Athe airport the other day, I stood next to two young military recruits and their father. The recruits, dressed in fatigues, looked to be barely out of high school. I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but since we were all cramped together in the boarding area, it was kind of hard not to hear their conversation.
As the recruits pinched each other to see which one would flinch first, their father, also wearing fatigues, gave them advice I found just as appropriate for military engagement, as it is for life and business. Here's what he said:
- “Leave your bad attitudes here.” As he said this, he pointed directly to the spot on the floor where his feet were. He told them that, as their father, he would temporarily hold onto their attitudes so they could succeed in camp. He said they would come back from basic training changed men, and that whether or not they changed for the better depended on what they did with their bad attitudes. If they left them with their father, they would change for the better. If they took them on the plane, they would change for the worse, and what's more, they'd make their training even more miserable.
- “Listen well.” He told them to pay attention to what they were being asked to do, and to do exactly what was asked of them — no less and no more. He said that listening well was half the battle of getting through training.
- “Respect others, and think of them first.” The father told his sons that all people, even military leaders, want is to be respected. Listening and respecting orders would show for the men and women they would be serving under. He told them that if they ever needed help in the military (“and you will need help, I ‘gayantee' ‘dat”), but had not shown respect, they would get no help.
- “You will be accountable.” He ended his short message by telling his sons that they would be held accountable to God for the things they did, said and thought as they served their country. He was adamant that nothing they did would be done in secret, even if it seemed that way, and that there would be an accounting for every choice they made, both in training and in combat.
It was sobering advice, applicable I think not only to military service, but also to service in life and as a business owner.
The father's sons boarded the plane before me, and I heard him sniffle. Since I was standing next to him (and I'm sure he knew I heard every word he said anyway), I just had to say something. I apologized for my eavesdropping, but told him that the message he gave his children was timeless. I thanked him that I got a chance to hear it, and told him that if every son and daughter entering the military got the same talk his sons got, our nation would be served well. He took a deep breath, said nothing, shook my hand and walked away.
Question: Are you as moved by this as I am?