After many years of leading Marines I learned this truth: “The sun rises, the sun sets, and the Private doesn’t know Sir!” Some of you may be wondering what this means. It means, each day by God’s gracious miracle of life, and whether we see it or not the sun will rise and it will set. As for the “Private” not knowing anything, well, I must explain myself. You see, a Private is the lowest ranking person in the military. He has been stripped of any individualism, and trained in the art of war. You could say he has been militarily “born again.” When he leaves basic training he is an empty bucket waiting to be filled by the knowledge of the seasoned Non-commissioned Officer (NCO). As the NCO fills the Private with knowledge and teaches him to use the tools of his craft, the Private moves through the ranks and one day becomes the NCO.
I found this to be true in my spiritual life as well. I remember the day I walked forward and professed Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I was elated, happy, scared, and free all at the same time. Instantaneously I became the “Private” stripped of all that had made me, me. I had become spiritually “born again.” However, in my salvation experience I failed to realize that I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and didn’t spiritually grow. I thought, miraculously, just as my salvation experience had come I would be endowed with knowledge and quickly grow in my spirituality. I did not. I was a bucket waiting to be filled. I went to many Churches looking for that one leader, that one NCO that would take me under his wing to teach me and mentor me in the things I did not know. Typically, I got this answer: “Just go off somewhere alone and read God’s Word that is all you need to do to know what you don’t know.” So, I read, and I read, and I read until I was blue in the face. I became tired, worn out, disgruntled, and discouraged; a Christian saved by Christ, yet I remained a Private.
Finally, in my desperate, honest, and heartfelt cries to Christ he answered my prayers. He sent some Christian leaders, Christian NCO’s, in my direction. They filled me up with knowledge by answering my questions, giving me study tips, and just hanging out with me, explaining things, until I began to know what I didn’t know. Ultimately, it was because of the selflessness of these Christian NCO’s that led me to where I am now: light years past my salvation experience.
My final comment to leaders, military and Christian alike is this: Never forget where you came from. Don’t keep knowledge to yourself – share it — not everyone knows what you know. Helping someone know what you know is the greatest gift of selflessness. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)