These are the words inscribed on the coin that all Airman graduating from 8 weeks of grueling basic training receive. I was honored to see this special coin ceremony this past weekend, as I was in San Antonio watching my youngest son graduate from Air Force basic training. These words, this motto, was also inscribed in huge letters on a bridge that all people pass under while on the Air Force base. These words have stayed with me.
These words and the ceremonies I attended this past weekend, revived the patriot within me.
I am ashamed to admit my patriotism has been waning recently. I am not impressed with our current administration, congress, or the rulings of the supreme court. In fact, those three entities downright depress me. Is this my country that I am to be proud of?
But this weekend, I found my patriotism, I found what I am proud of. I was proud of all those young men and women who have chosen to serve their country. I was proud to be among the other mothers, fathers, wives, sisters, brothers, who were wildly cheering and supporting their loved one as they marched past, or stood at attention. And this time, when I looked up at the flag, and held my hand over my heart, I realized, it really is the people, the common everyday, struggling, hard working citizen that I am proud of. Not the institution of government, not the celebrity culture the media is obsessed with. I am proud to now be connected to a group of people, who have as their motto, those words;
Integrity first, service before self, excellence in all we do.
If only we could all live by these words. As a Christian, aren't these words, in effect, what God asks of us?
Integrity is simply living by a higher moral calling, and doing the right thing whether someone is looking or not.
'Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ; so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I may hear of you standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.'
Philippians 1: 27
Service before self
'Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others'
Philippians 2: 3-4
Excellence in all we do
'Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men.'
Colossians 3: 23
Yes, this motto, which the Air Force has adopted, is befitting for God's people too.
I challenge all of us, to re-examine ourselves in the light of this motto. These words don't come easy, it takes effort, great effort, to live with integrity, deny self, serving God and others, and strive for excellence, working heartily, in all we put our hand to. But we are serving something much greater than a country, we are serving the Almighty King. A King who has provided an advocate in His son, Jesus Christ, and a helper in the Holy Spirit. A King who desires that we march together, not alone, through this life, wrought with its challenges and trials, to our home, that wonderful glorious home of heaven! And He is there, all the way, cheering us on.