Thursday, December 31, 2009

To Blog or Not to Blog?

So, that's the question. Already the blog has some critics and I've received a bit of "heat." The issue is being an active duty officer while advocating some controversial beliefs (as if just being Christian isn't enough). So, a little over three weeks writing now and with nearly 1400 hits, I'm not sure what to do. There seems to be some interest and desire for someone to be talking (on the internet) about how to lead as a Christian in the military. I haven't seen anyone else writing about this kind of stuff that is currently serving. There may be some retired folks involved in military ministries writing about these important areas - but, they're safe. There is an inherent danger anytime you put yourself out there and let people know what's going on in your mind. I'm not risk adverse, but I want to be smart about this. I do write anonymously to create some shroud of safety, but that can only last so long. Enough research will ensure people know that I am the author of this site. Religion, particularly in the military, lights a fire like few things can. So, I'm asking for a simple vote. If you read this blog, benefit from it, and think it should stay up let me know and tell me why.

Be Action Oriented

"You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did." (Ja. 2:22)

Be action oriented! This forum is a place for the “meeting of the minds” to occur, believing that “ideas have consequences.” The aspiration is that whatever transformation is incubated in the brain will seep down to the leader’s heart and eventually flow to the fingers and the feet in functional leadership. What this blog is not meant to be is a place to spin the newest fads on leadership that never actually impact anyone (leaders or follower). Philosophy that is not functional should be forgotten. Christian leaders are ultimately concerned about action; a life (which is to say a livelihood) that glorifies the God that gave it.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2 Highlights

A couple of sites to pass along in case you miss them in the sidebar:

Fixed Point & Seeking 7: This type of ministry/conference is what I am passionate about (but, oriented and focused on the military context). This blog is my attempt at being part of equipping military believers for bold Christian leadership where they serve. To that end, I believe that equipping the organization's leadership is the most effective way to impact the military culture they operate in and induce transformation in the hearts of the people that comprise the military society they guide. Here is what they say they are about, "Seeking 7 is an initiative to mobilize a generation of Christians with the requisite boldness to proclaim and defend the Gospel in an increasingly hostile world." I want to be part of something like that!

Magnify the Cross in the Military: Isn't this what it is all about? I am in the process of drafting a post that describes Christian counseling as leadership. Counseling and leadership are synonymous for the military leader - Biblical counseling and godly leadership are synonymous for the Christian military leader. Here is an excerpt from the link: "teaching them how to emphasize the supremacy of Christ and his cross in counseling troops. Even though he is specifically speaking about the military chaplain, these are truths that all believers are called to live out."

Comms 101

"The tongue has the power of life and death,and those who love it will eat its fruit." (Prv. 18:21)

Communication requires both a transmitter and a receiver; should the transmitter be communicating on the wrong channel or at the wrong frequency the receiver will not hear the message. Likewise, failure to communicate creatively or in a way that is relevant to the target audience will result in the message not being received. Effective communication must facilitate collaboration which enriches the conversation.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Words Matter

"Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." (Prv. 12:18)

We probably learn best when we fail. During my initial sea tours I made countless leadership mistakes. Shore duty afforded me the opportunity to reflect on them and consider how I can change to be better for my Sailors as a DH. Those who have stood the watch before us should share their experiences to improve the performance of their reliefs. None of us perform flawlessly (in spite of what our FITREP/award says); we all have fallen short in how we care for the people that have been entrusted to us. I certainly have - more than I wish to remember. I hope that when I share it edifies those who read and I encourage others with their own leadership experience to impart their wisdom as well.

I learned that my words matter early in my second Divo tour. Prior to this I thought that I could "joke" and say nearly whatever I thought without any thought. I learned this lesson the hard way on one particularly long day when everything seemed to be going wrong - gear was breaking repeatedly, and all of our work-arounds were ineffective. The crew was small (~40) and one of my First Class Petty Officers was really carrying the load (he always did as the #1 E-6 onboard). You would have to know this guy - big (6'4'', 250lbs), tough, and with considerable experience (~18 yrs of service). I was standing on the fantail, late in the evening, with my Senior Chief and one of my Divos. The First Class comes up, sweaty and greasy, to tell Senior that things just weren't going as planned and repairs were going to take longer than expected. In my arrogance, I made an off-hand comment, joking to the effect that if he could do more than one thing at a time it wouldn't have been a problem. It was the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back" at that point in his day. He had put out max effort and to have me say that nearly brought him to tears (rather in anger or just exhaustion). I'll never forget the look on his face. It's hard to believe that as a 25 year old LTJG my thoughts/words could have such an impact on a guy like him, but it did. He left quickly so nobody would see him. I'll also never forget Senior Chief's face as he told me how inappropriate my comment was. Our words reveal our thoughts. To the First Class, as his boss (I write his eval), I communicated that I thought his performance was sub-standard. Of course, it hadn't been but he will never know that. I missed the opportunity to encourage him and tell him how much I appreciated his efforts and the efforts of those he lead. Not to mention, I also set a bad example for the Ensign that was there. Of even more significance I sinned - displeasing and poorly representing Christ. I learned when you are in a position of authority your words matter immensely. They can pierce or they can heal - we must communicate carefully.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Why Blog? (pt. 1)

