He Considered Me Faithful - The Warrior's Journey®

He Considered Me Faithful

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

Face Paint. Photo by The U.S. Army is licensed under CC By 2.0

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 1 Timothy 1:12 (NIV)

U.S. Army Rangers assigned to Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, walk back to the equipment turn-in point on the beach following a helocast insertion at Bellows Air Force Station, Hawaii, Nov. 14, 2018. 25th Infantry Division Lightning Academy waterborne operations, off the coast of Hawaii, offers a unique training environment and partnership opportunity for United States Army Special Operations Forces and the 25th Infantry Division. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Ryan DeBooy)

How do we measure whether or not a leader has been successful?

In the military, there are numerous performance indicators can answer this question. It might be the unit’s performance on inspections or training exercises. In combat it could be the number of enemies killed. Metrics for evaluation can even include the reenlistment rate, signifying that serving under a particular commander was a satisfying experience.

But, this verse suggests another way to measure success. What does God think? How does He gauge your success as a leader? Paul tells Timothy the Lord has found him (Paul) faithful.

Faithful? What does Paul mean? The Bible contains ample information to help us understand faithfulness as success. In the simplest terms, God honors those who seek His will and do their best to obey. As the Old Testament leader, Joshua, was challenging Israel shortly before his death, he says  this: “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:14, NIV).

Faithfulness signifies the idea of obedience, the kind of obedience that endures over a protracted period of time even under the most difficult circumstances. Faithfulness doesn’t necessitate heroism, nor does it require perfection.

So, let’s try to apply this concept of leadership success to service in the military. Most who serve or have served in the military have exercised leadership at some level. Can their leadership be considered successful if they have been faithful in the performance of their duties? We say “yes.”

Spc. Jeremiah Carter, from Mooresville, Ind., with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, conducts a dismounted presence patrol with his unit June 2, 2013 near Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak, Kandahar province, Afghanistan. The unit was patrolling to meet area farmers and project force posture. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann, 102nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

Let us illustrate with a present-day example. You’ve probably never known or even heard of Ralph LeMarr, born December 18,1925, in the Campbell/Sellers Creek community of rural Searcy County, Arkansas.

Life was hard on a small, rocky farm. The local school only went to the eighth grade, and Ralph and his brothers were unable to finish high school because of the distance to travel as well as the need to help with the farm.

When the U.S. entered WWII, Ralph, signed up with the U.S. Marine Corps shortly after his eighteenth birthday. He served in several campaigns in the South Pacific and later joined the occupation force in Japan following the war.

In addition to his military awards and honorable discharge certificate, Ralph received a letter from the White House. Following the expression of thanks for his service in WWII, President Truman issued this challenge: “Because you demonstrated the fortitude, resourcefulness and calm judgment necessary to carry out that task, we now look to you for leadership and example in further exalting our country in peace.”

 Though Ralph never served at high leadership levels, the President of the United States recognized that Ralph’s faithfulness had been important in the military and would be significant in civilian life as well.

Airmen from the 121st Maintenance Group prepare a CFM-56 turbofan engine for shipment April 23, 2019, at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, Ohio. The 121st Air Refueling Wing's KC-135 Stratotankers have four of these engines, each capable of producing 21,634 pounds of thrust. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Ralph Branson)

Leaving the military in 1946, Ralph married Joie Richardson a year later with her condition being that he go to church with her. He did, although he continued to smoke, drink a little, play cards, and call square dances. In 1952, Ralph moved to Kansas, where he used his GI benefits to learn sheet metal assembly and went to work for Boeing.

As the family continued regular church attendance, things finally clicked for Ralph, and he accepted Jesus as Lord in 1956. He immediately gave up drinking, smoking, and other behavior that God convicted him to stop.

Three years later, Joie began experiencing severe headaches and confusion and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She died in 1961, leaving Ralph with a toddler and a teenager. He continued doing what he knew to do, working hard and trusting God. As soon as his medical debt was paid off, Ralph married Joie’s younger sister, Zela. He brought the girls back to Kansas, where he got a job at Beech Aircraft (later Raytheon).

He continued his habits of working hard and saving money, eventually buying a small house where he and Zela lived until his retirement in 1987. He bought a U.S. savings bond every week and always paid cash. In spite of his thrifty ways, Ralph was generous, especially to the work of the Lord.

The 126th Brigade Support Battalion and the Robins Air Force Base Depot team remove a wing from an F-15 Eagle, May 23, 2019, at Barnes Air National Guard Base, Mass. The joint maintenance effort will ensure the 104th Fighter Wing's fully qualified, combat-ready pilots have aircraft available to them. (U.S. National Guard photo by Airman Basic Sara Kolinski)

In the 1970’s Ralph was diagnosed with cervical dystonia, which caused severe pain and a constant pulling of his head to one side. Too young for retirement and unable to establish the problem as service-related, he continued working at Beech until age 62. In spite of the pain, he earned numerous Zero Defects awards and submitted several good designs and ideas for improving the assembly process. Despite his own physical problems, Ralph became burdened for county jail inmates and began taking Christian literature to the jail.

His second wife, Zela, passed away in 2010. Ralph’s life became lonelier as he outlived friends and family. Still faithful in Sunday school and church, he preferred to live alone at home, with church friends stopping by and his daughter, Cynthia, visiting weekly to do housekeeping.

On July 1, 2018, Ralph suffered a light stroke resulting in a fall at his home. After several days in the hospital he entered rehab therapy and continues to make progress.

While only the Lord knows how much longer Ralph will live, it seems fair to say that this little-known military veteran has been successful in God’s sight. He has been faithful. Both in the military and in civilian life, he has done his best to serve God and people.

We are all still writing our story. Will we be remembered as successful? We believe the answer is a resounding “yes!”

https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/44171490420/ (By U.S. Army, Licensed under CC by 2.0)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/8958690771/ (By U.S. Army, Licensed under CC by 2.0)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/usairforce/48000677772/ (By US Air Force, Licensed under CC by NC 2.0)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/usairforce/48000752946/ (By US Air Force, Licensed under CC by NC 2.0)

The content of this Devotional comes from “Daily Strength for the Battle (You, God’s Word, 5 Minutes): Volume 6 Developing the Leader in You” (2020) and is copyrighted by Scott and Judy McChrystal. Used with permission.

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