A welcome sign at Fort Richardson reads, “U.S. Army Alaska, Privileged to Serve.” Like many old Soldiers, I understand what a privilege it is to serve in our Country’s Armed Forces. While there are certainly times of hardship, suffering, and loss, there is also an incredible sense of honor, camaraderie and accomplishment associated with being a member of our Country’s military. The privilege Soldiers feel is based upon the fact that we belong to a values-based organization which expects our very best and holds each member accountable to the standard. It is also an organization which subjugates the importance of individuals and promotes the importance of the organization. It is the duty of each individual Soldier to carry out his orders to the best of his abilities. Good Soldiers (Sailors, Airmen, and Marines) are devoted to the Military and perform their duties with a glad heart because they know the cause for which they serve is a just one.
Yesterday, the President of the United States awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to a Navy SEAL, Senior Chief Edward Byers, for heroic action in a hostage rescue in Afghanistan. Chief Byers neutralized two enemy guards and threw himself on top of the hostage to protect him from gunfire. The Chief then extricated a wounded SEAL team member and performed CPR on him for over a half hour trying to save his life. In his comments at the award ceremony, the Chief spoke only of the heroic actions of his deceased brother-in-arms and the valiant efforts of the other team members. Byers shunned the spotlight and deflected glory back on the organization, essentially saying, “I was only doing my duty.”
While Chief Byers has been hailed by the country as a “hero,” his focus was not on self-glorification nor on seeking gratitude. He believes he simply did his duty and served when called. In Luke 17:7-10, Jesus told the parable of how a servant should do his duty without expecting any gratitude or special consideration from his master. As Paul reminds us in Romans 1:1, all Christians are servants of Jesus Christ and subject to His commands. It is our duty to serve our Master whenever and wherever He calls. Just as Chief Byers did not allow his personal safety or comfort to interfere with his duty, Christians should not allow the comforts and conveniences of this world to divert us from doing our duty as directed by our Master. Just as Chief Byers never sought recognition or accolades for performing his duties, Christians should not work for recognition but rather out of a sense of duty and deep love and devotion to our Master. Just as Chief Byers praised the work and sacrifices of his fellow servants, Christians should encourage one another in the service to our Master (Hebrews 3:13).
I encourage you to ponder what our world would be like if all Christ-followers adopted this attitude of Selfless Service. Put your faith in the Lamb that is Worthy and live a life of Service instead of Serve-us.
-Pastor Dave Jones