Great Expectations

size0Everything comes with expectations. Any hobby or occupation you pursue requires investment of both time and resources. Interpersonal relationships of all kinds come with expectations for roles, boundaries, and focus. Military service starts with a process to break down personal identity and establish an assimilated foundation of the person’s new role, position, and expected performance. It is easy enough to understand and agree to comply with these expectations, but can you really achieve all that is expected of you? Let’s break down the actual expectations for service members and Christians to see what we’re are charged with.

Being a Soldier is simple. Be at the right place, at the right time, in the right uniform. Follow orders from superiors. Work hard and do a good job. Too easy. All we are really asked to do is:

Obey every federal and state law, any applicable international agreement, all military regulations, policy letters, unit mandates, and supervisory orders. Prioritize mission over all else but always strive to improve your personal self. Feel free to have a family if you can balance it out. Don’t cut corners or deviate from standards – ever. Under no circumstances will you accept failure, no matter how inevitable. But of course, don’t forget to place others before yourself and be a 110% team player. Be kind and gentle and accommodating to subordinates but don’t you dare be a hindrance or inconvenience to your superiors. Also, be able to anticipate every possible scenario to prevent disaster and properly handle other people’s mistakes and poor choices. Oh yeah, be a Soldier athlete but don’t get hurt.

While you’re at it, make sure you embrace a willingness to commit acts of violence at the request of the nation to ensure justice in the world and make safe those who take for granted the freedoms you guard. Regardless of your personal values and convictions, don’t bring your personal life to the workplace because you will hurt someone else’s feelings and we must maintain a system of equality in an organization built upon foundational separation of classes and decentralized cohorts (military occupation specialties). Do control and alter your personal life to bring credit and honor to the Armed Forces. Know precisely when to act, and exactly when to refrain. Make sure you teach others skillsets to strengthen your unit, but don’t be willing to accept that some people just simply don’t have the natural capacity to grasp every concept they encounter. Always be faithful in uphold the standards and traditions of our 240 year old Army, but willingly accepting new age cultural assimilation and generational transitions.

Now that we have addressed Soldiering in a nut-shell (and considering the possibility of disillusioned and utterly demoralized new Soldier readers out there), I have good news! Being a perfect person to God’s standard is even simpler, right? All we have to do is be like Christ. This means:

Overcome all human failings, including a birthright to original sin and its reward of death and damnation. Obey God’s law and do not sin – ever. Completely relinquish yourself to God, forsaking all else and worshipping only Him. Keep your mind right, thinking only of God’s path for you and how you can grow closer to Him or how to help others achieve the same. Keep your heart pure, shunning emotions such as anger and seeking only that which is righteous. Keep your body disciplined, both healthy and in a state of submission to your right mind and heart. Never fall to temptation. Study God’s word with a ravenous hunger and thirst for purity. Know God’s intent and always speak with His authority. Stand in awe of all God’s power and creativity as witnessed in creation; being ever thankful and ensuring you don’t squander gifted resources. Marvel more so at the favor God bestowed upon you, His most prized creation. Be humble before others and always react to others with empathy and forgiveness, but don’t hesitate to embrace righteous fury and hold others accountable for their shortcomings. Wear every piece of the Armor of God. Shine the set daily. Keep the Fruit of the Spirit well stocked – properly maintained for freshness. Talk to God often and actively listen, being mindful that answers are presented in many ways. Periodic miracles always help sway the masses too.

jesus_helpingOkay, as facetious as I may have been with those descriptions, we all know being a Soldier and being a Christian are quite difficult in their own ways. That difficulty only compounds when we wear both hats. A thorough, objective and honest understanding of how hopeless our situations can be is the only way we can ever hope to overcome all the impossibilities we face. It is impossible to be the perfect Soldier – even the “greats” have skeletons in their closets. It is impossible to be a perfect being – our chance at that claim was lost in the Garden of Eden and since then “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23.

Nevertheless, we are held to these seemingly impossible standards and in regard to those expectations, service to God and service to the nation are not dissimilar. An article (dated in 2013) by Kowal Communications, Inc. estimated the number of laws governing ownership of guns at around 20,000. Additionally, the article states that, at the time, there were just shy of 4,500 listed federal crimes. Reflecting on the sheer amount of laws (of all governmental echelons and organizations) and doctrine for military service and, more importantly, everything outlined in the Word of God left me understandably overwhelmed. How on earth can we manage it all? Well, it is rather easy after all.

The act of accepting Christ as Lord and Savior is not a grand performance, nor is it truly initiated by the new believer. Sure, it is a display of personal humility before God and a gesture to open the way for communion with God. However, just because the person opened their metaphoric lane of traffic doesn’t mean all other lanes were blocked to begin with. Acceptance is just that, a reception of God’s gift of salvation. Acceptance of that wonderful gift comes with several responsibilities:

The bottom line is if you strive to be Christ-like, the rest will come. The expectation is for Christians to live a life pursuant of Biblical standards. Biblical standards are fewer in number and significantly more succinct than those written by man, but they are much deeper and all-encompassing. True perfection is humanly unattainable, but the constant pursuance of achieving that standard is expected of us.It is about striving to meet the standards and being resilient through adversity and setbacks. A firm grasp of the Bible’s teachings and the pursuit of a right relationship with God will inevitably usher in success on both fronts.

Everyone benefits from the primary and tertiary blessings God may bestow upon a Godly man or woman in the workplace – even if that workplace ends up being a foxhole. God is good all the time and all the time God is good. Strive to walk in God, work in accordance with the gifts you’ve received and share that joy with others so that God may bless both you and them. Then you will see yourself achieving those great expectations.