Chapter 3. Your Position

One concern for a senior Christian officer is the use or misuse of his or her position for Christian activity. Clearly, every individual must come before God and wrestle with how He intends for you to use the authority of your position as a senior officer.

This question may be described as a road with a ditch on either side. The surface of the road represents the path of God’s intentions for you. The ditch on the left represents the abuse of your authority. This could take the extreme, for example, of requiring subordinates to attend a Bible study. A more subtle behavior would be to act in such a way that your subordinates get the impression they must participate in chapel or OCF activities in order to gain your professional approval and a good efficiency (or effectiveness) report. Such a message can be sent without your awareness or intention.

The other ditch, on the right, represents inactivity or silence about your faith. You fall into this ditch when you fail to integrate your faith and your professional duties in a vital and positive way. Satan loves to lead you into this ditch even more than the other. When you fall into the left ditch, at least people start talking about the proper relationship between Christian faith and the military profession. When you fall into the right ditch, nobody talks about the Bible or Christ.

History and experience reveal that there is much discussion about the left ditch but very, very few senior of fleers fall into it. Too many officers stray into the right ditch, either through a lack of proper understanding of God’s will for them, or through a lack of faith.

You will exert spiritual influence on your superiors, peers and subordinates. Those who hold senior positions in the U. S. Armed Forces will never have a neutral effect on their comrades-in-arms. Will your influence be godly, or will it be tainted by the values of this darkening world?

The priorities of two senior officers

A senior commander who was involved in significant and direct spiritual leadership responded to a question on how he found time for such involvement when others in similar positions said they didn’t have time: “You do those things that you want to do.”

A senior officer leading a front-line unit in combat who met regularly with others for Bible study and coordinated other spiritual activities across a number of units responded, “It just seemed the thing to do.

What should be your attitudes toward the spiritual dimensions of position, authority and rank? What principles can you identify in God’s Word? How can you apply them in your duties? Study and meditate on the following Scripture notes as you answer these questions.

Psalm 75

Read Psalm 75. Who really is in control of all events? If an excellent record results in promotion, who is the primary source of the abilities and gifts that enable a person to attain high rank? Consider the following principles:

  • God is sovereign. Even though we are relatively free agents with the ability to make decisions, timing and situations are ultimately in His control, designed for His purpose.
  • Promotion and position are from God. Verses 6 and 7 are popular verses, often quoted at a promotion ceremony. The key question, however, is this: “In addition to giving God the glory for your promotion or position only on one day at the ceremony, how can these things be used effectively for Him every day?”
  • God is the Judge. Your final and most important efficiency (fitness) report will be rendered by God. How closely will your life reflect the stewardship responsibilities He assigned to you?

Esther 4:10-14

Read Esther 4:10-14. Although Esther had a special position in the governing structure, her real identity was with the minority, the people of God. Which would she choose, to use the position for her own welfare, or to take the opportunity presented by her position to be an advocate for God? Here are three important principles for senior leaders to consider.

  • God will not be thwarted by a human leader’s inactivity. He will cause His ultimate purpose to be accomplished, regardless of a leader’s choice for personal welfare or actively living for Him.
  • A leader can choose to be significant in God’s purposes, or to be insignificant regardless of human accomplishments. What will be your choice? Fifteen years after you are no longer an active duty senior officer, what will be the significance of the things you accomplished in the eyes of the world, and in the sight of God?
  • The combination of rank and position, and the human needs of those you lead, provide great opportunities for you to be used by God. What specific opportunities are being presented to you? How will you respond to them? Are you willing to be used by the Spirit of God?

Expectations from Christ

LUKE 12:48. From Christ’s Discourse on the Faithful Servant. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

MATTHEW 25:14-30. The Parable of the Talents. Many Christians can relate this parable, but what do it and the teaching in the passage above mean to a senior officer?

  • Earthly things–position, power, material goods–are not intrinsic to us, but entrusted to us by God. The characters in Christ’s parables are servants who were provided capability by their master.
  • The more He gives, the more He will expect–yes even demand. Promotion is based upon potential, not reward. A military leader knows each promotion means that more will be expected of him by his service and by the nation. The military profession is very demanding. Christ’s words indicate that spiritual responsibility is also expected. Yes, it is demanded by the Lord of Lords.
  • He will review your performance against His expectations. Just as a senior officer continues to receive professional performance reviews that are judged against increasing expectations, so God will evaluate spiritual performance against that which He has entrusted to us. Christ’s words in Matthew 25 are descriptive. Anyone sitting on a promotion board would understand them. “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (vss. 21, 23). “Wicked, lazy servant” (vs. 26), “worthless servant” (vs. 30).
  • The more He gives, the more He will expect–yes even demand. Promotion is based upon potential, not reward. A military leader knows each promotion means that more will be expected of him by his service and by the nation. The military profession is very demanding. Christ’s words indicate that spiritual responsibility is also expected. Yes, it is demanded by the Lord of Lords.

How will you use what God has given you? As you reflect on this question, we urge you to consider those special qualities that you bring to your command.

As you consider the next sections in this booklet, which address attitudes and vision, we offer the comments of two flag officers who are serving in significant command positions with national visibility.

  • “Your activity as a Christian senior officer may be quietly supporting, privately encouraging, setting the environment, but you must have activity.”
  • “You are responsible as the spiritual leader of your organization. You must be concerned about the spiritual welfare of all of your people, and as a Christian you would like all of your people to know Jesus Christ. Sow within the bounds of the first amendment (which I interpret as keeping government out of religion and not vice versa) you must lay the ground work to keep your unit spiritually fit.”
  • “You must set the proper Christian example in all of your professional and spiritual activities. You should participate in specific spiritual activities as God leads you under your circumstances. (I am not adverse to attending or having OCF Bible study in our home.) Perhaps just as important is establishing the institutional spiritual environment in your unit that will allow spiritual workers to be successful in leading others to Christ using the principles espoused by OCF.”
  • “As a senior leader you cannot do all the work yourself, either professionally or spiritually, but you must provide the resources to make your subordinates successful. More simply put, your people need to know from your actions that it is right to love God, trust in His plan, and obey His commandments.”

A final comment on your position. Regardless of your own level of spiritual maturity, it will be vital for you to cultivate fellowship with and be accountable to another Christian officer(s) who will:

  • understand from his or her own professional experiences the pressures, demands and opportunities of your position.
  • be frequently available for mutual fellowship and accountability.

We encourage you to see your promotion and position from God’s perspective and to use your position to accomplish biblical goals.

Study questions

Do you agree that your promotion and position are from God?

How can you actively use your current position and rank to glorify God?

What does He expect from you?