Introduction: Resliiency

 

Springing back when hit with adversity... remaining flexible and buoyant in the ups and downs of life... persevering and thriving through difficulties... all identify resilient individuals and teams.

 

In writing these thoughts, I’ve gone back to my daily prayer journals of deployments to Afghanistan in 2002 and again 2003-2004. I’ve recalled individuals, experiences and incidents that served to build my resilience over the years. The prayers of former Chaplain of the United States Senate, Lloyd Ogilvie (1995-2003), have been instrumental in framing this project.

 

This booklet identifies right thinking and character strengths, God-given perspectives to live a vibrant, energized life. Read through the entire work to get the full picture. Then, drill down into each thought. Periodically refresh your thinking with these truths. Experience God’s energizing presence—every day, no matter where you are or what you’re facing.

 

Chaplain Ken Sampson

 

 

 

 

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1. Those Who Take Us Higher

 

Join the company of good men and women, keep your feet on the tried-and-true paths. —Proverbs 2:20

 

“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher,” reads a hand-painted wooden plaque on my wife’s bookcase. The message speaks of the encouragement we receive from positive, uplifting individuals. Good women and men surround us in Armed Forces circles. They help raise energy and enthusiasm as we pursue our nation’s high call.

 

Confront selfish or self-centered thoughts with this truth: God works through his people to sustain and stabilize us. Celebrate this. Renew your appreciation for those with whom you serve. With elevated perspective, enjoy the challenges and delights of this day. Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got....

 


2. Stick-to-itiveness

 

Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got.... —1 Corinthians 16:13

 

“The number one trait for an infantryman is persistence—resolute, unbending, continuous,” instructed my first Infantry Battalion Executive Officer. Finishing what we start. Making step-by-step progress to a goal. Our Armed Forces calling requires steady purpose and determined will. Yet, one beauty of faith is the truth that God’s Spirit sustains and upholds us. He backs, supports and carries us no matter the hardship or responsibility. His strength can firm our resolve.

 

When tempted to take a shortcut or go for the quick fix, refocus. Be persistent. God’s gracious power is available. Open your eyes to His abiding presence. “Give it all you’ve got.” Go forward, confident and composed, ever-secured by God’s robust, all-powerful hand. Keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. 

 


3. Energetic and Alive

 

Keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. —Romans 12:11-12

 

We all recognize buoyant, invigorating people—the motivated Noncommissioned Officer re-enlisting for a combat-zone deployment; a Department of Defense civilian whose spirits remain high despite chronic illness; the widowed spouse whose contagious good-humor enlivens all privileged to know her. What is the source of this uncommon zest and enthusiasm?

 

“God sets us on the road to life,” reads Psalm 66:9. He loves us. He desires the best for us. His grace empowers us. His Spirit strengthens us. When adversity numbs you to be dull, sluggish and lifeless, remain alert! The One who sets you on the road of life keeps you fueled and alive. Internalize this timeless truth. Steer through conflicting times, cheerfully expectant of God’s reassuring presence. Pray that God will fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something.

 


4. Well-Directed Energy

 

Pray that God will fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. —2 Thessalonians 1:11

 

As members of the Department of Defense, we’re well-acquainted with discipline. Whether wearing the uniform properly, engaging in physical training or learning military occupational specialty (MOS) skills, we control our appetites, temper emotions and live up to high standards. Self-control is essential.

 

Nevertheless, anxiety can dislodge us. Invasive thoughts can immobilize. When assailed by such negativity, focus on the promises of Scripture. “God brings gifts to your lives” (Galatians 5:22). By His inner power, we’re able to concentrate our energies wisely. His assistance and care enable us to realize our goals, step-by-step.

 

Composed and well-governed emotions can be ours. With the Lord’s strength, we can press on, confident our energies are directed right. Counting on God’s Rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength. 

 

 


5. Game Face On

 

Counting on God’s Rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength. —Habakkuk 3:19

 

“There will be only cheerful faces at this conference table,” warned General Eisenhower on 19 December 1944. During the most gloomy and distressing moments of World War II’s Battle of the Bulge, the Allied commander knew the power of a positive mindset. Alert, expectant, confident spirits—“game face on”—were required of senior leaders.

 

During Combined Task Force Mountain, Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), I daily interacted with our Commanding General (CG). Whatever the hour, circumstance or combat-leadership pressure, never once did his “game face” drop. He transferred energy, vitality and exuberance of spirit to the entire Task Force. It was a privilege to serve under his day-in, day-out cheer-inspiring leadership.