I want to talk a bit about some of the reasons this blog exists over the next couple of days. I believe that it is critical that we, as military leaders, are intentional about the way we lead - which is to say that we are intentionally biblical. Biblical, God-glorifying, Christ-like, redemptive leadership does not and will not happen on accident. We cannot be passive, but must actively engage our minds in the process of purposely leading to fulfill our potential in Christ.

As we unite to dialogue on the integration of our faith in Christ and our profession in arms the hope is that individual leaders will be redeemed; redeem the leadership and change the culture; change the culture and entire organizations will be impacted (think of the emanating effect of rain drops hitting a pond). My prayer is that we, a struggling and broken band of leaders, will lay hold of the Gospel (the power for change), learning to live it in such a way as to see the spheres in which God has appointed us be radically redeemed. May we be Anchored Leaders and glorify Jesus, the true embodiment of all we seek to be, while hearing Him exclaim the same words spoken to the military leader in the Gospels saying, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone . . . with such great faith” (Matt. 8: 10).

Our goal should be to: Lead to Redeem!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Resurgence Military Ministry

"When you are a starving man among starving people and you discover a banquet in the wilderness, you become a debtor to all." (John Piper, Desiring God)

I'm a big fan of the things happening at TheResurgence, specifically in their military ministry. Al Lobian and his team have a real heart for those serving and are doing the Lord's work in ministering in real ways to us. Below is a sampling of some of what they are doing:

- Mars Hill Military Mission
- Jesus At War
- Missional Militia: Work
- Porn and 24
- Bio of a Christian Soldier 1
- Bio of a Christian Soldier 2

This is a good time to plug the book "Porn Again Christian." Download it, it's free. The last section of the book is almost entirely written specifically for military members. I'll talk more about this topic, but suffice it to say - if you are a guy and in the military this has been or inevitably will be a problem area for you. You can't lead effectively if bounded and hampered by this area of sin. Read this book! It's short, poignant, and redemptive. 'Nuff said.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Leadership Failures of JPJ (& Me)

Here's a good "naval" leadership post from John Maxwell. In it he uses John Paul Jones as the type of leader not to be. He asserts that while he may have been successful in execution of his mission he was careless with people, using them simply to accomplish his agenda in pursuit of his own glory. This is an all too familiar story with many great leaders and the Navy is not immune from them. Most interestingly sad to me is the fact that JPJ never learned, never changed. He was content to continue in his relational recklessness until the day of his early death.

Yet, this is the man that wrote the famously memorized "Qualifications of a Naval Officer." How could this be that he would expound on the necessity of an Officer to be "the soul of tact, patience, justice and firmness" while committing the atrocious, recorded (not to mention the lesser offenses never reported), and nearly incomprehensible acts toward those entrusted to his care? I'm not sure - but, it caused me to wonder if I regularly mentally ascent to virtuous Christian behaviors while functionally forgetting what I previously preached? The short answer is yes and frequently. JPJ and I have much in common. Like, JPJ I remain a sinner in need of a Savior. Only the Redeemer is able to regulate and rectify my sinful brain-heart disconnect in my relationships. Leadership defined is influence in the context of relationship. To be a great leader for Christ you must be great in relationships because of Christ.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Lk. 2: 1-21

Remember those standing the watch today in your prayers.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Anti-Psalm 131

I am able to identify particularly with the post below from Justin Taylor's blog:

The Anti-Psalm 131 vs. the Real Psalm 131

I’m grateful that CCEF is periodically posting great meditations from David Powlison. The latest is on Psalm 131, entitled “Peace, Be Still”: Learning Psalm 131 by Heart. Powlison argues that “Psalm 131 is show-and-tell for how to become peaceful inside.”

One of the things that Powlison likes to do is to contrast a biblical God-centered worldview with a functional godless universe; he does so by composing “anti-Psalms” that show the opposite of the life of the faith.

Here’s Anti-Psalm 131:


my heart is proud (I’m absorbed in myself),
and my eyes are haughty (I look down on other people),
and I chase after things too great and too difficult for me.

