He lays down five guiding principles for
the officer seeking to follow Jesus. And he gives an answer to the question:
in war, whose side is God on?
It’s a fascinating address. At this time
of confrontation and potential conflict it deserves a wider audience.
The five principles:
1. God didn’t send a committee. He sent a
human leader, who had a team of 12, one of whom was a failure. So it’s
crucial that someone be in charge, with authority and responsibility. “You
can’t lead by committee – the buck stops with you, the leader.”
2. Jesus was a leader who served.
Don’t cling to
positions of authority, title, status or shoulder power, rather live with
and live through the lives of your people. In doing so, you will stand
shoulder to shoulder with the British officers in the Falklands who arrived
in Port Stanley cold, dirty and tired, having fought alongside their men,
and not with the Argentinean officers who set themselves apart, and
surrendered clean, well fed and rested: and you will stand alongside those
British officers and non-commissioned officers who, without any orders,
appeared at all times of the day and night to help the refugees in Blace and
Brazde in Northern Macedonia, giving their time, food and energy
3. Jesus was a leader who developed the
gifts of others. He built up self-belief in all He came into contact with.
4. Don’t stand aloof from your people.
Communicate with them. Listen and consult. Jesus didn’t operate from an
5. Confront evil and sin, and do so head
on. Evil is ever-present. So condemn the sin, but not the sinner.
This fifth principle, best summed up
perhaps in the word “love”, applies to our enemies too. “Love your enemies”
is not a pacifist message, but it does lie at the very heart of the Geneva
If you can do this, then you will stand
alongside those who achieved such great things in the Falklands but also
then made the decisions not to shell the retreating Argentineans around Port
Stanley; with those who achieved so much in the Gulf War, but then ensured
that British vehicles, food and water were made available to the captured
Iraqi prisoners of war; with those who today ensure equality of treatment in
Northern Ireland, Cyprus and in Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, and East
Timor. And you will stand separate from those who were in My Lai in
Vietnam, or slaughtered women and children and wounded soldiers in the Far
East and Europe in World War II, or ethnically cleansed the villages and
towns throughout Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo. This is what separates out the
true Christian leader. Difficult? Yes, of course it is, but in following
the example of Jesus Christ you can be inspired to stand firm against evil
and achieve great things.
There is more. Read the entire lecture,
and be inspired by it. Then applaud that we have such leaders in our
military, and praise God that we have such a Servant King who inspires them.
Finally, in warfare, whose side is God
In the words of Major General Cross:
Too often we expect
God to be on our side. But that is not the real issue. It is not a matter
of whose side God is on in warfare, or any other aspect of life. The real
question is not, “Whose side is God on”, but, “Are we on God’s side?”
September 13th, 2002