 

Be immunized against distress and pessimism. Challenge negative moods. Pray that God’s radiant presence is reflected on your face. Visualize it happening. Enjoy divine joy and composure, whatever the external condition. What a beautiful thing, God, to give thanks, to sing an anthem to you, the High God!

 


6. Muscle Memory

 

What a beautiful thing, God, to give thanks, to sing an anthem to you, the High God! —Psalm 92:1

 

When we train correctly for a physical sport or squad-level maneuver, we condition our muscles to respond properly. When testing comes, “muscle memory” automatically kicks in. We react with confidence to meet the challenge successfully.

 

In the same way, we can train ourselves for gratitude to kick in. Habitual thanks is a beautiful thing. It connects us directly to God and others. “Gratitude memory”—thankfulness, appreciation—when imprinted upon our consciousness, equips us to thrive whatever the pressure of circumstance. Ordinary and exceptional deeds of those closest to us can prompt a thankful response.

 

Live generously. Thank teammates. Take delight in showing gratitude. Condition your mind to constantly give words of appreciation. Tap this inner strength to increase your enthusiasm, energy and vitality. In the process, gratitude will overflow and infuse others. Good friend... Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom; set your heart on a life of Understanding. 

 


7. Balanced and Mature

 

Good friend... Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom; set your heart on a life of Understanding. —Proverbs 2:1-2

 

Standing firm in the face of adversity. Being even-tempered and well-balanced. Accepting the offer of God’s wisdom rather than our own. Over time I saw these character strengths develop in our first-term chaplains and chaplain assistants.

 

Pre-deployment training through a “school for preachers,” rigorous field exercises and mentoring by more senior leaders helped prepare these new teams. Then, in combat, I observed their tempered, competent work. It brought great satisfaction.

 

God’s Spirit, living in us, can train us to be alert, attentive to His guidance. A sound, calm state of mind—free of obsessive, intrusive, catastrophic thoughts—can be ours. Adapt to stressful life events with the Lord’s insight. Steel your heart to be receptive to His wisdom. Go forward energized and refreshed. I’ve filled [Bezalel] with the Spirit of God, giving him skill and know-how and expertise in every kind of craft....he’s an all-around craftsman. 

 


8. An Extraordinary Boost

 

I’ve filled [Bezalel] with the Spirit of God, giving him skill and know-how and expertise in every kind of craft.... he’s an all-around craftsman. —Exodus 31:2,5

  

“Be safe, be blessed and get on the energy bus!” is the e-mail tagline I received from a respected Sergeant Major deployed to Afghanistan. The phrase is original, unusual, fun. It inspires and elevates the spirits.

 

Often we fall into the routine. Dull, boring, “mind-numbing” responses are a result. “Risk-averse” solutions, so often boring and predictable, become the standard.

 

Challenge your thinking. Realize that the power of the Creator of the Universe resides within you. He intervenes. Take appropriate risks. Creative imaginations, fresh excitement, bold expectations of great insights can be ours.

 

Confront the commonplace. “Get on the energy bus! ” Seek creative solutions. In the process, you’ll make a difference, powered by God’s artistic imagination. You’ve always given me breathing room.... A lifetime pass to your safe-house, an open invitation as your guest.

 


9. Calm Confidence in Difficulty

 

You’ve always given me breathing room.... A lifetime pass to your safe-house, an open invitation as your guest. —Psalm 61:3-4

 

Memories of chapel-attending NCO wives continue to inspire me. Though their Soldier spouses were deployed in the harshest of combat conditions, these dedicated leaders thrived in the extraordinary challenges of life during war. Their influence continues to capture my imagination.

 

As the chapel was a “safe-house” for these NCO wives, so his quiet presence can strengthen and uplift us. God’s calm confidence is available in the difficulties and stressors of life. He offers a “safe-house,” a place of quiet and repose, to give us “breathing room” in times of adversity.

 

Receive His resilience-building fortitude. Do not shrink from the threats and challenges at hand. Hold fast to God’s mighty hand. In being faithful over the long haul, His endurance-bolstering presence will be yours. But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him....

 


10. God's Chosen One

 

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him.... —1 Peter 2:9

 

“You must earn your way in war with courage and skill,” writes one of our distinguished combat veterans. “Flash” and insincerity are quickly erased. Truth-telling and day-in and day-out dependability are trusted values. These character strengths are so crucial—be we public servant or Armed Forces member.

