Once a Private, always a Private. Not really.
If you were a new Army recruit, fresh out of boot camp, you could expect to be a Private (E-1) for about six months. That first promotion can be exciting – you have your feet under you, you understand a little better how the Army works, and if you stick around a little longer you will even pick up Private First Class (E-3).
Pretty exciting! Stick around for a four-year enlistment and you even have a shot at Sergeant (E-5).
At this point you will be smart AND rich. You think I am kidding…do you know what a PV1 makes? Sergeants are rolling in dough in comparison.
Promotions can come pretty fast sometimes in the military, sometimes they are a little slow. But regardless of the time it takes, if you stick around long enough and do your job well, they will promote you.
Along with this rise to fame, though, comes an expectation. I have heard it said that “the military promotes to the level of incompetence.” What they mean is the military assumes since you are a great Corporal/Specialist you will make a good Sergeant, etc. The line of reasoning is that you have hopefully learned much about the Army in your years of service, but you have hopefully also had others around and above you that have taught you and guided you as well. They believe, if done correctly, you have been properly trained to take a step forward and take on more responsibility, leading others to do what someone has already taught you.
When it works correctly, the system is great, everybody learning and, at the same time, leading/teaching others.
Kyle has called the Army a Leadership Factory. I don’t know exactly where he got the term, but he is right. How many people do you know that join the military and say “Oh, I am good as a Private. I don’t need the promotion. Thanks anyway!” I have yet to meet one.
Promotion is an honor and a blessing (including the monetary kind). It is recognition of a job well-done and a expectation that you are ready to share that knowledge with others. Rank can be a heavy burden as well, though. Leading and teaching folks while hanging out in the garrison (at your home installation) is very different than leading them in combat when mistakes can cost lives. Rank provides blessing, but also a very real accountability.
The military continues to promote folks based on time-in-service or performance or both until there becomes a very clear understanding that the individual is beyond their leadership capability or the individual decides they would like to end their military service for whatever reason.
The military makes leaders. That is what they would do. If they ever stop, they become dysfunctional and useless.
I am sure you are all questioning the topic of military leadership here. Well….there is a plan.
The church – you know, the body of believers that gathers together for worship, accountability, and service, the one who is considered the Body of Christ – that church should also be a leadership factory.
Most of us don’t see it that way. We show up, hear the sermon, listen in Sunday School and call it good. We think we don’t know enough, we don’t have enough experience, or it is not our gift to be a leader. There are a million reasons we don’t consider ourselves leaders in the realm of the church, but I would like us to rethink this and consider us all leaders.
We have all accepted Christ as our personal Savior (if you have not, I would love to talk to you about this!!). Whether we have been Christians for months or years is irrelevant, we all have things we have learned, come to understand, and seen God do. We all, ideally, know more than we did when we started. We can be leaders.
With this leadership comes blessing, but also some accountability. We are not who we used to be. We are different. We are not fully trained (even Generals are still learning) and yet we have more responsibility. God talks about this exact thing:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
God gave us all abilities, abilities He expects us to use. We are not made to be baby Christians forever. We grow, we mature, we learn, but with that comes the responsibility or leading and teaching others as well as the accountability of living the way God calls us to. Will we be perfect? By no means. We are called to be more like Christ today than we were yesterday. We can do that, with Him. “Each part doing its work.”
The church today should be a leadership factory – each Christian teaching others what they know, all striving to learn more and become more proficient in our knowledge of Him. Not a body of babies, but a Body of Christ. Two very different things.
Be on the lookout for the next blog post as we look at what it really means to be a leader.
Some questions for today?
1. What do you think of calling the church a leadership factory?
2. Does the body of believers you worship with work this way? If so, how do they accomplish that?