By Chaplain (Capt.) Rudy Stevens, Fort Benning /
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Oct. 19, 2016) — The Army life teaches us a lot of lessons, and as a chaplain for IET and AIT Soldiers over at Harmony Church, I share the following six lessons with new Soldiers.
First, learn to wait. After spending nine years in the Army, I have learned to wait well. Whether standing in early morning PT formation or waiting at Green Ramp for a jump, waiting is an every-day word in the Army. I can be impatient. I can be in a rush. I can be jammed with appointments. I can have five hundred places and people to visit, yet I can be stuck in the morning rush-hour line entering post. I cannot change the fact that I have to wait in the Army. No matter what, the Army has taught me to wait by going with the flow and being flexible.
Second, learn to embrace the unknown. Most average Americans know where they will be next week, next month, and even next year. As soldiers, we embrace the unknown of what the future holds. In some ways it can be exciting. In other ways, it can be very challenging to tell family and friends that simple phrase: “I don’t know, but once I do: I will tell you.”
Third, learn to handle failure, fear, and frustrations. One of the most important lessons for us to learn is how to handle failure well. Of course we have fear and frustrations, yet it is our failures that shape us. Never let them be final. Yes, some failures reveal our limitations, and it can be difficult to accept some of our personal limits. There is a point, however, where we don’t allow failures to define us. When we are afraid to fail, we are afraid to live. And we will just end up frustrated. Don’t let fear, failure and frustrations define you.
Fourth, learn to live with others. Just a few moments ago, I welcomed brand new 19K Trainees. The oldest one was 33 years old. The youngest one was 17 years old. They are in the same OSUT Troop! I used them as an illustration of how we learn to live with others who have different experiences. We are not all the same. Diversity in the Army makes us strong, and learning to live with others makes us even stronger.
Fifth, learn to choose your options wisely. Life offers many choices, and the Army has plenty of opportunities. Often new trainees will ask about OCS, ROTC, or how to become a Warrant Officer. I encourage them to research their options by taking three steps: see what is available, compare those options, and then chose what is best. What is best for me may not be what is best for you.
Finally, learn that we are sinners. Maybe no longer a vogue term, sin is something that affects us. It is part of the human condition. Sin makes us self-interested. Sin makes us prideful. Sin makes us selfish. And sin makes us just focus on ourselves. In the Army where we live and work closely with people, we learn a lot about sin. Someone gets a DUI, and we all lose our weekend passes. In the Army when one person causes a problem, we all suffer. That’s sin. There are different solutions to sin, so I encourage you to attend chapel this weekend to see what solution works.