

  • Col McRae’s final thoughts

“One, if you go through and come out the other end and everything seems to be rosy again, the changes that you have put in place because God has worked you through things, just know that you are going to be tested on that! Two, God does want to bless you. Three, our identity in Christ is what will get us through the challenges, no matter what that challenge is.”

About OCF Crosspoint

OCF Crosspoint is a podcast produced by Officers' Christian Fellowship and is dedicated to sharing stories of military life at the intersection of faith, family, and profession.

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