The Sergeant

Master Sergeant chevron

Master Sergeant

A sergeant was put in charge of new recruits.  These recruits were green and undisciplined, and badly in need strong leadership and attitude adjustment.

The sergeant began to put his men through extensive drills and training sessions.  He led them on 20-mile forced marches with full packs, and ran them 10K before breakfast.  The training was grueling, and the sergeant often pushed his men to their limits.  At times, he corrected them sharply.  He did not hesitate to punish his men for wrongdoing or dereliction of duty.

His men often resented the harsh discipline and exacting standards to which they were subjected.  But the sergeant knew that they would be asked to do the most difficult and dangerous of tasks, and that both lives and liberty were at stake.  He cared too much for his men, and was devoted too much to his duty, not to train them to the utmost of his ability, though they hate him for it.  What his men thought of him was of no importance.

In due time, the sergeant was called upon to lead his men into combat.  The battle was desperate, and the odds great.  Sometimes the sergeant was forced to send men to certain death in order to accomplish a mission.  Some of the men blamed him for their comrades’ deaths.  Others ran for their lives in the face of the enemy.  Some deserted, and a few even went over to the enemy’s side.

One day, the sergeant was killed.  It looked like a senseless death, not heroic at all.  It seemed to accomplish nothing.  Some of his men said they were glad, because he had been too hard on them, and his discipline was too strict.  Maybe they would get a new sergeant that was easier.

But the best of them honored the sergeant, for he had made them sharp and tough.  He had conditioned them to survive under the harshest conditions with little sustenance.  He had taught them to ward off the enemy’s blows, absorb his most vicious attacks, and keep on fighting.  They knew their best chance of success was to rely on his instructions.

Some Christians have known Jesus Christ as a father figure, an elder brother, a nurse, a nanny, and even a “sugar daddy.”  Perhaps none of these views is without justification.  But in recent years, I have known the Lord mostly as a sergeant:  one who trains me, toughens me, pushes me beyond my limits, and labors to equip me to fight a pitched battle with strength and selfless courage.  He expects a lot from me, does not brook cowardice nor suffer negligence lightly.  My heart’s desire is to live up to his expectations, and to carry out his orders.

©2004 Paul A. Hughes


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