So of course I’m noisy and restless inside, it comes naturally,

like a hungry infant fussing on his mother’s lap,
like a hungry infant, I’m restless with my demands and worries.
I scatter my hopes onto anything and everybody all the time.

Contrast that with the real Psalm 131:

O Lord,

my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,

like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Do Not Be Surprised

"1Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin . . . 4With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you . . . 12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 16Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name." (1st Pet. 4: 1, 4, 12-14, 16)

Armed with Christ-like thinking, determined to endure the denial of fleshly desires, we can cease from sin. Expect others to take note and antagonize you (possibly behind your back) in spiteful consternation. A firey trial will ensue, but clothe yourself (Rom. 13:14) with Christ like the ultimate Fire Fighting Ensemble. Anticipate the fire fight. Every Christian Sailor a fire fighter! Do it with joy knowing that your are united with Jesus, because He did the same thing. The ultimate hypothesis - if insulted, then blessed. No shame, instead glory to the Name.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Jah Puts His Soldiers Everywhere

Thought this was worth sharing. Consider the wisdom, the humility, and the true worship. From loswhit, "If you listen carefully at the end you hear Carlos saying this to Danny (the homeless worshipper). Here is what Carlos said, “Keep trying to make it man.” Danny looked me square in the eye…cocked his head sideways with a confused look on his face…and said, “Trying to make it? No man. I ain’t trying to make it…I’m making it. Jah puts His soldiers everywhere. Jah says, Yea though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death… So He places some of us, in that valley.”

Game, set, match…

Save us from these comforts.
Break us of our need for the familiar
Spare us any joy that’s not of You
And we will worship You

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Career Advice from Ecclesiastes (pt. 3)

Scripture tells us that our lives are but a vapor - like the sea mist you observe as you pilot the channel outbound for sea in the early morning. In our arrogance we make many plans accompanied by many words with little fear or recognition of the Sovereign God who pilots our lives in this perishing world. Hold it all loosely, like sand in your hand. If you cup it gently so that God can give and take away in His wisdom you preserve it. Grasp tightly in selfish ambition or fear and little will remain. Rest in the sovereignty of God - be at ease in God Himself.

". . . To draw near to listen is better . . . for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. 3For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words. 7For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity;but God is the one you must fear." (Ecc. 5:1, 3, 7)

"13Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." 16As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." (Ja. 4:13-17)

Career Advice from Ecclesiastes (pt. 2)

"9 What does the worker gain from his toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him. 15 Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account." (Ecc. 3:9-15)

What gain is our work onboard? Is it a burden? We are unable to fully imagine the beauty that is unfolding as we participate in the work of God. Joyful goodness is the burdened call of our business. Find fulfillment in the gift that God has given you. And the strain is diminished as we realize out inability to add or take away anything of significance from the enduring work of God. So, He is at work . . . to produce reverence in our souls. Joyful exertion, ethical in obedient living, satisfied in His sovereignty, we worship as we work.

The 4 C's of Leadership

From Regent University's Inner Resources:

Dr. Winton writes a very thought provoking article. Here are a few highlights worth pondering, he writes there are 4 essential aspects of leadership:

- Calling (doing what God wants you to)
- Competence (being good at what you do)
- Confidence (knowing what you can accomplish in the context)
- Character (“good” traits)

The point of contention is that he asserts that character is the least important of the four pillars of leadership (note: he is the Dean of the school of leadership at a Christian university). "The paper draws from both Old Testament and New Testament examples of success based on each of the four Cs. The premise of the paper is that with each successful level of the four Cs, greater success happens. An organization’s leadership development program may be informed by this paper in that developing-leaders should first be filtered/selected by their sense of calling, followed then by education and training to increase their competence. Then, developing leaders can receive counseling and education to increase their confidence and finally, developing leaders can be coached, measured, critiqued, and developed in character traits." I'd enjoy hearing your thoughts - he sure does make a Biblical case for his submission.

Read the full paper here:
The Four C's of Christian Leadership

Friday, December 18, 2009

True Success

This is from TED (if you are unfamiliar with TED check it out). Aside from that, Coach Wooden offers some sound wisdom on how to define success. Remember all truth is God's truth. It's all around us - we must have ears to hear and eyes to see it (Matt. 13:16). How do you define success? What did success look like when you achieved it in the past? What would the ultimate success look like if achieved? Add a comment and talk it up.