 

As those chosen by God to do His work, we live lives of integrity. We are sincere and honest in our thinking, feeling and acting. Divinely inspired self-awareness strips away invitations to self-deception and manipulation.

 

When marriage vows are subtly threatened by emotional closeness to someone other than our spouse, we flee such unfaithfulness. When tempted to distort the truth for personal advantage, we resist such deceit. God’s gracious, guiding hand steers us. Pursue a walk of honesty and commitment. I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition.

 


11. Disciplined Courage

 

I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. —1 Corinthians 9:26

 

“Sleep is the fuel for the frontal lobes of the brain,” says one of our nation’s foremost authorities on combat stress. “If sleep-deprived, then you’re really out of gas.”

 

In combat deployments and training exercises, our Armed Forces seem to reward superhuman rest patterns. “Battle Captains” and “Iron Majors” go for days with little or no sleep. Such drive, however, takes a toll. We need restrained balance over the long haul to stay alert and alive.

 

God provides us disciplined courage. He enables calm assessment of our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical conditions. Follow His lead in setting sleep, diet, devotional and exercise patterns. Obtain renewed personal courage from the Lord’s inexhaustible reservoir as you implement your disciplined routine. Remain “in top condition, ” strengthened by God’s reliable power. God went ahead of them in a Pillar of Cloud during the day to guide them on the way, and at night a Pillar of Fire to give them light….

 


12. Adventure and Discovery

 

God went ahead of them in a Pillar of Cloud during the day to guide them on the way, and at night a Pillar of Fire to give them light…. —Exodus 13:21

 

Adventure. Exploration. Discovery. Life within the Armed Forces can be one of tempered risk and thrill. Whether “Airborne!” parachute or “Australian” rappelling training, survival in Arctic cold or deploying anew into a combat zone, our life is filled with variety and challenge.

 

The robust support of God’s Spirit enables us to be confident and open to new experiences. He often takes us from comfortable, predictable routines into new opportunities for growth and development.

 

Replace weariness, fear or indifference with expectant anticipation. Be open to God’s guidance. Recognize His all-surrounding, protective presence. Press on to new adventures with excitement and joy. What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at your side.

 


13. Find Beauty Around You

 

What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at your side. —Psalm 104:24

 

The distant ranges of the Hindu Kush were in full view on three sides of Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield. Snow layered the upper peaks for 10 months of the year. Awe-inspiring views of the craggy ranges are among my fondest memories of Operation Enduring Freedom.

 

Appreciation of the beauty of God’s created world is key to a healthy mind and inner strength. Being alert to and aware of God’s handiwork can uplift spirits and expand perspectives.

 

This resilience booster is a proven way to more joy, deeper meaning and connection with all of God’s children. Be attentive to examples of His handiwork—whether grand, snow-capped mountains, delicate desert spring blossoms or exuberant forest timbers. Allow yourself to be stunned by His majesty. And realize that the creative strength of our all-wise God is available to assist you this day. God delights in his people. 

 

 


14. Bringing Smiles to Others

 

God delights in his people. —Psalm 149:4

 

The platoon was taking a break. After nearly three straight days of rain, sleet and snow, Soldiers had their boots off, airing skin and massaging toes. I approached one infantryman, a regular at our chapel services. Though the soles of his feet were shriveled, pasty and inflamed, his warm, genuinely cheerful greeting brought a smile to my face.

 

God takes delight in us. No matter what the adversity or tough condition, His joy positively connects us with others. Exuberance and serene composure can be ours.

 

When difficult circumstances tempt you to be grim and tight-lipped, take pause. A life of faith is a life filled with gladness and joy. Maintain your flexibility. Enjoy the camaraderie of other team members. Allow God’s Spirit to infuse good humor within you. Approach the day renewed and refreshed. ... Keep these instructions without prejudice, doing nothing on the basis of partiality. 

 

 


15. Forward Observers

 

... Keep these instructions without prejudice, doing nothing on the basis of partiality. —1Timothy 5:21 (NRSV)

 

“Make sure you visit the forward observers,” counseled the former Fire Support Team (FIST) member, now one of my Chaplain’s Basic Course classmates. “They’re often isolated—on 2-3 person teams, feeling left out—and will benefit from a pastoral visit to their forward observation post.” I took to heart his guidance. A sense of fairness and equity drove my attention to FIST teams and other equally isolated squads. The chaplaincy experience for me has been enriched in the process.

 

Focusing on justice and equality reminds us that we’re all in this calling together. This principle of fairness builds people and teams and is critical to resilience.

