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The Thin Blue Life

Working as a Believer

How to Embrace Our Police Servant-Warrior Ethos

Why We Find Police Cowardice So Offensive
Image Credit: ev from Unsplash.com

The LORD is a warrior, the LORD is His name. (Exodus 15:13)

Blessed by the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. (Psalm 144:1)

Tragically, the anti-police/anti-Christian pundits, politicians and liberal media area again ramping up their assault as we fall deeper and deeper into the Last Days. And again, one of their targets is our God-ordained servant-warriorhood (emphasis on WARRIOR).

Accordingly, this Bible study serves as another reminder that God has in fact called us to be His servant-warriors and not some toothless, unbiblical “guardian.” So, what does it truly mean (as in biblically — to wit, God’s standard) to be a warrior?

Rather than sinking into this “debate” (Lord help us) from a philosophical or political perspective, I am instead going to stay true to my ministry calling by presenting God’s position (the only one that counts) as revealed His wholly sufficient and inerrant “policy and procedure manual” known as the Bible.

If you’re a genuine believer who has spent any meaningful time in a solid, Bible-teaching church or Christian law enforcement fellowship, you’ve likely heard messages in which Christians (those who have an authentic, lifesaving/life-changing personal relationship with God in Christ) are likened to “the Army of the Lord.” Even William Booth, acting under the influence of the Holy Spirit, was pressed to name his ministry organization The Salvation Army. Where does this come from? Scripture (again, God’s inerrant Word), of course! Let’s start with this:

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Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need (Philippians 2:25)

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. (2 Timothy 2:3-4)

Blessed be the LORD, my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle. (Psalm 144:1) 

And just who is the “LORD” here? He is the Warrior of Exodus 15:3 — The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name.

Now the anti-police pundits, or course, deny we’re at “war” [sigh] while seeking to move us away from what they view as a “militarized” model of policing towards one of an emasculated “guardian.” But is that even a “thing” and does it hold up biblically?

Part of the problem is that most today, including those in “the Church,” have never served in a combat military unit or taken on violent offenders as a sworn law enforcement officer. Few American Christians understand that believers in other parts of the world are being tortured, imprisoned, slaughtered, and otherwise persecuted for the faith we share. Fewer still understand the concept of evil or what it means to be what my friend Lt. Col. Dave Grossman terms a “sheepdog” (see the link in the opening of this and every one of these newsletters) serving at a “minister [servant] for good and a terror against evil …” (paraphrase of our God-ordained commission in Romans 13:1-4).

Writing on the warrior concept, theologian Steve Willis framed the question like this: “But what does it take for a warrior to ‘Charlie Mike’ (military code for “Continue the Mission”) when his brothers-in-arms (often his closest friends, people who he trusts with his very life) are falling like flies all around him, maybe even dying in his arms, machine gun bullets and artillery shrapnel are buzzing a few inches over his head, and whatever is next seems impossible to accomplish? What causes a naval crewman to remain at his battle station, performing his duties–sometimes completely unseen deep in the bowels of the ship–while his ship is getting pounded into scrap metal by enemy shellfire and/or aircraft attack? What motivates pilots to press home an attack on a vital, heavily defended target while the sky is filled with triple-A (anti-aircraft artillery) and/or SAMs so thick it feels like you could step out of the plane and walk on them?”

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Or, in our world of law enforcement, what drives us as police officers to run to the sound of gunfire to serve and protect others at the risk of our own lives (including even those who hate us)? Is that a bad thing? Is it at odds with our modern Peelian principles of policing? I don’t think so – stay with me. In our world of law enforcement, what drives us as police officers to run to the sound of gunfire to serve and protect others at the risk of our own lives? Share on X

Anyone who follows my own writings and teachings knows that I routinely add the biblical concept of being a “servant” to “warrior” (servant-warrior) and even “leader” (servant-leader). What then is our “servant-warrior” ethos? And should we embrace that ethos in this supposed age of “guardians” (a politically “correct” term I’m not even going to try to define)? Let’s break it down further by first defining the terms warrior and ethos followed by servant:

Ethos: The Oxford dictionary defines “ethos” as “the characteristic spirit of a community as revealed in its beliefs and aspirations.” It is a solid starting place to be sure.

Warrior: Coming up with a clear, succinct definition for the term “warrior” is elusive to some and one that philosophers have spent a plethora of time and effort over the centuries trying to achieve. Here’s what Willis wrote about this concept: “Being a warrior is a calling above and beyond that of a soldier, someone not only capable of engaging in combat, but who has a deep appreciation for the importance and measure of that action. The consummate warrior is defined by his indomitable spirit, fierce will, personal integrity, and a willing, vigorous dedication to whatever written or implied code(s) of conduct his government and/or unit might place upon him in addition to his exceptional skill at arms.” Is that not consistent with what we do as cops? I believe it most certainly is.

