Chaplain's Column: Facing the Giants

Perhaps you have seen or at least heard about the movie Facing the Giants.

"In his six years of coaching, Grant Taylor has never had a winning season. Even the hope of a new season is squelched when the best player on his Shiloh Eagles decides to transfer schools. After losing their first three games of the season, the coach discovers a group of fathers are plotting to have him fired. Combined with pressures at home, Coach Taylor has lost hope in his battle against fear and failure.

However, an unexpected challenge helps him find a purpose bigger than just victories.

I call your attention to the last line in italics. Specifically part of the phrase," helps him find a purpose bigger than just victories".

If I had just read what I wrote, I'd be saying the purpose of playing football is the victory. What else could there be? In the case of the movie Facing the Giants, Grant Taylor found he had the wrong purpose. Because the school was a religious school, Grant determined the real purpose for his team was, win or lose, to be thankful to God regardless, and to set a good example.

How does that fit into law enforcement work today? If we did a survey and asked 100 officers why they entered law enforcement, most would say something to the effect of, "to help people." Some would say, "to protect and serve".

I believe, almost to a man and woman, when we entered law enforcement, we did so with a purpose. The purpose was helping someone, or to protect and serve, or a dozen other lofty goals.

But sit around any briefing or locker room today, and it doesn't take a Harvard degree to figure out most of us have lost our purpose for being in law enforcement. There isn't enough room here to talk about the "whys." Suffice it to say, for many of us, the luster has worn off the badge. We complain about the shift supervisor, the high mileage patrol cars, and lack of equipment. The list could go on and on.

Sure, a lot of our beefs are legitimate, but if we listen for a while to the usual conversations, it's clear many of us have lost our purpose.

Is our reason for being just writing tickets or making arrests? What is our purpose today as law enforcement officers or civilian support staff?

Could it be our purpose is to "make a difference?" Some will say, "how can I make a difference? There are so many calls for service, so many problems in the family, kids and adults alike on drugs. How do you expect me to 'make a difference'?"

My answer to you is actually a question: how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. All we can do is work our little corner of the block.

Many of you have heard the story about a man walking along a beach. The tide was out, having left many starfish. As he walked along, the old man would occasionally bend down, pick up a starfish and throw it back into the sea.

A young boy came up, and seeing what was happening, asked the old man what he was doing. He replied, "I'm throwing starfish back into the sea." The young boy look puzzled. "What difference does it make? There are so many starfish, what does it matter?

Bending down again, the old man picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, remarking to the boy, "Son, it matters to this one".

Maybe many of us have lost our focus, lost our edge. Frankly, many of us drowning in a sea of paper feel it's useless. What difference does it make? What does it matter?

Part of the answer comes from a song written by Ray Boltz, Thank You For Giving to the Lord. The storyline in the song is of a man who died and went to heaven. People began walking up and thanking him. Regardless of your faith or tradition, the premise of the song still makes a lot of sense.

In part, the words say:

One by one they came,
Far as the eye could see,
Each life somehow touched by your generosity.
Little things that you had done,
Sacrifices made.
Unnoticed on the earth,
In heaven now proclaimed.

Maybe it's time to consider getting back to basics. Getting back to our purpose for joining law enforcement in the first place.