"I've started realizing that boot camp is about challenging you beyond where you've ever been challenged, in every aspect, and instilling in you the drive to push through it." - my friend Kevin Parish, in a letter he wrote to me from his training to be a United States Marine
"So far, I've been more tired, more sore, more frustrated than I think I ever have been, but I'm starting to feel like there's not much they could throw at us that I couldn't handle. It's pretty amazing." - My friend Kevin...a little bit later in the same letter
Kevin has been a special gift to me from God since I met him when he was in elementary school. He continues to be one to me now.
He speaks of and understands boot camp as I desire to speak of and understand life.
I feel like life is about challenging us beyond where we've ever been challenged, and that generally speaking, there are two kinds of people: the kind that do all that they can to avoid such tiring, soreness-producing, frustrating circumstances and those that embrace the circumstances and if they are wise, learn to love the challenges to the point of even being eager for them...signing up for them when given the opportunity.
If someone can embrace life on these terms (as a challenge to shape and mature them), then they avoid suffering far more effectively than those who actually make the avoidance of suffering (their comfort) their goal.
It's so ironic.
Kevin did that, in a way, by signing up for the Marines. He chose suffering. Sure didn't have to. He has a college degree, is very gifted and intelligent, has a loving mom and dad that care about him deeply, and resources, relationships and talents that give him many options. But he chose the Marines, with eyes wide open, for exactly what he is getting...circumstances that challenge him to mature, be shaped, and grow.
I agree with him. It's pretty amazing.
He told me there are 11 Leadership Principles that drive the U.S. Marines training philosophy:
1. Be technically and tactically sound.
2. Know yourself and seek self-improvement
3. Know your Marines and look out for their welfare.
4. Keep your Marines informed.
5. Set the example.
6. Insure that the task is understood, supervised, and accomplished.
7. Train your Marines as a team.
8. Make sound and timely decisions.
9. Develop a sense of responsibility in your subordinates.
10. Employ your command in accordance with its capabilities.
11. Take responsibility for your actions.
These principles are nothing but a list of principles for the casual reader of them. But to Marines, who have chosen to be trained in the fire of these principles, they run very deep. They are actually adjusting their lives, feelings, motivations, intentions, and perspective on everything in order to conform to them.
As I read through them, I realized I could probably find a Bible verse, if not an actual teaching of Jesus himself, that pretty much embodies each principle. Those verses are nothing but a list of verses for the casual reader of them. But to Christ-followers, who chosen to be trained in the fire of Christ's values, the run very deep. They actually adjusting their lives, feelings, motivations, intentions, and perspective on everything in order to conform to them...to him.
Semper Fi means "always faithful". It's a mantra of the Marines.
I'm not a Marine. But I'm one with the intensity of the Marines for their values and to their values. My values come from Christ...and I'm striving, also, to be always faithful.