How Serving My Country Prepared Me To Serve My Church by Jonathan Brodhagen
The more I’ve worked in ministry, the more I believe that the reason pastors drop out of ministry and churches plateau and decline is this: the men on mission with the church do not have the endurance and focus of a soldier—and this is exactly what the church needs.
1. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
At Basic Training, the drill sergeants hammer into you fairly quickly that you are not an individual—you are a member of a unit. This does not mean that you are not vital, but it means that you need to understand that you are a part of a bigger mission, and that your thoughts, feelings, and wants all are secondary to the mission. It’s the same in the church—it’s not your mission, but Jesus’ mission that you are on.
2. ALWAYS SLEEP WITH YOUR BOOTS ON
As Pastor Mark mentioned in his recent sermon “I Am Victorious,” you will never find a soldier in the field who does not have their boots on 24/7. On a mission, we would sleep in full gear with our weapon. You need to be ready for anything the enemy throws at you at every moment, because when you’re in ministry, you don’t work 9–5.
3. KNOW YOUR WEAPON
I spent hundreds of hours with my M4 carbine. I knew it inside and out, could quickly fix shooting malfunctions, and was proficient in using it. Likewise, when you are on staff at the church, you need to know how to use your weapon the Bible, which Ephesians 6:17 says is the sword of the Spirit.
4. DON’T DO ANYTHING WITHOUT YOUR BATTLE BUDDY
Every soldier has a battle buddy, their partner, who is expected to assist their partner both in and out of combat. Ministry is tough, and it is even tougher to do alone. In ministry you need to have co-laborers who shepherd the people with you, come alongside you, and protect you.
5. RESPECT THE CHAIN OF COMMAND
As a soldier, chain of command—and following it—is absolutely essential to the success of the unit. In the church, authority and hierarchy is just as important. First Peter 5:5 is clear that those who are younger need to submit to the elders in the church. When this does not happen, the God ordained authority that is in place is undermined and the church will not be effective in fulfilling Jesus’ mission.
6. WE ARE IN A WAR, YOU HAVE AN ENEMY
When I was in the Army, we trained for war constantly—because we were in a war. There are people in the world who hate the citizens in our country and are willing to kill them, so our soldiers exist to protect our country and fight the enemy. It is the same when you serve in the church. That said, as Ephesians 6:12 teaches, our war isn’t “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” When you serve in the church, you need to be ready to fight in this war every day.
A FEW GOOD MEN AND WOMEN
Looking at soldiers, the Apostle Paul had these things in mind when he called Timothy to be a good soldier of Christ Jesus: to serve Jesus with a toughness and a tenacity that goes above and beyond the call of duty. The church needs faithful men and women who can disciple others to be faithful men and women. The enemy daily will attack these disciples, so they need to be able to stand firm in their faith. As Titus 2 says, the older women are to train the younger women in godliness. A war is never easy, so the church needs men who will share in Jesus’ suffering. The church needs men who will not get off mission and focus on things other than what Jesus enlisted them to do.
What the church doesn’t need is weak men who are more interested in their comfort and convenience—no, the church needs a few good men who are willing to stand their ground, fight for their families, and fight for the people in their church against a real enemy who does not want the message of Jesus Christ to go forward to save lives from Satan, sin, and death. It is a war, and the church needs men with the calling and the guts to fight it.
Our infinite thanks to all the men and women who have served our country in the armed forces, today and every day.