The rarity of true servant-warriors is not new. On this, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus (from Ephesus, of all places), wrote this some 500 years before the birth of Jesus: “Of every 100 men, 10 shouldn’t even be there. 80 are nothing but targets, 9 are real fighters. We are lucky to have them, they make the battle. Ah, but ONE, one of them is a Warrior – he will bring the others back!”

Servant: In law enforcement, we routinely use phrases like “serve and protect.” What does that mean biblically? The word servant in the Greek is diakonos. We get the word “deacon” from that. It has the same meaning as the word “minister” used by Paul in Romans 13:1-4. Biblically speaking (meaning God speaking to us through His Word, the Bible), a deacon was a servant who cleaned yards, took out the trash, served meals/waited tables and yes, in Jesus’ day, washed the filth off the feet of his master’s guests. Jesus Himself demonstrated this to His disciples when he “took a towel” in John 13:1-17.

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Put these three terms together (servant-warrior ethos) and we come up with something like this: “The characteristic spirit of the community of those who are called to be servant-warriors as revealed in their beliefs and aspirations.” And to what should we aspire? Consider the following:

  1. To always place the mission first (with the “mission” being our summed up in our Law Enforcement Code of Ethics).
  2. To never accept defeat.
  3. To never quit.
  4. To never leave a fallen comrade.
  5. To always seek to serve others before our selves.

What then is our biblical “mission” — our Divine “call for service”? What sets us apart from what our foes would have folks think about being warriors (friend and fellow trainer  Lt. Col. Dave Grossman  will echo me on this):  LOVE! Love is the essence of all we do as servant-warriors. Here then are 5 points on the topic of love:

I Will Love

Love God:  “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’” –  Matthew 22:37

Love One Another: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” –  John 13:34-35; “”This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you .” –  John 15:12

Love Our Enemies:  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you …” –  Matthew 5:43-44  (and NO, that does not mean we can’t or shouldn’t employ appropriate force — including deadly force — if ethically reasonable in the performance of our duties).

Love and Win the Lost to Christ  (the Great Commission): “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. ‘” –  Matthew 28:18-20

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I Will Never Accept Defeat

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” –  1 Corinthians 15:51-58

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life …” –  2 Corinthians 2:14-16

“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it .” –  Colossians 2:13-15

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith .” –  1 John 5:4

I Will Never Quit

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“Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart .” –  2 Corinthians 4:1

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal .” –  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith .” –  Galatians 6:7-10

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls .” –  Hebrews 12:1-3

I Will Never Leave a Fallen Comrade

“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load .” –  Galatians 6:1-5

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I Will Serve!

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave  [bondservant];  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served  [be ministered to],  but to serve  [minister],  and to give His life a ransom for many. ” –   Matthew 20:25-28    (added emphasis mine)

In closing, I am again led to share part of a poem written by Martial Arts Sensei Brannon Bain that sums all this up wonderfully: I am a warrior. The cause for which I fight is true and just. I stand in the path of my enemy, against the harm that would come to those I protect. I shall not waver. I am a warrior.

Though there are those that would condemn me, that I would take the life of my enemy to save that of another, I shall not waver. I do not regret the strength of my convictions. I am a warrior. The cause for which I fight is true and just. I shall not waver. I am a warrior.

Substitute the words “believer” (a genuine, born again Christian) and “cop” for “warrior” in that poem and we can do away with the silly “guardian” mess and wholly embrace our biblical servant-warrior ethos . Doing so should also serve as a powerful motivator to help us stay the course to both ethically “serve and protect” as LEOs on “The Job” AND as Christians obediently answering “the Call” to carry out our Great Commission COMMAND to urgently and lovingly share the hope we have in Christ (the ultimate servant-warrior) with the lost.

And our common “enemy”? Ultimately the forces of darkness — both physical and spiritual — arrayed against us (as we know all-too-well, there is real evil in the world).

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With this study in mind, it is again with a “Code 3” (lights and siren) sense of urgency that I provide the ultimate “backup” by using this opportunity to remind my fellow servant-warriors that our service as cops — as servant-warriors — cannot save us. Rather, our Lord repeatedly and lovingly reminds us that unless we are  born again  into a genuine, life-saving/life-changing personal relationship with God in Christ, we will end up eternally lost and defeated.

Finally, let me say again that the power to successfully live out this kind of radical , ” ALL IN ” (last week’s study) faith is available ONLY to those who have been “born again” in Christ and thus have the Holy Spirit living inside them and empowering them (talk about radical). Say “yes” in repentance and faith to Christ as Lord and Savior.

Michael "MC" Williams is a 35-year law enforcement veteran who recently retired at the rank of Detective/Criminal Investigator. MC continues to write, train and present to law enforcement professionals and others around the country. He's the founder and director of the Centurion Law Enforcement Ministry (www.thecenturionlawenforcementministry.org).

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