Military people love countdown calendars. When I was in the Air Force, I couldn’t wait until I would be able to retire. Now that I am retired, I wish I could put the uniform back on and head for an Air Force flight line. Having come to the Air Force from the Marine Corps, I always felt a little displaced. The esprit de corps of the Marine Corps is second to none. But, somehow I think the Air Force life seeped into my pores more than I ever imagined. Now that I work for the Army, I use words like post, garrison and DFAC (Army word for chow hall). It’s a little embarrassing when I speak at an Air Force transition class and make mention to something being ‘on post.’
How did I change? Why was the AF able to change me to the point that I wish I were still on active duty? It happened around the time I made master sergeant. Suddenly I realized I had been trusted by the Air Force to enter into senior enlisted management. Honestly, I don’t think I was that great of a mid-level non-commissioned officer. Before making master sergeant, I didn’t really get the big picture. I was in my military specialty and reasonably successful at that job. But, when I made E-7 it suddenly seemed to be a new ball game.
Just as the Air Force expected me to spend much time studying the regulations and standard operating procedures of my job, so too does God expect us to spend time with Him. The Bible has much to say about spending time in prayer and spending time in God’s word. That’s when we begin to think like God and find victory in our lives. As I immerse myself in the things of God, I begin to move closer and closer to the image of Jesus. Just as I matured in my Air Force career to the point that I began thinking like a ‘lifer’, so too will God’s word change my way of thinking.
As I spent my years in the Air Force and as I grew older in my stripes, decisions came easier to me. That which would have made me panic a few years earlier, I found myself equipped for in those later years. When I was a younger troop and my bosses would assign me tasks I was not comfortable with, I later found out were designed to stretch me and force me to develop into a more successful enlisted leader. In the Christian walk, our faith becomes more of who we are and not just rules that we memorize.
In the same manner as the military did as I was coming up through the ranks, God gives us challenges. He stretches us from our comfort zones so we can be better equipped for the work of the ministry. He is not as concerned with my comfort as he is my development. The Lord is not impressed with my gifting, but wants to see my faithfulness. Is military life really any different? Allow yourself to be stretched in your career and allow God to stretch you in your faith walk.