United States Army Reserve units practice their Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) annually at active duty posts or National Guard camps around the country. In 2001, 3rd Battalion 3rd Brigade 95th Division was assigned to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri to one of the training battalions. D Company was a Basic Training Private whom no one liked. Going into the unit’s third week of training, Private Richard Russell (not his real name) was about 6” 1’ tall, probably weighed 130-135 pounds with a face full of acne and other blemishes. Add to that Drill Sergeants and peers were constantly correcting him regarding the wear of his uniform, personal hygiene and his “I don’t care” attitude.
Whenever Private Russell had a break from training, he talked about wealth, position and power. “One of these days I’m going to have a ton of money, a big house and run a big company,” he would boast. “Someday all of you are going to know who I am. You watch. I’m going to have at least two houses, lots of cars and wear the best clothes that I can find.”
Within a week of the Reservist cadre take over, it was understood by Drill Sergeants that what Private Russell was actually saying was, “One of these days I’m going to be loved and respected by those who know me.” He believed that if he had enough things to show people, everything would take care of his lack of popularity.
What Private Russell needed (and received) was a Drill Sergeant who was wise, cared about his well-being, and was to spend off duty time to mentor the young soldier. Drill Sergeant Anthony King a Christian man of God, was that Non-Commissioned Officer up to the task. He took Private Russell aside, sat down with him and had a long talk with him about team work, personal hygiene, and seeing to detail. Drill Sergeant King did all of this without once having to raise his voice or utilize Army corrective tactics often used in Basic Training on the spot correction.
Transformation was slow. Drill Sergeant King, many times, had to set him straight. Private Russell’s behavioral adjustment received a boost when members of his platoon asked if he wanted to eat lunch with them and when a female with the Company noticed him. In about a month, subjects of things (money, cars, and houses) dropped out of his conversations and visits with other members of his units increased beyond his wildest dreams.
It is often times difficult for many of us to realize that obnoxious behavior in our neighbors, work associates, classmates is actually a cry for help. Much of the time, these individuals become isolated their behavior increasingly bizarre to the point we reject them as psychopathic, sick, even dangerous when all they want and need is a compassionate person willing to go the extra mile. Christ and Christianity is more than equipped to work with the problem persons.
Think back, for those of you who experienced a break up with the first boyfriend or girlfriend you loved; failed a test in school, or someone said something hurtful to you and the family, friends, and a pastor/minister/rabbi who took time to challenge you, listen to you, support you. What a difference it made! Did it not?
The “long talk” does not have to always be unpleasant. When one reads the Bible, Jesus was predominantly successful because He was forceful but kind to sinners, listened followed by non-judgmental counselling that listeners could reflect upon. Sometimes people just need a few gentle suggestions such as, “I think you should consider cleaning up how you use words” or “I know you can do this”.
Some are telling us that Christians are dropping out of contact with culture and society due to attacks on every aspects of Christianity. At this period, Christianity and Jesus’ message are desperately needed. Christians past and present have greatly altered the lives of hundreds and thousands of individuals for good. Remember Jesus told us we can expect to be hated even killed by the world because of truth and goodness. He also told not to worry or be afraid as He is control and will be there to guide you with truth and His peace.