The Modern Roman Road

The current issue of Covenant magazine had an interesting article. Dr. Chapell wrote:

"First-century Christians had a temendous challenge before them as they attempted to respond to Jesus' Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). Taking the gospel from Jerusalem to all nations would have seemed a daunting task for this small group of ragtag disciples. And yet the Lord provided both the means (in the form of an extensive system of Roman roads that made travel throughout the empire easy and safe) and the power (in the form of his indwelling Spirit) for them to do as he commanded. The result was an amazing transformation not only of many individual lives but of the world as well."

It's interesting how the Lord uses the developments of advanced civilizations to spread the gospel. I believe that the internet is the modern Roman Road. Taking the gospel to all of the military society seems a daunting task for this ragtag disciple. Yet, we serve the Lord who is more than able. He has a vested interest in seeing the Name of His Son disperse and be glorified. I believe that through the use of the modern Roman Road (such as this blog) an amazing transformation not only of many individual lives, but of the entire military society will result. In the coming days I am going to talk more about the use of this blog and other social network technology to induce change in the minds of leaders that will result in the exponential effect of transformation in the spheres they influence. If you are such a leader interested in seeing your area of responsibility be impacted for Christ hit this site daily and tell others about it. Quantity can have a quality all its own ;-)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Making Men-Catchers

The following post is adapted from The Resurgence that is adapted from Charles Spurgeon's sermon notes, which are in the public domain.

Matthew 4:19: And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."

Our desire should be to be men-catchers as we lead; and the way to attain to that sacred art is to be ourselves thoroughly captured by the greatest Leader and the One who has captured us. When Jesus draws us we shall draw men. The man who leads souls is like a fisher upon the sea. A fisher is dependent and trustful. He is diligent and persevering. He is intelligent and watchful. He is laborious and self-denying. He is daring, and is not afraid to venture upon a dangerous sea. He is successful. He is no leader who never leads anyone. See the ordination of successful leaders. They are made, not born; made by God, and not by mere human training. See how we can partake in the Lord's work, and be specimens of his workmanship: "Follow me, and I will make you."

P.S. Scroll over any verse citation on this site and the full Bible verse referenced will pop up (I've added "reftagger"). Here's an example: Josh. 1:6-9

Standards Through Sincerity

From "Cut of His Jib:"

"Unless and until officers conduct themselves at all times as officers, it is useless to demand and hopeless to expect any improvement in the enlisted ranks. Matters of correct attitude, personal conduct, and awareness of moral obligations do not lend themselves to control by a set of rules or to scientific analysis...Many methods of instruction and different approaches to teaching them will present themselves. Each naval officer must consider himself an instructor in these matters and the future tone of the naval service will depend on the sincerity which he brings to this task."

Admiral T. C. Kinkaid
United States Navy

Ensign 101

A good read worth passing on.

Ensign 101

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Two Absolutes

As a Naval Officer and Christian it does not get anymore foundational than these absolutes:

"There are only two absolute rules of thumb at sea: Don’t let the people in the water tank, and don’t let the water in the people tank." [unknown Sailor]

"All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments: love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself." [Jesus]

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Faithful Centurion

The Faithful Centurion

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering."

Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him."

The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof [humble]. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." [understand authority]

When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! It will be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that very hour.

May we lead humbly, fully understanding the authority structure we are placed, while boldly making our requests made known to the God who is more than able - and so doing astonish the Lord with our great faith, such that He acts to bless those under our care.

Leadership Translation Practical

From The Resurgence: 5 Hard Truths

As you read it do the mental translation of how it applies to leading in the military context. Note the extent of similarities - seems leaders of ministry do/experience many of the same things that we all do.

Practice continuous translation of material for application as a leader in what you are doing. Leadership "nuggets" surround us.

Being A Great Division Officer (Part 8)

Last post in a series on leading at the Divo level

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed" (2 Tim. 2:15)

Remember these two words and you will succeed as a Division Officer: humility and service. You are at the entry point of a demanding profession that requires a sense of humility as you learn from all ranks and all types of people - soak it in. You are in a position to serve (not be served). As a leader you do not have the luxury to accomplish your agenda - it is not all about you. Just like a Doctor during residency you are earning your way into a profession that requires much from you. I challenge you to work hard - earn it! Possess a fierce and unrelenting work ethic. Work everyday as one unworthy, striving to legitimately earn the privilege of leading Sailors and being counted amongst the leaders aboard a U.S. Navy warship.

The Divo verse: "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (1 Cor. 15:58)

Being a Great Division Officer (Part 7)

“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (1 Cor. 4:2)

- Make decisions and hold others accountable. You have the same Commission as a Naval Officer as the CO and are expected to be a steward of this ship’s people and equipment.
- Work to earn trust and autonomy. Great work creates trust. Trust creates autonomy. Autonomy allows for ownership of your schedule.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


“It’s only a football game. They’re all heroes.”
– Coach Niumatalolo after winning the Army Navy game, 12 DEC 09.

