September 1, 2016

Chaplain’s thoughts …

Chaplain (1st Lt.) Derek VanderMolen
56th Fighter Wing Chapel

“You have to be willing to do more than the minimum. You have to be willing to sacrifice your rest and your free time to constantly improve.”

~Retired Lt. Cmdr. Rorke Denver

As long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by, and obsessed with, the special operations units in our military. Recently I read the book ‘Damn Few, Making the Modern SEAL Warrior’ by retired Lt. Cmdr. Rorke Denver.

In the first half of the book, he talks about going through initial Navy SEAL training. They would have room inspections on Monday mornings and despite their best efforts, the instructors could always find at least one speck of dust somewhere and thus fail them.

So one weekend he and his roommate went to a home improvement store and rented a commercial floor buffer. They bought industrial strength cleaning chemicals and pulled out the furniture from their room so they could thoroughly clean every square millimeter of it. They spent the entire weekend cleaning while their classmates rested or partied.

On Monday morning, their instructors spent double the usual time trying to find one blemish in their room, but they could not. They simply had to say, “This is a clean room, you passed the test.”

There is nothing glorious about a room inspection. Impressing his instructors that Monday morning didn’t make the rest of SEAL training easier for him. However, his willingness to go above and beyond for a simple task demonstrated the kind of character, motivation and attention to detail that helped him succeed and thrive in any situation.

As people of faith, if our religion is only something we turn to in times of emergency, if we put minimal effort into our faith, then it won’t be the anchor that keeps us grounded. Living a life of faith can sometimes feel like rigorous military training. You can choose to party and take the easy path in life, but there are few rewards.

On the other hand, you can take the more unpopular path, focus on the details of life such as those exemplified by our core values: integrity, excellence and service before self. Whether in common tasks or more serious ones, may we be defined as people that are willing to do more than the minimum, or go the extra mile to impress the one we love, to help a neighbor in distress, or, perhaps, to help a friend move. These things may not make living life any easier, but they certainly make an impression on those who we might influence by living out our faith.

Thank you for your service and sacrifice,

Chaplain (1st Lt.) Derek VanderMolen
56th Fighter Wing Chapel

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