 

In settings of high drama and tension, focusing on God’s character can enable us to embody compassion and care for all. In short and long-range planning sessions, we can offer opportunities for all members of the team to be valued and included. Consciously employ this character trait. See how trust and team-identity will flourish. Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person.

 


16. God's Hand for Others

 

Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person. —Proverbs 3:27

 

Actions displaying compassion can bolster resilience. Waiting behind me in line at the ID Card section was a pressured spouse, worried that her lateness would risk losing an appointment. “That’s all right, honey,” was the receptionist’s pleasant response. As she directed the family member to the correct office, I felt energized. Observing one person’s thoughtfulness uplifted my spirits.

 

Through care, concern and kindness we are privileged to reach out to others. God’s Spirit can empower us to be His healing hand—tender and generous while strong and powerful—to those near us.

 

Affirm others through your positive tone of voice and facial expression. Be that person from whom others draw vitality and resolve. In the process, your resilience will flourish. The generous hand of our God was on us, and they brought back to us a wise man....

 


17. Steady and Secure

 

The generous hand of our God was on us, and they brought back to us a wise man.... —Ezra 8:18

 

Our Political Advisor (POLAD) in Operation Enduring Freedom was a man to be admired. He was articulate, genuine and insightful. Though supervisor of other POLADs from the State Department, he stepped in to fill a four-month underlap on the Combined Joint Task Force 180 staff.

 

His emotional balance, ability to process “hot” information and capacity to communicate what we needed to hear commanded our highest respect. The “generous hand of God” was truly upon us.

 

We can be that kind of wise person as well, aware of our motives, emotions and the feelings of others. God’s gracious presence, available through His Spirit, can assist. Clear-headed wisdom for family, team or operational issues can be ours.

 

When feeling clueless and lacking insight, stop and center yourself. Seek divine understanding. Analyze “war game” solutions. Realize that, with God’s steady presence, good judgment, balance and wisdom can be yours. Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. 

  


18. Rock-Solid Leaders

 

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. —Proverbs 3:5

 

Rock-solid, Soldier-focused, tough-minded. Words like these are often used to describe Command Sergeant Majors (CSMs). During combat deployments and stateside postings, I’ve received inspiration, strength and calm from these senior leaders who serve in a unit’s highest enlisted position. When I was feeling isolated or alone, their consistent, uplifting presence re-connected and energized me.

 

In decisions and responsibilities awaiting you, heed the Scripture’s advice: “Don’t try to figure out everything on your own.” Trust God, and then enlist the insight of others—like CSMs, squad or platoon leaders, valued friends, staff associates, spiritual mentors. Benefit from the strength shared and leadership willingly offered by so many.

 

Go forward, transformed and retooled, confident in God’s power. Be buoyed up by the good sense offered by respected leaders around you. No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner, because God will be right there with you; he’ll keep you safe and sound. 

 


19. Safe and Sound

 

No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner, because God will be right there with you; he’ll keep you safe and sound. —Proverbs 3:25-26

 

A 10-day Battle Command Warfighter Exercise, held under field conditions, prepared our Division for the shocks and strains of combat. Temperatures reached minus-20 degrees. Battle-simulated computer-driven events, designated to jar and confuse, stretched commanders and staff. In the process, our procedures matured. We learned a lot.

 

The jolts and traumas of life can stun and unsettle us. Initial reactive responses can numb and baffle. Panic often ensues. Yet God’s protective presence offers us levelheaded assurance.

 

Calm and focus racing thoughts. Control your breathing. Inhale the power of God’s Spirit; breathe out intrusive, negative, alarmed thoughts. Remain safe and sound, being supported by God’s steady presence. Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. 

 


20. Genuine Friends

 

Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. —Proverbs 3:3

 

Strong, positive friendships can add bounce to our steps no matter what the strain or celebration. Whether during a tough, extended deployment, a strenuous “short suspense” project or single-parenting small children while your spouse is overseas, we all benefit from genuine friends who keep our confidences and boost our resiliency.

 

God’s love fuels and moves us to love others. A simple “how are you doing?” by a trusted comrade-in-arms can reassure and strengthen.

 

Forge strengthened bonds of courage and acceptance. Invest in a few “lingering moments” with a trusted friend. Renew now your “grip on God’s love and loyalty” to better connect with and befriend others today. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God... will have you put together and on your feet for good. 