[per-spek-tiv]: the faculty of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship.

Leaders must have the ability to appropriately frame all the information received and perceive it in such a way as to distinguish the relative priority of importance.

Now that the game is over - cheer on our Army team mates as they continue to do the hard work of the nation on the ground. Go Army! Beat the enemy!

Great perspective Mr. Dobbs:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Go Navy! Beat Army!

Gone to Philly to cheer on Navy!

I would like to thank everyone that has read/continues to read the blog - over 350 hits in the first 5 days! I'll be writing again Sunday afternoon - hope to see you then.

Go Navy! Beat Army!

Carrying Stones

I read this excerpt from Keller's "The Prodigal God" attributed to Elizabeth Elliot (the story is apocryphal and not found in the Bible).

I felt convicted and driven to prayer.

"One day Jesus said to his disciples: "I'd like you to carry a stone for Me." He didn't give any explanation. So the disciples looked around for a stone to carry, and Peter, being the practical sort, sought out the smallest stone he could possibly find. After all, Jesus didn't give any regulations for weights and size! So he put it in his pocket. Jesus then said: "Follow me." He led them on a journey. About noontime Jesus had everyone sit down. He waved his hands and all the stones turned to bread. He said, "Now it's time for lunch." In a few seconds, Peter's lunch was over. When lunch was done Jesus told them to stand up. He said again, "I'd like you to carry a stone for Me." This time Peter said, "Aha! Now I get it!" So he looked around and saw a small boulder. He hoisted it on his back and it was painful, it made him stagger. But he said, "I can't wait for supper." Jesus then said: "Follow Me." He led them on a journey, with Peter barely being able to keep up. Around supper time Jesus led them to the side of a river. He said, "Now everyone throw your stones into the water." They did. The he said, "Follow Me," and began to walk. Peter and the others looked at hi dumbfounded. Jesus sighed and said, "Don't you remember what I asked you to do? Who were you carrying the stone for?"

So, I wonder, today, who do I carry this stone for? How about in my career?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fraternization = Failed Leadership

"For God shows no partiality [undue favor or unfairness; with Him one man is not different from another]." (Rom. 2:11)

Navy Times article on USS James E. Williams fraternization

"Such a large number of fraternization cases in one command is a clear indication of a leadership failure," stated Adm. J. C. Harvey, Jr., commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. "This leadership failure fostered a command climate that allowed the fraternization to occur. The responsibility of the commanding officer for his or her command is absolute. It is our tradition that with responsibility goes authority and with them both goes accountability. This accountability is not for the intentions, but for the deed. Nobody trusts or has confidence in leaders who believe they cannot be held accountable for what they do. And when confidence and trust are lost in those who lead, we fail. The James E. Williams' commanding officer and command master chief are being held accountable for the fraternization that occurred on their watch."

What are your thoughts on frat? What would you have done different (depending on what level of leadership you are at)? Are many of the tenants of Christ-like leadership counter to military anti-frat policy? Is there an increased risk/danger for the Christian leader to fraternize? I hope to hear from you.

Prodded By Purpose

"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself." Acts 20:24

It is easier to serve God without a vision, easier to work for God without a call, because then you are not bothered by what God requires; common sense is your guide, veneered over with Christian sentiment. You will be more prosperous and successful, more leisure-hearted, if you never realize the call of God. But if once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God wants will always come like a goad; you will no longer be able to work for Him on the common-sense basis.

What do I really count dear? If I have not been gripped by Jesus Christ, I will count service dear, time given to God dear, my life dear unto myself. Paul says he counted his life dear only in order that he might fulfill the ministry he had received; he refused to use his energy for any other thing. Acts 20:24 states Paul's almost sublime annoyance at being asked to consider himself; he was absolutely indifferent to any consideration other than that of fulfilling the ministry he had received. Practical work may be a competitor against abandonment to God, because practical work is based on this argument - Remember how 'useful you are here, or - Think how much value you would be in that particular type of work." That attitude does not put Jesus Christ as the Guide as to where we should go, but our judgment as to where we are of most use. Never consider whether you are of use; but ever consider that you are not your own but His.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Being a Great Division Officer (Part 6)

The goal and intent is to increase in credibility as a professional and a leader. Credibility is the key – there are essentially 4 pillars (4 C’s) to effective/credible leadership as a Naval Officer:

