Lessons from Boot Camp

In 2002 Michael, my oldest son, spent 10 weeks in boot camp at Fort Leonard Wood. I was able to visit him one time while he was there.  I checked him out, took him to lunch, took him back to my hotel and watched him sleep until it was time for him to return to the base! Even more than a good steak, Michael relished the chance to sleep.

He still looks back on this time as one of the toughest, most life-changing experiences of his life. I recently came across a note I wrote after my visit. In it I jotted down some lessons from boot camp that reminded me a lot of the Christian life.

1. Michael was not allowed to talk in the mess hall. If he did, his drill sergeant would jump all over him. Why? Because everything Michael did or said reflected on the reputation of his drill sergeant. In a similar way, our actions and words reflect on the reputation of Christ. When was the last time you considered this before saying or doing something?

2. Michael was a “pusher” during his squad’s 15K marches. When someone fell behind, his was the backpack they grabbed on to in order to keep from falling further behind. Michael was then tasked with dragging his fellow recruit to the front of the line. As a Christian, Christ is your “pusher.” He is the one who is always there when you fall behind. He is the one you can count on to get you to the front of the line. When was the last time you reached out to Christ instead of something else to move you forward?

3. When you are in boot camp the drill sergeant wakes you up every morning at 4 AM. It is his responsibility to make sure you wake up on time. At AIT (Advance Individual Training) the soldier is given an alarm clock and it becomes his responsibility to get up at 4 AM. As baby Christians, God opens doors for us. However, as mature Christians, God expects us to open a lot of the doors ourselves.

Boot camp transforms civilians into warriors through a comprehensive and intense 10-week training cycle. The Christian life is meant to transform us into Christ-centered men and women who reflect Him in all we do and say.