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Clear Communication Is Essential Print E-mail
Written by Ray Fairman   

In chaotic environments we depend on clear and concise communications. Brevity and accuracy are key components at such times. But do we communicate all things clearly? I think not. To see what I mean, Click on Read More.

A man can never be greater than his Master

Using Clear Text In Your Life"

I have found myself living for more than 45 years in an occupational environment that seems to be somewhat Godless. You see I have simultaneously been either a full time Marine and a part time Sworn LEO or a full time Sworn LEO and a part time Marine since I was 17 years old.

In both of those environments you rarely find God. But, I learned over the years as I served in those professions, that the reason for that concept is that you only find God in places He is taken and many people, even Christians seem to be reluctant to take God to work, especially into governmental work environments. They are particularly reluctant to bring Him into those environments, which seem to be stereotyped by the “Machismo” image of weapons, power, combat and violence.

Many people who don't work in these professions, want to communicate a belief that God is primarily a merciful God and they don't approve of our sometimes harsh treatment and required judging of our customer base. They want to disregard God's just nature and the fact that we will ultimately be held accountable for our actions and our opinions regarding justice and mercy and communicate only the message of love. Many of those who do work in our professions feel that communicating any form of Christian compassion in the professions of arms is contraindicated. These brothers and sisters in arms seem to have forgotten that meekness and compassion are signs of strength under control, and not weakness. What message do we want to communicate to the public one that defines our profession as authoritarian and harsh or one that defines our service as strong, dedicated, compassionate and just?

I was born in late 1945; my mother died when I was 5 YOA and up until then, I had rarely lived with both my mom and dad at the same time, because my dad was a US Marine Master Sergeant who was deployed during and for a period after WW II. After mom's death I was farmed out to various relatives for a couple of years before returning to live with my dad and his second wife of at least 5 more wives. I lived in This "blended" family from age 7-12. It was a family where the communication of love and compassion for each other was not a priority. Our family values were more closely aligned with "Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs" than with any biblical principles I later came to understand and embrace. And even though the professed religion of choice was Roman Catholic, I never felt that the God occasionally mentioned was real.

I had little or no religious upbringing or training until age 8 or 9 when I went to Catholic School and was taught about God by rote memorization, as if I were learning the fundamentals of baseball or football. It wasn't until I was 13 YOA that I was introduced to the concept of a personal God who desires a close and personal relationship with each of us and who really cares about us. Up until that time I really didn't think anyone truly cared if I lived or died. I grew up a self-centered, self-reliant guy who found ways to get by and stay off the skyline; I could take care of myself and didn't want or need help from anybody.

However, at age 16, I found Christ through another student in my Jr. High class (Rick Ernstrom is the closest thing to a brother I ever had) and his parents (Dick and Emmy Nell) who took a real interest in my welfare. They didn't just preach Christianity, but lived their Christianity everyday. Rick was responsible for getting me into a group called Christian Service Brigade; a Christian based Para-military youth organization very similar to scouting. He also got me attending a Bible Church and into, Alpha Chi, the High School Youth Group.

Very shortly after I was saved in 1962, I graduated from High School in Santa Barbara, CA at 17 YOA and joined the U.S. Marines the next day (16 June 1963). When I began my Marine Corps Career, I was still a weak untrained Christian and immediately began to once again pilot my own life and I relegated God in the co-pilot's seat. I chose to join what I considered to be the Few, the Proud, the Elite of the warrior ethos. The Marines train you to be self sufficient and tough, not to depend on anyone but another Marine, Sounds a lot like what I learned as a kid and as a Cop when I first left active duty after Vietnam and joined the brotherhood of law enforcement.

It took many years for me to grow into a Christian Marine and God was patient with me allowing me to strain at the bit and exercise my will as He guided me through the trials I often created for myself and began strengthening my physical and moral courage as well as my understanding of the gospel as He went about molding me into what He ultimately wants me to become.

I wish I could tell you it was different when I started into the world of law enforcement, a world I had no desire to enter. But if I told you that, I would be lying. I entered police work as an adolescent Christian Marine who, like all adolescents, thought I had everything God had planned for me all figured out. So you might well imagine my confusion when I felt God leading me away from my career in the Marines after 10 years and leading me into another seemingly Godless profession where I would need to learn all over again how to live like a Christian in this difficult arena. I really thought my lines of communication with heaven had been cut.

I felt lost once again and I looked around and at first had a hard time locating any other Christian cops because back in the 60's and 70's there wasn't a plethora of overtly Christian cops, especially in uniform. Those who existed seemed to be undercover cops for Christ.

Well God wasn't going to leave me adrift, since he had brought me so far. When the devil began attacking me early on in my law enforcement career, God reestablished communications and as I attended church and studied His word the communication with Him improved. Then God used each trial I faced to increase my ethical, emotional, physical, moral and political courage. He taught me that in the absence of adversity and opposition, all courage will atrophy.