- Competence: Technical & Tactical expertise, operation of your watch station, oversight of maintenance, and qualifications.
- Communication: non-verbal (i.e. military bearing), written (i.e. e-mails, CASREP, messages), verbal, and most importantly listening. Be positive and encouraging almost always! Communicate with your Department Head often. They want to know what is going on with you and your Division.
- Care: care for the ship’s mission, demonstrate it in high quality work (no matter how menial the task seems), possess initiative (have a vision for things that need done, anticipate your boss’s next need), care for your shipmates (influence them for good, ask how they are doing, share information, encourage them), be a role model/mentor for those that may be subordinate to you, and always work as a team - with your fellow DivOs, your Chief, and your Sailors.
- Character: moral judgment (at work and on liberty - you are being watched), in your relationships (boy/girlfriend, spouse, family, friends), finances, and physical fitness.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Vision

The author of this powerful poem is unknown. It was found scribbled on a wall in an abandoned London warehouse where a group of young people had been meeting for countless days, engaged in 24 hour prayer. I first read it in 2001 while at school as a part of a powerful movement of future military leaders engaged in prayer. God moved in mighty ways during that time. I’ve had a copy of it taped in the front cover of my Bible ever since and I cannot read it without feeling revived with passion for the coming Kingdom of God and the pleasure I have for joining Him in His work.


The vision is JESUS – obsessively, dangerously, undeniably Jesus.
The vision is an army of young people.
You see bones? I see an army.
And they are FREE from materialism.
They laugh at 9-5 little prisons.
They could eat caviar on Monday and crusts on Tuesday.
They wouldn’t even notice.
They know the meaning of the Matrix, the ay the West was won.
They are mobile like the wind, they belong to the nations.
They need no passport.
People write their addresses in pencil and wonder at their strange existence.
They are free yet they are slaves of the hurting and the dying.

What is the vision?
The vision is holiness that hurts the eyes.
It makes children laugh and adults angry.
It gave up the game of minimum integrity long ago to reach for the stars.
It scorns the good and strains for the best.
It is dangerously pure.
Light flickers from every secret motive, every private conversation.
It loves people away from their suicide leaps, their Satan games.
This is an army that will lay down its life for the cause.
A million times a day its soldiers choose to lose that they might one day win the great “Well done”
Of faithful sons and daughters.
Such heroes are as radical on Monday morning as Sunday night.
They don’t need fame from names.
Instead they grin quietly upwards and hear the crowds chanting again and again: “COME ON!”

And this is the sound of the underground
The whisper of history in the making
Foundations shaking
Revolutionaries dreaming once again
Mystery is scheming in whispers
Conspiracy is breathing. . . . . . . . .

And the army is discipl[in]ed.
Young people who beat their bodies into submission.
Every soldier would take a bullet for his comrade at arms.
The tattoo on their back boasts “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Sacrifice fuels the fire of victory in their upward eyes
Winners. Martyrs. Who can stop them?
Can hormones hold them back?
Can failure succeed?
Can fear scare them or death kill them?
And the generation prays like a dying man with groans beyond talking,
With warrior cries, sulfuric tears and with great barrow loads of laughter!

Waiting: 24 – 7 – 365.
Whatever it takes they will give: Breaking the rules.
Shaking mediocrity from its cozy little hide.
Laying down their rights and their precious little wrongs, laughing at labels, fasting essentials.
The advertisers cannot mold them.
Hollywood cannot hold them.
Peer-pressure is powerless to shake their resolve at late night parties before the cockerel cries.
They are incredibly cool, dangerously attractive inside.
On the outside? They hardly care.
They wear clothes like costumes to communicate and celebrate but never to hide.
Would they surrender their image or their popularity?
They would lay down their very lives – swap seat with the man on death row – guilty as hell.
A throne for an electric chair.

With blood and sweat and many tears, with sleepless nights and fruitless days,
The pray as if it all depends on God and live as if it all depends on them.
Their DNA chooses JESUS.
(He breathes out, they breathe in.)
Their subconscious sings.
They had a blood transfusion with Jesus.
Their words make demons scream in shopping centers.
Don’t hear them coming?
Herald the weirdos!
Summon the losers and freaks.
Here comes the frightened and forgotten with fire in their eyes.
They walk tall and trees applaud, skyscrapers bow, mountains are dwarfed
By these children of another dimension.
Their prayers summon the hounds of heaven and invoke the ancient dreams of Eden.

And this vision will be.
It will come to pass; it will come easily; it will come soon.
How do I know?
Because this is the longing of creation itself, the groaning of the Spirit, the very dream of God.
My tomorrow is His today.
My distant hope is His 3D.
And my feeble, whispered, faithless prayer invokes a
Thunderous, resounding, bone-shaking great “Amen!” from countless angels, from heroes of the faith, from Christ Himself.
And He is the original dreamer, the ultimate winner.

