As some of you may or may not know, my younger brother, Steven (Age 20), has just joined the U.S. Army. He heads off for Basic Training at Fort Benning, Georgia in just four days. Words fail to fully explain just how proud I am of my brother. Indeed, we’ve become brothers three times over with his recent enlistment. That is to say, we are blood brothers, spiritual brothers, and now military brothers…and that type of threefold brotherhood is incredibly strong.
In fact, just last week, I spent the weekend with Steven in Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville was a good half-way point for us as he lives in Florida and I live in Iowa. We rented a cabin in the woods and spent some quality time bonding, exploring some cool sites, and (of course) I gave to him a ton of brotherly advice about life in the military. It was so good to spend some time with my brother. Indeed, I shall cherish the memories of that weekend for a long time to come.
Well, Steven, just in case I forgot to say it last weekend. Here are my top seven pieces of advice (in no particular order) as you head into the Army…
- Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Don’t be half-hearted in any of your tasks. From mopping the floor to leading the formation, mop and lead with passion.
- Never forget who you really are. You are not simply a United States Army Soldier; you’re a Born-Again United States Army Soldier. You belong to Jesus Christ! Never forget that.
- Being a man is so much more than speaking loudly and lifting heavy stuff. Being a man entails things like graciousness and gentleness. Approach manhood with this balanced approach and you’ll find yourself successful both in the field and in the ballroom.
- The day you find a young lady that makes you understand God better, marry that girl. Yes, buy a ring (a nice one), get down on one knee, and wax eloquent concerning your undying love for her. I promise you, you’ll not regret this.
- Speaking of regret, the longer you live, the more regrets you’ll accumulate. I know there are people out there who say that you can live with no regrets (and to a point I understand what they mean), but to be a fallen human is to live with some degree of regret. Just remember, as Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
- Life in the military will take you many places. Indeed, some of those places will quite literally be “the valley of the shadow of death.” But remember, you don’t have to be overcome by fear in this valley because God Himself is always with you. So, when the darkness is very dark and the way seems difficult, cry out to Him, He’s always there.
- I don’t care what the news reports say, we live in the absolute best country on the planet. I love being an American. I know you do as well. So, serve your country with honor. Remember to read your Bible and pray often. Volunteer to do hard things. And if need be, die like a man…die like a solider…because, in the end, this world (and even our precious American way of life) is not the end, there is eternity that awaits us.
I love you, Steven. I am so very proud of you. I’ve told you plenty of my own stories, it’s now time for you to live your own story. I can’t wait to hear of all your adventures. Stay safe. I’ll see you when I see you…