Like everyone else I have been glued to my television with the almost non stop coverage of the Haitian Earthquake and its death and devastation. At first blush I was ready to hop on a plane and fly to Haiti and help; to do something... anything. But do what?
I was discussing this recently with an officer friend of mine. He and I had both been in Galveston, Texas following the destruction caused by Hurricane Ike. My friend remarked, "I have even thought about applying to private security and going to Iraq."
In addition to the fact the money would be excellent my friend would feel like he was doing something that really made a difference.
The fact is he is already doing that: making a difference right here at home. That is not to say some officers are not called to respond to foreign soil to help those in distress, to protect and serve in other parts of the world. Some are. To be more truthful a few are.
Finding a need and trying to meet it is a noble goal. But if you don't know that you know that you know, so to speak, stay home. You can get in over your head. It's like the well meaning missionaries in Haiti that were trying to take Haitian kids to a better life. They ended up in jail. Having a good motive can still create major problems.
Let me use a New Testament Bible verse to make a point. The latter part of Acts 1:8 says, "...and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
What I am saying is most of us are called to do our job in our own Jerusalem; the town where we live and serve. There are indeed a few first responders that are called to the ends of the earth.
Why are so few called? It has to do with preparation. Let me recount a story I heard years ago. A young man was praising a famed pianist following a concert. "I would give anything if I could play like you," the young fan said.
The pianist replied, "No you wouldn't. If you would give anything to play as I, you would practice 12 hours a day; your entire life would be the piano. You would give up everything else."
The moral of the story is: there are many things people including law enforcement officers want to do, but are we willing to pay the price?
Are we willing to eat right, sleep right, exercise, and take care of our bodies? Are we as officers willing to train, go to night school and prepare for what is it we really want to accomplish?
Take the SWAT Team as an example. A few officers I know want to be on the SWAT Team, but they aren't willing to prepare for it, train for it, much less try out for it. How can they hope to attain their goal if they put forth no effort toward that attainment?
My admonition to each of us is (and I am including myself): If we want to do those things that are above and beyond the call, we have to prepare ourselves; we must be ready.
It may be silly at this point to remind you of the Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer story. The fact is old Rudolf was chosen for a special assignment because he had an attribute that none of the other reindeer had. Do you have any special attributes? You can. All that is needed is to make up your mind you are going to rise above the mundane and develop that special attribute; that special gift you have. That way you will be ready for the call when it does come.
You will be ready because you prepared and trained. You set goals and you have a plan. You won't be flying blind. You made up your mind to have a special purpose. You will be ready.
All of us won't go to Haiti or Iraq, some of us may never leave our state. But that doesn't mean we can't accomplish that special thing we desire for our lives; satisfy that special calling we feel we have.
Heroes are made not born. You may have your chance next week or next month. You might even have it tomorrow.
Are you ready to serve in your Jerusalem? If not you can be. All it takes is a decision.