Being a Great Division Officer (Part 5)

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Eph. 4:2)
“Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” (Jn. 4:38)

- Be patient. With people and the accomplishment of your personal agenda.
- Think the best of others. Sailors will rarely disappoint; they will almost always exceed expectations. Look for excuses to reward them.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pearl Harbor Day

Stop and consider . . . then give thanks and strengthen your resolve in light of our generations "Pearl Harbor."

Being a Great Division Officer (Part 4)

"But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love . . ." (2 Cor. 8:7)

This is part 4 of a series intended to equip tactical level leaders for excellence upon appointment to their position of responsibility.

- Be knowledgeable. Know your people holistically – who they are on and off the ship. Know who and what is important to them and then remember to talk to them about those things. Assess your people and know their strengths and weaknesses in order to employ them effectively. Know your equipment and programs. Know 3-M, OMMS-NG, DC and every critical program you are responsible for. Be the subject matter expert.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Reflecting the Light in a Dark Place

"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life . . ." (Phil. 2:12-16)

Below is an e-mail I sent to a fellow Naval Officer struggling with the inconsistencies found in his Command leadership and Wardroom preaching "professionalism" while being anything but while on liberty. Raises a significant and important question on how to influence a group (Biblically) when you are in no position to do so.

hey brother-

congrats on the shellbacking - good times! sounds like you are getting saltier by the day ;-) enjoy it because i guarantee you'll miss it some day. so, are you looking to board for the coveted eoow letter prior to returning home? are you going to complete the entire cruise or are they flying you back early? have your orders come through yet?

as for my two cents. it is always helpful when assessing a problem to really define it and then determine the things that you are able to influence and those things that are just outside your control. so, what's the real problem? is it the hypocrisy - the difference between what they say and what they do? if so, i've gotta say - hypocrisy is the norm with people, and i mean all people - you, me, christians, non-believes, etc. i suspect what's really bothering you is the sin of others, but not just their unabashed sinfulness - instead their sin in the face of their apparent knowledge of a more righteous (they call it "professional") way. it's as if they know better (because they speak as if they do), but then they act entirely counter to their proclamations. i can tell you - what always has broken my heart with regard to others, but even more so with myself, is not just hypocrisy, but the actual sins being committed. the leaders of your ship are sinners, but (most of
them) are not redeemed sinners. are you expecting holy spirit behavior from people that don't have the holy spirit?

so, what? what do you do - that's the question. i would suggest that you view your ship much like [our mentors that are becoming missionaries] are viewing japan or the missionaries of old viewed east swaziland or some other "barbarian" land. it's a mission field - and yours is an area that may be more difficult than even the tribes of the amazon. ok, where do you start? pray, right? pray - specifically for individuals - plead the scriptures over people by name (His Word does not return void (is. 55:11)). ask crazy things - our God is big and actually does some pretty crazy things. the next thing to do is shine. you know "let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (matt 5:16). you've heard it said before - you may be all the Bible these folks will ever see, certainly in any given day. so, encourage them, serve them, possibly even be so bold as to love them. lastly, pray again. this time pray for the peace of God to reign in your heart toward this wayward people. realize your desperate need for the Gospel and how you too would be indulging in the debauchery that sickens you if not for the grace that has been lavished upon you. consider how far you are from being Jesus - compared to him you are the hypocrite, yet he loves you anyways. he sees all of your hypocrisy and gently and genuinely serves, engages, communes, interacts, and helps. this type of self-examination will give you a healthy perspective toward those you mention. brother, you have been loved so that you can love. bear the cross.

forget what they say. for that matter forget what they do. see their hearts. they are dark. but, you have the Light that overcomes the darkness (1 jn. 2:7-9). they are terminally ill. but, you know the One who came to heal (Matt. 9: 12). you have to minister the Gospel. you see they love a whole lot of things other than God and this is causing them to do a whole lot of things that fail to honor God. would you be happy if they were perfectly professional, the epitome of a naval officer (JPJ himself), yet they were living for themselves - destined for eternal darkness? being professional means nothing - not to us Christians. being right with Christ - now that has value! when their few years of naval service has come and gone and their insignificant lives have passed (rather 1, 5, or 50 years) there is forever for which their souls will exist. i think at the root of it this may be what is bothering you. sinners on the fast track to hell is disturbing to the desensitized.

the bottom line, brother - you can't do much. but, the good news is you know the One who is more than able. press into Him. if you haven't truly cried out to the Redeemer on behalf of those around you (like a prophet of the OT) then you've done little more than complain. that's not to indict, that's to encourage. KISS: pray, practice, pray. Pray the gospel for others. Practice the gospel to others. Pray the gospel for yourself. Repeat.

that's all i've got. i'll commit to praying for you.

if none of what i wrote helps forget it all and take this advice from Paul (after all he was a sailor for a time): "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love." (1st Cor. 16: 13-14).


