Why we all need a personal drill sergeant

I remember the name of my drill sergeant. I can’t remember 99% of the leaders I worked with in the United States Army many years ago… but I’ll never forget Drill Sergeant Northrup.  

I’ve heard thousands of other warriors make the same statement.  The fires of Bootcamp or Basic Training burn this person into the memory of almost every warrior I’ve ever met.

A drill sergeant, or drill instructor, has a pivotal role in turning a private citizen into a trained warrior in America’s military. There is a massive transformation that happens during Bootcamp/ Basic Training. Short of the transformation in a person’s life after experiencing a born-again relationship with King Jesus, I’ve never seen anything produce a greater difference in a man or woman than the change a drill sergeant produces in Basic Training. 

You need someone who will be a drill sergeant in your life! And so do I.  

I’m using the title “drill sergeant” to describe anyone who forces you to pay attention to the most important things when life gets difficult or dangerous. Life can often be confusing and difficult. That’s why we all need someone who has gone before us and knows how to lead us through those difficulties and dangers.  

A drill sergeant is a friend that helps you focus when life is confusing.  A drill sergeant is a family member that forces you to push through the difficulties in life.  

Focuses your attention

People are easily distracted. Some people are more easily distracted than others… but all of us can become distracted by choices, challenges, and chaos in life. Sometimes, the more choices that you have available to you, the more difficult it is to decide. Basic Training eliminates almost all of the distractions in life. An essential ingredient in forging a private citizen into a national warrior is removing all distractions. 

When warriors in Boot Camp wake up tomorrow, they don’t have to wonder what they’re going to wear. That decision is being made for them by a drill instructor.  They don’t have to wonder what they’re going to do tomorrow; that decision is 100% up to the drill sergeant. When the distractions are removed, many of the choices and challenges of life are stripped away with them. 

You don’t have to decide what choices to say yes or no to in Basic Training; your drill sergeant makes those choices for you. You need a drill sergeant to help focus your attention when you’re overwhelmed by options or when life becomes confusing.

I wrote this article to help people who struggle with the fine art of saying no when confronted by many choices.

Forces you to endure

You can endure a lot more than you might think. Most people will never be able to reach their real potential without being pushed beyond their limits. However, being pushed beyond your limits is not fun, nor is it comfortable.

You need a drill sergeant that will force you to endure difficulties when you want to give up. That will help you learn you’re able to endure a lot more than you ever thought possible.  If you want to know more about the difference that trials can make in your life, check out my recent article about the fires that forge a great leader.

Drill Sergeant Northrup was tough and mean, but he was also great at turning teenage boys into hardened infantrymen in the US Army.  He drove me hard during Basic Training and showed me how to endure a forced march over long distances wearing a heavy rucksack.  He was able to help me learn how to handle these kinds of difficulties within my first few weeks in the United States Army.

Because of Drill Sergeant Northrup’s influence, I learned not only to endure, but to love forced marches.  (I know; it sounds like I’m sick in the head, right?) For the next 23 years I benefited from the lessons that he taught me about forced marching.

Forges you into a warrior

I’m grateful that Drill Sergeant Northrup forged me into a warrior. Above everything else, the role of a drill sergeant is to forge a private citizen into a warrior. One of the most under-appreciated roles a drill sergeant does is to help a man or woman become aware of the conflict that constantly rages all over the world.  Only after warriors become aware of the conflict raging around them are they able to focus their training to prepare for that conflict.

The Bible describes a spiritual war which is raging all around you every day in 1 Peter 5:8. [Be sober-minded; be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.]  

Peter is suggesting that you’re in the middle of spiritual battlefield right now, and I’m using this article to argue that you and I need a drill sergeant to help prepare us for the spiritual battle that’s raging around us at this moment! Many people go through this spiritual battlefield like citizens completely untrained and unprepared for the attack of the enemy.

Just like a drill sergeant grabs a warrior’s attention and focuses it for the battles around them, you need someone who will help focus your attention, so you don’t become an easy target for your enemy.  If you want to know more about the difference that a drill sergeant can make in your faith or how he or she can guide you through the midst of a difficult fight, check out Troy Singleton’s recent sermon, A Former Drill Sergeant’s Thoughts on John 2. 

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