And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. NLT – Romans 5:5
For a while, I considered being a teacher, but instead joined the Army. They guaranteed me the rank of E-4, a Chaplain Assistant M.O.S., $30,000 to pay for seminary, and stationed over seas. I entered the Army on July 31, 2002, just a few months after my 29th birthday. I did not leave Fort Jackson, SC until December 4, 2002. I spent my Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training (A.I.T.) there. Since I was older, I was an easy target for leadership positions. However, the toughest leadership position I was assigned to take happened in A.I.T.
On the first day there, Drill Sergeant Glover needed to pick someone to be the Student First Sergeant. I didn’t want to be picked, but as it happened, I was called out of the group to fill this position. I was given the freedom to speak. I was asked if I would accept it and I told her “No.” She asked, “Why.” I proceeded to tell her that I had trouble marching and leading others marching. She smiled and asked, “Is that it?” I said, “Yes.” She told me that she would teach me how to do everything if I would fill that position. I agreed and that put me the top ranking student position. It was much like what I had experienced as the president of the student body. I felt confident in leadership, but completely uncomfortable leading the Army way. As much as I tried, I was never removed from it.I spent the entire 8 weeks in that role. It forced me to adapt and deal with anything that would come my way. It forced me to find an inner confidence in order to survive. Probably, the most life-changing event took place about a month into the training.
One morning after accountability, I was to proceed with an “About Face” and command the soldiers to march out. I paused for a moment and I experienced both drill sergeants yelling at the top of their lungs, “Drop” that meant I dropped to ground and stayed in a Front Lean Rest Position. Basically, the position one would start doing push-ups in. There was no place to hide from the embarrassment as I faced all of the soldiers in front of me. I was told to start pushing, which meant start doing push-ups with everyone watching. It was the Army’s way of enforcing discipline. That meant I made the mistake of pausing too long before giving the command and in doing so I would be made an example of. As I came up to start my second push-up I heard one of my squad leaders yell to everyone, “Drop” and all 3 companies proceeded to do push-ups with me. Even though I had to endure the punishment, I could not believe what I was witnessing. From that point, I realized every soldier respected me in my position and that I needed the self-confidence to be the best soldier I could be. I decided to learn the commands without hesitation and accept my leadership position.
Don’t give up even if you are responsible for the situation you are in. There is always hope in your heart. Can you see light at the end of the tunnel you are currently in?