In 1988 I learned a valuable lesson about responsibility when I assumed command of an Army unit for the first time. I was a young Captain when I took over command of a sixty man unit with $800,000 worth of property. Becoming the commander means you are responsible for everything your unit does or fails to do and you PERSONALLY are held responsible for the actions of your unit. Commanders are granted a great deal of authority to manage the resources of their unit, but along with that authority comes the responsibility to be accountable for all the people and the property in the unit. However, a commander’s job is not just to maintain accountability of the resources (people and property), but to IMPROVE them through training, maintenance, and skillful application so that the unit adds more value to the Army. The Army holds commanders to a high standard and expects them to succeed. Commanders are rewarded or penalized based on their actions as leaders and managers of the resources provided them. For most officers, their career hangs in the balance of how well they perform in command.
The Army places a great deal of trust in commanders to skillfully manage resources so that the Army mission can be achieved and the value of the unit will be constantly increasing as it becomes more capable and efficient in its tasks. Command is a sacred trust placed only in those who are deemed worthy of such responsibility. All commanders have three things in common:
- A Significant amount of authority and responsibility for the resources of their unit.
- They all serve another master. Regardless of the level of command, every commander is a servant who must answer to someone else who has greater authority.
- A commander personally OWNS NOTHING in his unit. He is managing resources provided to him by the Army.
It has been nearly thirty years since I assumed command for the first time and I am still struck by the similarities between being a commander and being a servant of Jesus Christ. In the Parable of the Talentsin Matthew 25, we see the Master entrusting three of his servants with resources to manage to increase the Master’s wealth. Each servant is given resources in line with his capabilities, much like the levels of command within the Army. ALL of the resources belong to the Master – not to the servant. Each servant is charged with enhancing the Master’s wealth by shrewd management of the resources and each servant is rewarded or judged based on his actions. The parallels between command and servanthood are clear, however there is one important difference. In command there is a set duration of time for which the commander serves, usually between one and three years. A servant of Christ must serve for an unknown period of time – either until the servant dies or Christ returns.
I was privileged to command in the Army on three separate occasions and I can attest to the challenges and difficulties faced by commanders. However, I can also definitively say that it takes far more faith to commit to being a servant of Christ than it does to serve the Army as a commander. Christian servants are entrusted with the greatest responsibility on earth – the spreading of the Gospel and the glorification of the Kingdom of God. There simply is no higher calling. The work is full of challenges and requires all of our resources to accomplish, but the reward is unparalleled and eternal. God has endowed each and every believer with talents and resources to be used for the glory of His Kingdom – we are ALL His servants. The question I would ask you to ponder is “How trustworthy am I being with what God has given me to use?”
-Pastor Dave Jones