By Adam Mallette
It’s 0043 in the morning, and I’m staring at the blank page of a Word document wondering what I might say to pastors and those in positions of ministry leadership. If I could convey one message it would be this: CRUCIFY THE MARINE.
Three years ago after leaving the Marine Corps to follow the Lord’s calling to preparation for ministry at Southwestern, I believed I had it all together. I had been a Captain in the Marine Corps and led Marines in combat. I had a Masters in International Relations and was an effective administrator. I could see organizational inefficiencies with little effort, and could take decisive action to remedy the problem.
I, I, I, I.
The Lord has shown me my ignorance over these last three years. Ninety-one credit hours later, I finished up my M.Div. this December. And the professors at Southwestern have wonderfully pressed into my mind more than I thought possible. Yet, for all that the M.Div. has taught me, its greatest lesson has been in exposing how very much I don’t know. Throw in the residential experience of a family of six in student housing, the pressures of living on less, and the strain for time, and you have the perfect concoction for being humbled. And that’s just what the doctor ordered and what the Lord knew my heart needed.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” It is clear that our salvation is the great gift and act of God reaching into our decay (Ephesians 2:1-3). Continuing on, verse 10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, that God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” We see in the text a natural flow from being to doing. That is, the works we are created for in verse 10 come from an overflow of our relationship to the Lord. Our calling is to BE before it is to DO; a call to be His. Ours is a call to commune with the Lord in repentance, faith, confession, suffering, giving, utter dependence, and trust. Our identity is not in a title, or the kingdom usefulness of our talents.
If there is any hope of being used in ministry, we have to crucify the Marine.
We are not God’s 911 force in readiness. We have to let go of the guy who twists his abilities with his usefulness; his rank with his importance. We must keep from letting the guy who is ten feet tall and bulletproof have his way. We need to give up the thought that we have it all together, know it all, and that God is counting on us to achieve His ends. And for those times when the square peg needs to be forced into the round hole, don’t call on the Marine; call on the Lord. If I can do it all, there is no place for the Lord. And the reality is I can’t do it all; and neither can you. The Lord doesn’t need a guy that has it all together. He needs a guy that desires Him altogether.
I won’t stop calling you all civilians or wondering why you don’t call me sir. I’ll continue to prefer my coffee more tar than tea. I’ll shave my face, keep my hair short, and expect you to as well. I’m not saying the Lord can’t use those lessons or disciplines learned in the Corps; he has and is. He will bring to bear all of your experience and giftings too. But before you turn to the Marine to resolve the crisis, turn to the Lord.
He doesn’t need a Few Good Men, He just needs you.
(Adam is a husband and father of four. He serves as the Director of Student Services and is a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the Interim Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Kemp, Texas. You can follow him on Twitter @adam_mallette).