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Monday, November 24, 2014

Lifer Needs a New Life

Two stories. The first is extracted from a New York Times article about the impact of military cuts. This goes beyond limiting recruitment efforts. These are “reduction in force” cuts where our career military people (lifers) are losing their jobs!

Military people have a tougher time comprehending such force reductions as they see occurring with their civilian counterparts. Once you reenlist, and you perform admirably, it’s usually an automatic that you can stay in until retirement. But now, select groups of these career folk are being “terminated.”

As the Times reports it, “…for reasons the Army has not explained, the largest group of officers being pushed out — nearly one in five — began as enlisted soldiers.” This is not supposed to happen. And for some, it’s crushing to their post-service time morale!

Here’s the way the Times story opens: “For all the insecurities of war, Captain Elder Saintjuste always figured the one thing he could count on from the Army was job security.” Saintjuste is struggling. He says, “It wasn’t just losing a job. It was like having your wife leave you suddenly and not tell you why. It’s your whole life.”

But it was a later quote from Captain Nathan Allen that particularly caught my attention. Allen was awarded a Bronze Star and served more than 14 years as a linguist and intelligence officer. Now he’s been cast out, too. His reaction? “I’m a mess right now. They took away who I am. I’m a soldier.” Wow.

This coming week marks a full year since my last broadcast on the radio station I had worked at for 14-plus years. My departure was, well, “unscheduled.” At least by me.

While certainly disappointed at my circumstances, I viewed things quite differently than Captain Allen. Many years ago, I yielded my resistance to God in the area of my work assignments. That resistance was towards being in “ministry.” Almost immediately, a door opened to become a talk show host at a Christian radio station. It became…my assignment.

Seven years later, my assignment at that station ended. And I received a call about a new assignment. This one in Chicago. It lasted those 14-plus years. And then it ended.

And immediately…and I mean immediately…I chose to ask God for my next assignment. I would leave without regrets, believing that radio was not my identity. I was trusting that my God-given gifts could be used in many places. In many ways. A blog I wrote on this a year ago received a LOT of feedback.

In what my wife and I consider to be perfect timing, my five months of daily praying brought good news. A Christian radio station in Chicago needed a talk show host. They called. I responded. And that is my new assignment.

Deep within my soul, I believe God designs us with purpose. Captain Allen has much to offer this world, but he needs to see his purpose may be much greater than military service. He must not let that define him. Nor should you. Instead, ask God to fulfill His purpose for you.

The book of Psalms is a wonderful resource during transition. I latched on to this verse: “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” (Psalm 138:8, ESV)

One of the exciting challenges in taking on new “assignments” is to look for how God uses these to benefit others and advance our growth as well. For those in transition, don’t give up. Ask for God’s help in finding the new assignment. Don’t be afraid of where it takes you. And for sure, don’t let your work life define you as a person. You were made for more.

Do I sound like Zig Ziglar?

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays, 4-6 pm on AM 1160 WYLL in Chicago. Check the web for WYLL and the app for AM 1160 to listen live. Or by podcast.

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