The SEALS and the Ministry

Returning to an Old Paradigm

Scripture has lots of pictures of the work of the gospel–whether that is pioneer church planting or the work of a local pastor.  One of them is that of a soldier.  The last few days I’ve been thinking more about the Navy Seals and how we can learn from them–both in what it means to be a missionary of the cross/minister of the gospel, and what our training for the ministry ought to look like.  This is not meant in any way to affirm the actions of the US military or SEALS in particular; just a simple comparison.  I think ministers and missionaries of the cross could learn a good bit from the SEALS.

Here are a few thoughts. . .

The Navy Seal Ethos

In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life. I am that man.

My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day. My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own. I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.

We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations. I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.

We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me – my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete. We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend. Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.

The SEALS Ethos and the Ministry

Ministers have likewise sworn to protect and defend the church (Matt.24:45-51; Acts 20:28; 2Tim.1:14; Heb.13:17).

Ministers must likewise be a special breed of men (Acts 20:18-35; 1Tim.4:6-10; Heb.13:17; Jms.3:1).

Ministers must likewise first be tested and proven for the ministry (1Tim.3:10; 5:22).

Ministers must likewise willingly accept great hazards unknown to other men (Acts 20:19-24; 2Tim.1:8-12; 2:1-4; 3:10-11; 4:1-5).  

Ministers must likewise lead by example at all times, serving with honor both on and off the battlefield, daily showing themselves worthy of the great privilege entrusted to them and earning the prestigious title bestowed upon them (Acts 20:18-21, 31-35; 1Tim.4:12-16; 6:11-16; 2Tim.2:15-26).