Being a Great Division Officer (Part 3)

"Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." (1 Tim. 4:15-16)

"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves." (2 Cor. 13:5)

Part 3 of a series focused on leadership at the divisional level.

- Lead by example. As a Division Officer your ability to lead is predicated on solid and consistent self-leadership. Make sure you are where you are supposed to be, when you are supposed to be there, and you have high standards of personal appearance. Never be late or accept tardiness. Be the example of character and morality on and off the ship.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Being A Great Division Officer (Part 2)

And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? . . . "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" (Rom. 10:14-15)

This is the second in a series on being a great Divo. For the Christian being great as defined by the organization (i.e. the Navy) ensures that we earn the right to be heard. Remember you must be good news to earn the right to tell the Good News.

- Be present. Lead by walking around. The best way to get to know your Sailors and your job is by putting boots on deckplates.

Tiger Hunted by a Lion

"sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you" (Gen. 4:7)

"Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Pet. 5:8)

For the Christian attuned to the media frenzy over Tiger Woods I recommend C.J. Mahaney's post on the subject @

He wrote, "Hunted by Sin: But Tiger is being hunted by something more menacing than journalists. Tiger’s real enemy is his sin, and that’s an enemy much more difficult to discern and one that can’t be managed in our own strength. It’s an enemy that never sleeps."

The Good News is that there is another Lion, the Lion of Judah (Rev. 5:5), that is in pursuit of Tiger and is more than able to redeem him from the sin that destroys and the Enemy that steals!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Humility from Harvard

3 Tips for Demonstrating Humility - HBS

Effective leaders need to be mindful not only of their accomplishments, but of their character as well. Humility is a key aspect of character. Here are three ways to step out of the limelight and let others shine:

1. Temper authority. Don't use authority just because you have it. Encourage your people to make decisions, set their own goals, and take responsibility as often as possible.
2. Promote others often. Grooming talent is good for your organization and for you as a leader. Promote people around you, giving them opportunities to match or even surpass your success.
3. Acknowledge the accomplishments of others. If things go well, give away the credit. If things go poorly, take the fall. This humble approach will ensure your team rallies behind you.

Career Advice from Ecclesiastes (Part 1)

Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz wrote, "I'm still learning every day. I still try to do my best and refuse to worry about things over which I have no control."

This is sound advice with regard to our careers. Yet, the Preacher of the book of Ecclesiastes has much more to say, consider the following:

"I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leaver it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless...For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless. A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?(2: 18-24)"

He says, "for without Him" we are unable to find full satisfaction regardless of our occupation. Can you identify with any part of this passage? Possibly you hate your toil? Perhaps you hate that you work so hard only to turnover with an incompetent person? Do you strive anxiously with a restless mind as you strive after your ambitious agenda? Or maybe you work with and for the One who is able to provide complete joy in the toil He has placed before you? Is it all really meaningless . . .?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Being A Great Division Officer (Part 1)

The first in a series of thoughts on being a great Divo.

Below are a few recommendations for succeeding as a naval leader.

- Be humble. Everything good and beneficial in a leader stems from humility. You are at an early point in your career in which you must be teachable and ever-learning; humility is required.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Station the Anchor Watch!

so, i thought i'd begin a blog. my hope is for it to help me think through the things i'm doing daily in my professional and personal life to ensure they are appropriately oriented toward Christ. of course, i am blogging about my thoughts so that other like-minded individuals can read them and comment. possibly others are leaders in the military and looking for encouragement and a different perspective from a fellow Christian.

as i prepare to return to sea (i am a surface warfare officer) i want to be sure to stay "anchored" in the midst of an environment that is constantly acting on me. metaphorically, this blog is the anchor buoy, i am on the anchor watch, and my hope in Christ is the Anchor keeping me firm and secure. i want to monitor how i tend toward the Anchor to be sure to notice any indications of heavy strain as the environment becomes turbulent to prevent me from dragging anchor.

this will also serve as a journal of shipboard life of a naval officer as well as a place to share and discuss topics of interest to me such as: leadership, being a husband, fatherhood, theology, Scripture, military strategy, and books. this may serve as a sort of "one-stop-shop" for others with similar interest.