 


21. Divine Generosity

 

So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God... will have you put together and on your feet for good. —1 Peter 5:10

 

“Bounce back” was a motto American POWs in Vietnam used with each other after undergoing harsh interrogation sessions. Torture-induced confessions gave rise to feelings of defeat and shame. To “bounce back” was to let go of beaten-down outlooks. It encouraged resilience before the next round of brutal questioning.

 

Too often we are burdened. We carry around the heavy weight of the past. Negative memories intrude, clouding and draining our spirits, sapping resilience.

 

God knows and feels what we’ve gone through. His compassion and tenderness can hearten and encourage us. He delights in offering us new chances, free of the troubled pressures of the past.

 

Take charge of negative, intrusive feelings. Grip tightly the Lord’s generous offer of His presence. “Bounce back” with renewed faith and confidence. Your faith is growing phenomenally; your love for each other is developing wonderfully. 

 


22. Maintaining a Fresh Edge

 

Your faith is growing phenomenally; your love for each other is developing wonderfully. —2 Thessalonians 1:3

 

The confident Sergeant Major was stationed at a mature combat-theater support base. In the ups-and-downs of a lengthy deployment, a key to her tempered, dynamic disposition was mastering new skills. Three-day-per-week group physical training sessions provided new exercise challenges. Periodic woodshop instruction resulted in professional-quality hardwood cutting board gifts. The Sergeant Major was a life-long learner.

 

Whether formally or on our own, we can gain new understanding and abilities. In the spiritual arena, a new pattern of prayer, Scripture study or in-depth reading can grow our faith. In the workplace, concentration on the latest information technology application can expand our capabilities.

 

Replace inactivity and sluggishness with new possibilities. Employ this resilience-builder to remain fresh and alive. Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. 

  


23. Faces of Strength

 

Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. —Isaiah 41:10

 

A Marine at Walter Reed Army Medical Center adjusting his prosthetic legs as his wife and year-and-a-half-old son offer quiet encouragement; the spouse whose calm determination is so evident at a memorial service for her Soldier husband; parents and Family members who express serene gratitude for the service of their son killed in action—these faces of strength give concrete form to character traits of bravery, persistence, vitality. For so many, God’s power is a constant source of help.

 

When your reserves of determination, perseverance and positive energy seem drained, boost your resilience. Gain strength from the example of these patriots.

 

Be grateful for the privilege of knowing such citizens. Continue with prayers for Families and friends of those wounded or lost in combat. And, be inspired. Our mighty God holds us all in His steady, firm grip. Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. 

 


24. Let It Go

 

Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. —Galatians 6:1

 

He was an extremely hard-working, exceptionally competent Executive Officer for our newly-formed Infantry Battalion. Yet what I remember most about this leader were his words to us staff members the day after an uncharacteristic, negative display of irritation and anger. “Forgive me for my outburst yesterday. I failed to act like the officer I should be.”

 

What a lesson he taught me by asking for forgiveness! We all deserve a second chance. The compassion and merciful care shown to us frees us from resentments, harmful memories and grudges. Because God is so generous to us, we forgive those who’ve done us wrong. We can treat respectfully the shortcomings in others—and ourselves.

 

God-honoring servants are big-hearted. They’re free of the burdens and resentments of the past. Embrace God’s tenderhearted kindness. Be gracious and forgiving to build highly resilient teams. Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. 

 


25. Quiet Professionals

 

Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. —James 3:13

 

The term “Quiet Professionals” could be applied to members of the Special Forces community. These small, multi-disciplinary teams operate “under the radar” to accomplish missions. They do not “toot their own horn,” but possess keep-in-the-background spirits.

 

Whether we serve in office cubicles, factory floors, combat outposts or stateside homes, we can demonstrate calm assurance based on our God-given identity. Being His servants, secure by means of His grace, frees us from arrogant, prideful, self-promoting attitudes and actions.

 

Humility is an inner state that welcomes accurate personal assessment. We can be non-defensive with constructive criticism; acknowledge our strengths and limitations knowing we are directly connected to God’s unselfish, enlivening Spirit.

 

Experience anew this day God’s silent, person-affirming strength. Live humbly. Live well. On seeing [the believers], Paul thanked God and took courage.

  


26. Taking Heart

 

On seeing [the believers], Paul thanked God and took courage. —Acts 28:15 (NRSV)

 

The durable, long-lasting, TA-50 (parachute) cord “Ranger Rosaries” are hard to keep in stock. Deployed and garrison-based personnel willingly take up these devotional aides from chaplaincy display racks. They’re prayerfully made by Sisters and friends in a Maryland parish.

