By, Pete Lawrence
Ephesians 4:22-24 NET
“You were taught with reference to your former way of life to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image—in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.”
Over the last month, I have been preparing for my first session as a Team Leader. I first attended Mighty Oaks in 2019 after finally succumbing to years of guilt, shame, and running from the man God called me to be. Shortly after transferring from a career in law enforcement to a career as a Firefighter, God called me to truly align myself with his calling and to face the trauma from my time in Iraq and a lifetime of searching for hope.
Due to Covid and life, I believe I might hold an unofficial record as the longest time between my first session and completing phase training. While life and switching my career back into Law Enforcement might have slowed things down, if I am honest, I would say some of that time was due to a sense of inadequacy. At Mighty Oaks, we talk about not putting the program on a pedestal. But it can feel daunting to be around such amazing men of God. While God had strengthened me in so many ways, the enemy still had his tricks to trip me up and keep my eyes off who God called me to be.
Isaiah 43:1-5 ESV
“But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.”
The journey to become a Team Leader mirrors that of a new believer. So often we see only the end product of discipleship, forgetting the growing process that takes place along the way. We think of the disciples in an elevated light. Yet, just as Peter is the first to truly declare Jesus as the Christ (Matthew 16:16, something revealed to Peter from God) in just a few sentences we see Jesus rebuke Peter for thinking of earthly things over God’s divine plan (Matthew 16:21-23). That’s kind of like getting to the goal line and throwing an interception.
“Everything that’s killing you is somewhere in the chest of every man you know”- Stu Weber, Tender Warrior
All of us are children of God, and no matter who we are we struggle with the same things. The enemy is always attempting to trip us up. He has an intimate knowledge of our fears and weaknesses. It’s not that I felt unworthy of God’s love or redemption, I just felt intimidated around such amazing men of God.
During my Phase Two training, it was the humility and strength of a mentor who discussed his feelings before coming that helped give me strength and was truly an answered prayer from God. His authenticity made me realize that I cannot “call myself worthy,” only God can, and he did that long before I was formed.
As I was in this fight, his wisdom and the guidance of my mentor and brothers got me back on my feet after the enemy had set a simple tripwire in front of me. In the weeks leading up to this Legacy Program, I had spent so much time in prayer for those attending and for my family at home I had forgotten the simple statements from page eight in the Team Leader manual: “Beware of attacks this week – Attacks are imminent. BE ON ALERT”. I had forgotten simply to ask God for strength to buoy me during the week.
Joshua 1:9 ESV
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
The God who gave the simple reminder, “Fear not, for I am with you,” is always with us. I had taken my eyes off his plan and stumbled. I was blind to my weakness and forgot to ask those around me for help. So, I will be making sure to check in with my cornerman and those who have guided me in my walk. I simply forgot that my new self, fueled by the love of God, is simply an instrument of God and there is nothing I can do, but that it is His glory.
As I prepared for this first session I reached out to other Team Leaders and got the same advice, “Trust the Process”. There was and is nothing that I can do on my own except to pray and trust that God will open the hearts of those attending. With this in my mind I stepped off on the plane towards California.
One Week Later:
What an amazing experience! It was truly remarkable to see God work in the hearts of the men attending. Men opened up about trauma and took steps towards true healing. They found purpose again and legacies were changed.
God took my feelings connected to “imposter syndrome” off my heart and out of my mind. He stayed my tongue and gave me the words to speak in delicate manners. He turned hearts of stone to those of flesh.
Remember, it isn’t on you to know what to do in every situation and know everything. It wasn’t “Pete’s process”, I certainly can’t save any of these men, it was God’s process and His program changing legacies. We are called to be obedient, even when it feels overwhelming, and we feel unworthy. Take the step of faith. Be obedient. God’s got this.
Be in the Word
Be in Prayer
Be in fellowship at your local church
Be in communication with your cornerman
To learn more about out Mighty Oaks Warrior Programs please visit: https://mightyoaksprograms.org/veteran-programs/