Starting a new job is stressful.
Whether telecommuting or working onsite, jitters haunt. Mistakes bring learning, but stumbles are embarrassing. Getting lost, using wrong terms, missing subtleties and the weariness of acronyms/ abbreviations can make anyone want to quit.
Endurance has tangled roots; visible grit pulls from invisible sources. A family to feed, children to educate or parents to comfort motivate timid workers. Peer pressure, debt or a lack of options spur some to action. Still others persevere because of a calling.
Responding to call is stressful: bone and marrow obey inaudible summons. The lieutenant was responsible for a room full of twenty-something's and many felt called to police work. Some had expectant spouses or hungry children awaiting the end of the shift. Their youthful exuberance survived the police academy, interview process and the court of public opinion. Green, flexible shoots of public service swayed in the conference room.
The officer in charge was quick to call them young and green. They got lost, used wrong language and sometimes frustrated older officers. He also however, made it his business to catch them doing things the right way. "Gotcha!" was a game he played for the shift's edification more than their humiliation. A job entrusting a glock and rifle, with expectations they not be used, brings unique challenges. "LT" is an abbreviation for "lieutenant" and LT took every opportunity to encourage officers.
LT told stories.
Once, his grandmother cooked a goat head and set it before the family for Sunday dinner. His was a family that ate what was given; a working class family; a public school attending, make the best of it family; a do your best and then some family; an if your grandmother is serving goat head you're going to eat goat head family. He smiled as he told the story in line up.
Line up is the part of the shift where all the officers gather. Special instructions, updates from the previous shift, things to remember and words of encouragement are sprinkled. Commanding officers establish the tone: some joke, others jeer. A recollection from his childhood let the entire shift into LT's inner room.
In the room where his grandmother's steaming pot of goat head stew was offered, prayer preceded the meal. As his grandmother made space for prayer in the room she ran, so did her grandson make room for prayer in the room he ran.
"Chaplain, do you have a few words?"
A team of prayer and financial partners ensured the shift received cheeseburgers. In addition to sandwiches, the chaplain read Proverbs and taught from I Timothy 4:12:
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
These words were written to a young man named Timothy. The writer knew what you've learned since starting this job: jitters haunt. Timothy suffered from a fear of failure. Messing up once can make each of us timid.
Rather than cringe and hide, Timothy's mentor encouraged him to set an example in speech and conduct. If anyone needs a word like Paul's to Timothy, it is law enforcement professionals. When you show up, your speech and conduct are recorded on dash cameras, body cameras and cell phones.
Internet traffic can leave officers feeling like Timothy: afraid to fail.
Each officer in the room needs what Timothy was prescribed: love, faith and purity.
All three are found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As Timothy was called to serve in difficult situations, so are you. May love, faith and purity in speech / conduct be yours through the power of the Holy Spirit. Please know the food is sent by a team that is asking the Lord to take you safely out and bring you safely home.
LT gave the special instructions and updates from the previous shift. After a few problem-solving exchanges, each officer left for the road. With the room empty, LT shared the weight of responsibility he felt for each officer's life.
Quietly the chaplain listened while a seasoned officer told more stories; some for the very first time.