 

The rosaries symbolize the teamwork and support we enjoy as members of the Department of Defense. We are privileged to be part of a greater team. God’s people uphold us in prayer, greet us in airports, send us “care packages” in combat zones.

 

When feeling energy-sapped, drained or weak-hearted, fortify your real-time resilience. Take courage. Realize that friends can help re-fuel us. Rely on God’s power, available through His people. Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course! 

 


27. Steadfast Resolve

 

Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course! —James 5:10

 

The halls of military headquarters are lined with pictures of past unit leaders. Current commanders take heart from the photos. Struggles and difficulties experienced by leaders who have gone before put complex, unpredictable present-day worries in perspective. These tangible memories can fortify resolve and confidence.

 

We all face challenges. Setbacks and hardships can threaten to overwhelm us. Yet God gives reason to prevail. We can hold fast and remain true. The resolute examples of those who have gone before can inspire and restore our passion. The witness of day-in and day-out faithfulness and pursuit of excellence can fortify weary spirits.

 

Respond productively when tough circumstances arise. With steady, step-by-step, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other resolve, we can “do the next thing” empowered by God’s Spirit and encouraged by predecessors who’ve stayed the course. Their God will save the day. He’ll rescue them. They’ll become like... gemstones in a crown, catching all the colors of the sun. 

  


28. Spiritual Assessment

 

Their God will save the day. He’ll rescue them. They’ll become like... gemstones in a crown, catching all the colors of the sun. —Zechariah 9:16

 

Purpose, secure faith, uplifting presence—the Infantry Battalion commander, whose Soldiers were assigned to difficult Afghanistan combat missions, was gifted with these spiritual assets. Whether attending stateside Mass or “leading from the front” in harsh, unyielding fighting conditions, his sturdy appearance radiated God’s presence.

 

The Lord provides us firm ground on which to stand. Fleeting feelings of spiritual emptiness, of living without roots, can be removed by His readily available power.

 

Assess your spiritual condition: Do my prayer life, devotional reading, Scripture study, shared worship and service outreach thrive? Glow with the dignity of God’s Spirit. Experience His quiet contentment this day. Observe people who are good at their work—skilled workers are always in demand and admired; they don’t take a backseat to anyone. 

  


29. Be Your (Very) Best

 

Observe people who are good at their work—skilled workers are always in demand and admired; they don’t take a backseat to anyone. —Proverbs 22:29

 

The blocks of wood portrayed five HUMMWVs. The squad leader, a Military Police Sergeant, led our mission rehearsal with competent, thorough precision. Color-coded lead and trail vehicles reinforced the verbal guidance.

 

While I had been on many Bagram to Camp Phoenix (Kabul) convoys before, never had I witnessed such a detailed briefing. The good Sergeant’s directions were excellent.

 

Our Creator God empowers us in both the routine and uncommon tasks of our days. We do not have to plod along with unimaginative work habits and solutions. Rather, we can be a rich blessing to others. We can celebrate our callings.

 

Respond to challenges and leadership opportunities with variety and innovation. Reflect God’s imaginative grace. Employ this dynamic strength of character. Your resilience and that of your teammates will be reinforced. Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious —the best, not the worst....

  


30. Focusing on the Best

 

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious —the best, not the worst.... —Philippians 4:8

 

The blowing afternoon dust constricted our breath. The searing heat sapped energy. Yet the lone petroleum specialist on the far side of Bagram, Afghanistan’s Airfield, possessed enthusiasm, vitality and life. This fuel handler’s grimy handshake remains an inspiration, his spirited commitment and dedication to excellence a wonderful memory.

 

Be mindful and alert to goodness around you. Appreciate extraordinary work done by teammates and associates. Focus on the finer things and moments of your day.

 

Meditate on things excellent and noble. Receive God’s blessings no matter what the circumstance. Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life; don’t for a minute lose sight of them. 

 


30. Clear Thinking

 

Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life; don’t for a minute lose sight of them. —Proverbs 3:21

 

The Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) is an effective planning tool. MDMP training guidance from our Division Chief of Staff directed us to include a “here’s what others are saying...” section on the issue at hand. “Be broad-minded... flexible... consider what the other side is saying. ” Great advice from the Chief.

 

We can tackle problems thoughtfully and thoroughly. We can avoid narrow, impulsive, rigid “my way or the highway” thinking traps.

 

God’s wisdom is readily available for the perplexing decisions we face. His Spirit guides us. Sound judgment, accurate thinking, and receptive understanding can be ours. Prayerfully open your thought processes to His direction and control. God’s expansive perspective will be yours. 


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