He showed me that I needed to accept the added responsibility He was preparing me to accept. A key principle I learned was that rank not only has its privileges, but also its responsibilities. He taught me that frequently we law enforcement officers will be vested with inordinate power without being properly trained to use it. As Christian LEO's we sometimes tend to forget that our rise to positions of authority, power and prominence in the world, do not elevate us to command levels in the spiritual realm. We are creatures of control and we are often endowed with extra confidence, assertiveness and are somewhat aggressive. We hate to turn control of anything including our lives over to anyone. God understands this as He made us this way so we could do our jobs the way He ordained us to do them. As you use the talents God gave you, never forget that you can never be greater than your Master.

God used my love of history to communicate to me the slow deterioration of the willingness of society to accept responsibility in general. There are many examples of this being displayed today in the abuse of ethics by nearly every segment of society. Ethical battles are fought daily and not all successfully, on the political front, the religious front, the corporate front and even the military and law enforcement fronts. Situational ethics are being touted as appropriate more and more frequently and notably in order to keep from losing (or maybe in order to acquire) power, personal gain, prominence, popularity or profit. However, there still exists in our society a moral balance point for the scales of justice. Yet there seems to be an conspicuous retreat from the ethical standards of Jesus Christ, even among some of our brothers and sisters of the badge. What do situational ethics communicate to the public?

No matter how well we do our jobs, and how often we solve folk's initial crisis', we are not and never will become God. But, because people don't call on God anymore (pray), they call a cop instead; law enforcement officers can easily develop God like complexes. Those attitudes can then be reflected at home and on the job. When this feeling begins to invade our lives, we are infringing on God's role and forgetting our own. Our attitudes begin to change and we elevate our roles to that of judge and jury. Nobody on earth needs to control that much power, thats why God never gives anyone that much power.

Do you know what I mean? How do you feel about those you serve? Those you arrest? Are you prejudice? Do you denigrate those you serve? Do you exhibit your “holier than thou” or authoritarian attitude at home? I understand now that at times I did. How high a pedestal do you want to be placed on? Before you answer, first decide how far you want to eventually fall, because someday you surely will.

Being a Christian is more than an additional life or career certification; it is a way of life that is supposed to reflect the greatness of our Lord and Savior, not our own “infallibility”. Your life and how you live it is your testimony and just as in court, your testimony establishes your credibility, the testimony of your life establishes your spiritual reputation. That living testimony or lack there of, will justify you or condemn you before God for all eternity. While this may seem unfair, the job you chose and your commitment to Christ have made you a prime target for the devil and his demons. You have been placed under a microscope; if you slip up in the slightest way as a representative of Christ or your agency, your miscue will be magnified tenfold.

Some great Biblical advice states that we are to pass along to future generations the wisdom of the gospel. Wisdom is dynamic, while knowledge and experience, its parents, are really static forces. Knowledge and experience are like vast reservoirs held behind dams of apathy and inaction. They have lots of potential, but remain dormant. When the dams are blown then the two can combine and merge into a dynamic raging river of wisdom, which can produce life-changing effects. When that wisdom is spiritual wisdom it is definitely a message worth communicating to future generations.

I realized early on in my career, that a person can never pass along to some one something they themselves do not possess. This includes both professional wisdom and spiritual wisdom. I also learned that the best teachers must be constant learners. So God revealed to me the value of the constant study of, meditation on and application of his commandments to the reality of the world in which I worked. He also made me realize that while “Iron sharpens Iron”, “Tin sharpens Tin” in much the same way. If you are not from the Northeast then you may never have heard anyone refer to their badge as "Tin" but that's what cops I knew up there called their badges and it stuck with me throughout my career, besides it fits my needs right now. In other words, It takes a Christian cop to sharpen the witness of another Christian cop. Who's your battle buddy?

There are two lessons God taught me from this principle: First, that we as officers go to a departmental or unit briefing before we go to work each shift, but generally speaking we fail to go to a spiritual briefing before we start each day. While the departmental briefing insures we are well prepared for our mortal fight against evil, not holding a daily devotion condemns us to a state of less preparedness and a lower state of effective in the spiritual warfare we are guaranteed to face.

The second lesson I learned here is that there is strength in numbers. On several agencies over the years, I was able to identify other Christian officers and eventually we set up bible study groups or a better term might be spiritual accountability groups. I say this because we would meet weekly to hold reality checks and hold each other up in prayer and support each other in our Christian walk as LEO's. We also studied God's word and read Christian authors and evaluated their work against scripture; we were often trying to apply the scriptural truths we learned to the professional conduct we displayed on the job.

This effort reminds me of an advertisement I saw recently that said when you have a problem, you call a cop, when a cop has a problem, he calls SWAT. When a Christian Cop has a problem, who does he call. The first call goes to God (Via Prayer) the next one goes to another Christian Cop or a member of his or her own “SWAT” team, only this time SWAT will stand for Spiritual Weapons And Tactics Team. You see, I think God wants Christian Cops to band together to help each other face the trials, dangers and temptations of one of the most difficult jobs there that exist in our society.

We Cops seem to think that we can face anything by ourselves. We rush right in as the saying goes where angels fear to tread. We used to call this “tombstone courage” when I started this job and I guess it is still considered apropos. I just want you to apply the same thorough caution in dealing with spiritual and moral battles that you apply to your physical ones.

Firmus in Christo

Chaplain Ray

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