I'm at an US Army Chaplaincy Annual Sustainment Training right now where almost 200 chaplains are being equipped. It's been a really phenomenal experience being around these men and women.
At one point in the schedule this morning things got quiet, someone called for attention, and Commanding General Francis Wiercinski walked into the room. Though I've obviously never heard of him up till this point, it was pretty amazing to sit and ease drop as this level of leadership in our military shared with the chaplains.
As he spoke it was the only time in the last two days that the room was dead quiet. Partly I'd imagine this was because of his rank but in realty I'd say it was also because his words were really profound. Straight to the point, but empowering. Here are a few things that stuck out to me:
"Treating people with dignity and respect is not a weakness. Some people think you have to be hard and callused to show strength, but that's just wrong."
I gave a quiet "Amen" in the back when he said this. There isn't anyone that we interact with that doesn't deserve respect. Just spoke about this last Sunday at church. It's easy to show love to people we know, but what about waitresses and cab drivers? EVERYONE deserves our respect. Weakness is evident we don't do this.
"You need to be on the outlook for injustice. It's sick and wrong to hear of female recruits being sexually harassed. I don't want it happening! I need you to help me figure out how to stop this. Train your commands to be on the outlook for these wrongs. We have to create a culture that doesn't look away from injustice but moves to stop it and bring change."
My paraphrase of what he said, but this whole segment was powerful. This should be our challenge to the church! May we be on the look for injustices, move to stop them and bring change.
"The Chaplain was there when I was hurting."
He made this comment a few times and it really impressed me. He didn't go into details obviously as that wouldn't be necessary. But here a Commanding General acknowledged to his troops - sometimes I don't have it all together and during those times I need help. Loved this. Any leader who can't admit he has struggles is giving exhibit A that he has a pride issue.
"You have to create a culture where people are comfortable coming forward with bad news. Bad news is inevitable and people shouldn't be judged for having it."
This was incredibly thought-provoking for me. What does it look like to have a culture where people feel freedom to acknowledge their stuff? How do we promote that at our church? The wheels are just starting to turn in my mind on this one, but it's a vital reality that we need to figure out.