"I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands." - Psalm 143:5

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rules of Engagement

This is a small excerpt form my upcoming book RETOOLED: Shaping Our Fathering From the Inside Out. Hope you enjoy it…please leave a comment, I would appreciate the feedback. - Jay

patton_flag The situation was tense; on one side was an angry civilian, on the other side a senior officer with superior firepower behind him. There was shouting; threats and soon the senior officer let his anger get the best of him, forgetting the rules of engagement he spoke and acted unkindly. The civilian reacted with his own angry conduct and the circumstances boiled over and I (the senior officer) had blown it—I had provoked my son to anger. A silly argument escalated into a near brawl.

It all started when I asked my then ten-year old son Mike if he had finished his chores. I knew that he left them half finished and now was distracted by video games. When he answered my inquiry with a humdrum “I don’t know,” the battle lines were drawn.

Excuse me? I asked, “You don’t know if you finished you chores? Just who would know that information then?

Shrugging his shoulders, his eyes wandered to avoid mine and the tension grew between us. “I guess I’m finished…Besides it was my turn to play and I wanted to play” Mike replied sharply.

“So, playing video games became more important than answering me honestly? Is that true? I asked, my voice now growing louder.

Mike became very quiet.

Well Mike…is it? I’m waiting for an answer! My voice louder still.

Mike was still quiet, but now glaring at me. Communication was rapidly breaking down but instead of calling for a translator (my wife) I started to read him the riot act! I was yelling now and telling how disrespectful he was being and how dare he and who did he think he was…on and on I went. I had lost containment and was having a warp core breech.

After a few minutes of ranting, I finally asked him “Well, do you have anything to say?

With an exasperated voice Mike replied, “Not when you’re yelling at me I don’t!”

He was angry and that is when I realized that I had caused my son to sin.

So, I had to repent, I went to Mike and asked his forgiveness. In my own anger I had caused my son to break the fifth commandment: honoring your mother and father. I had misused my own authority in a very un-gentle display of “I’ll show you who’s the boss,” causing him to get angry. For a moment I had completely disregarded the Father’s SROE for my life.

In the military, Standing Rules of Engagement, SROE for short are define as follows:

SROE are directives that define the circumstances and limits under which U.S. forces initiate and/or continue engagement with belligerent forces, and define when and how force may be used.

In short, SROE define the structure for actions and attitudes of solders during critical operations. I believe the Fruits of the Spirit are the Father’s Standing Rules of Engagement; they epitomize the way the Father relates to His children. One of the greatest characteristics of God is his gentleness; it’s His standard to follow, especially in training our children.

“Nothing is so strong as gentleness; nothing so gentle as real strength.”
- St. Francis de Sales

“And now a word to you fathers. Don't make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

One Greek word for gentleness is praiotes, meaning mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness. The trait is not indicative of weakness in any way, although not usually thought as a manly term. For example, all those Marine commercials mention the few, the proud, strength, power and even honor, but never gentleness.

Still, this SROE provides strength for handling difficult circumstances, enabling us to be firm, but not callous, candid if necessary, but never mean-spirited. When this fruit retools us, its effect is that we can be angry and yet not sin—this fruit controls the passionate part of our nature. When we obey this SROE it calms tense times, produces an opportunity for peace to reign in communication struggles.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath” Proverbs 15:1

More importantly, it turns their hearts back towards me when I engage my children in this manner. It may take a while to work through but our Father’s own gentleness towards us makes all the difference. How do I know this? When my son forgave me I felt the strength of our relationship grow and the distance between us fade away.

That’s significant gentleness retooling!

 

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