Review: The U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual
Ever find godly wisdom in an unexpected place?
It happened to me when I read the “The U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual.”
I was trying to develop a class for men about being a leader in the home and was having no luck in the Christian literature world.
I found plenty of books for elders, deacons and ministry leaders. I found other books about family devotionals and family prayer life but nothing that discussed daily living.
In frustration, I went outside the box and asked myself, “Who has to train and develop leaders in large numbers all the time?” This led me to the U.S. Army. Its approach is a 100 percent servant-leadership model called “Be, Know, Do.”
“Be” refers to all the good character traits a leader needs to have. A leader must be authentic and trusted to look out for the interests of others.
“Know” means having the skills that a leader needs to develop, including empathy, listening, planning and the like.
“Do” refers to how a leader acts in harmony with good character traits to bring out the best in others.
When you read the field manual from a Christian mindset, you see the example of Jesus throughout the discussion.
The book also discusses the Army’s “After Action Report” concept, which emphasizes doing better going forward. We don’t ignore sin, but we do want to learn from our mistakes and do better. This is an excellent approach to disciplining children.
I even found a discussion of grace, where the Army cautions against creating a “zero defects” environment where harsh punishment creates fear of taking a risk to pursue good things.
One of my favorite parts is a discussion of how important it is for everyone, from privates on up, to know what the mission goals are. In a spiritual context, we all understand that the goal is taking as many people with us to heaven as we can.
When we share that goal, we can take the initiative when opportunities arise and still do good when our communication breaks down and unexpected obstacles appear.
The Leadership Field Manual has been updated a couple of times since, but the 2004 edition that I read is still in print.
ROGER TATE is a deacon of the Pleasant Ridge Church of Christ in Arlington, Texas, and a former trustee of Members of Churches of Christ for Scouting. He serves on the special needs and disabilities committee of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
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