Chapter 1. Introduction

We developed this study for officers who have reached the rank of lieutenant colonel, commander, or higher ranks. As a ministry that works specifically within the military, we realize that promotion to these ranks places you in a significant position of seniority within your service. This will place additional responsibilities on you and your family, responsibilities that will increase with continuing promotions.

“Senior Officer” may seem an ambiguous term. We have chosen to define it starting at the rank of lieutenant colonel or commander because of the command opportunities and decision-making positions available to officers of such rank.

We expect your new experiences will be similar to all those who have gone before you. The increased expectations placed upon you will be manifested in more independent decision making and in broader and deeper organizational or command responsibilities. The issues you will identify and address will be increasingly complex and difficult.

The environment in which you work will become increasingly ambiguous, and you will have a greater opportunity and responsibility to shape that environment rather than having it defined for you. With this comes the responsibility to address moral-ethical issues and to establish a positive climate, both professionally and spiritually, for those within your sphere of influence.

We want to help equip you for these responsibilities in two distinct but integrated areas of life, professional and spiritual. The material contained in this handbook is designed toward that end. Its value to you will depend upon the quality of reflection and study you invest in it.

Why does OCF have a specific interest in senior officers?

OCF equips its members and their families to be excellent disciples of Jesus Christ and also excellent professional military servants. We encourage them to integrate these two areas of their lives by viewing the military society as their specific mission field. We are dedicated to have an ever-increasing influence on the military society as a whole, which we believe will have a positive influence on our nation for God.

Senior officers in the U.S. military are given the responsibility for vision, leadership, and decision making. You will be an example both professionally and spiritually. The quality of your example in each area will be determined by your attitudes and actions. You have the opportunity to bring some special qualities to your command, the local OCF and the expanded Christian community that more junior officers cannot bring. Some of these are as follows:

  • A model of the relevance of faith to life at the level of rank to which many junior officers aspire.
  • Elimination of the perception by many junior officers that a committed Christian cannot be successful at senior levels.
  • Serving as “salt” among senior peers and within deliberations and decisions affecting the command.
  • Having an active ministry among senior peers.
  • Wisdom of years of experience in the military.
  • Experiences in life to be used to encourage and disciple younger members.
  • A model of a marriage and family that demonstrates all of these characteristics. Your spouse and family will also bring their own special qualities that will be sought by their peers and by those younger than they are.

Thus OCF finds it appropriate to help senior officers meet the spiritual demands and opportunities of their important positions. Many senior officers, along with their spouses and families, are actively modeling these qualities. Some of their examples are included in this booklet. The content has been designed to help equip and encourage you to:

  • Spend private time with God for continuing spiritual growth; place an appropriate emphasis on ministering to and with your family, and to see your work as your ministry.
  • See your position from God’s perspective and use your position to accomplish biblically-derived goals.
  • Develop an attitude that is usable by God, an attitude of serving those for whom you have been given responsibility.
  • Have a spiritual vision that includes the unique opportunities and capabilities that your position and rank afford the body of Christ!
  • Develop the role of professional and spiritual teacher and encourager that is intentional, not merely passive or convenient.
  • Understand the national impact you will have as a senior officer, to make that impact positive both professionally and spiritually, and to integrate (not compartmentalize) professional leadership with the spiritual leadership commensurate with your position and spiritual maturity.

In summary, we want to help you strengthen the meshing of your faith with your professional attitudes and actions so that you may reflect the character of God.

Your senior position will place increased demands upon you professionally, and upon your family–perhaps at a time when your children may be experiencing critical transition points in life. Setting priorities for your time and attention will often be difficult. Our intent is not to overburden you with organizational demands, but to encourage you to view new circumstances as opportunities for ministry to individuals and families who share the military profession with you. God is sovereign. He knows the intimate details of your situation and has specific growth and ministry purposes for all aspects of it.

You have many choices before you. Our encouragement to you is to not be controlled by your circumstances but to maintain the focus of your life on the Lord Jesus Christ. He will enable you to make choices that fulfill His purposes for your life and will give you confidence as you seek your own unique application of His Word in your profession, family and ministry.

Your response

You will decide how you respond to your position, to God’s Word and to the thoughts contained in this handbook. We urge you first to go to God in prayer. We offer neither pat answers nor formulas for the way you will live as God’s man or woman in your specific situation. God has created us each uniquely. We have different talents, gifts, families and circumstances. We are all at different stages in the process of growing toward spiritual maturity. But God does provide numerous principles and some absolutes on how He expects us to respond.

You have two choices, as follows:

  1. Will I choose to be obedient to God in living out my faith? A positive response is unquestionably God’s will. This is the most important choice. We are convinced, from almost fifty years of ministering to military men and women, that if you consider your career to be more important than faithfulness to God, you will be unfulfilled.
  2. Will I be actively involved in the OCF as I live out my faith? We are asking you to honestly consider this before God.

The six sections that follow address the topics of priorities, position, attitude, vision, role and integration. Prayerful study and reflection upon them will help you determine godly responses to your new rank and duties. These sections contain scriptural studies applicable to both your professional and spiritual life. They will help you address all the complexity involved in the considerable responsibilities of senior national service, how it impacts on your family, and your ultimate responsibility to your Creator and Savior.

Use this study with your Bible during your daily quiet time. Make notes about your observations from Scripture and the actions you will take to follow through on the things God shows you. After you complete this handbook, keep it for your own reference or to share with others who face similar decisions.