Service Before Self - The Warrior's Journey®
Lack of Identity

Service Before Self

U.S. Naval Academy plebes navigate an obstacle course during Sea Trials, the capstone training exercise for freshmen. Photo by Official U.S. Navy Page is licensed under CC By 2.0

If you could have any wish granted, what would you ask for?

Solomon asked God for the tools he needed to do the job God had given him. God replied that since he hadn’t been self-seeking, He was going to give him all he asked for and more. By putting his duty before personal advancement, Solomon gained the tools to do the work, as well as the rewards for doing good work. Solomon is a perfect example of someone who puts service before self.

But let’s face it: the military system provides major challenges for putting service before oneself. Consider promotion. In the “up or out” system of the modern military, promotions determine how long we’ll be able to pursue a military career—so they are important. Promotions, in turn, are decided largely from evaluation reports. So given the importance of evaluation reports to our career, how much should we be involved in writing our own evaluation? Should we advocate for a strong rating or seek a recommendation for a particular job? Should we take action to correct a perceived injustice?

In each of these cases, our motivations are the key. If we truly want to serve the Lord and our country to the utmost of our ability, these right motives will help us from going too far astray. If, instead, we are motivated by dreams of glory, our ego, or even the next paycheck, our actions will reflect less noble desires and may not always be ethical.

Proverbs 22:4 reminds that “by humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life.” Proverbs 21:21 adds, “He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness, and honor” (NKJV). If our hearts are in the right place, other things will fall into their proper place.

So what comes first with you—service or self? We can all recite the creeds that talk about service before self, but what’s the reality in your heart? Ask God for the tools to do the work He’s given you, and trust Him to bless you for doing good work. If we selflessly seek the higher good and seek to obey God, He will graciously grant us blessings in return.

“At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, ‘Ask! What shall I give you?’ And Solomon said: You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours? The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. Then God said to him: Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days” (1 Kings 3:5-14, NKJV).


The content of this article comes from “The Warrior’s Bible” (2014) and is copyrighted by Life Publishers International. Used with permission.

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