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Focus on helping others

By Thurman Hayes

Those of us who live in Coastal Virginia are aware — or at least we should be — that we have one of the world’s most elite fighting units training and living among us. That would be the Navy SEALs.

We should be thankful for these special operators, who are sent around the globe to put themselves in harm’s way. Of course, that applies to all of our nation’s military. We should live in a spirit of continual thanksgiving for them.

When it comes to the SEALs, only a tiny percentage of those who seek to be SEAL actually become one. First, they have to make it through BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) training for a grueling six months. This tryout/training time attracts incredibly athletic guys, many of them former high school football stars or swimming stars or track stars. They tend to be in great condition before they start the training. But only 10 to 20 percent of them make it through BUD/S. The peak time of pain in BUD/S is called “Hell Week.” This is a time when many drop out.

Eric Greitens is a former SEAL. He wrote this in the Wall Street Journal: “What kind of man makes it through Hell Week? That’s hard to say. But I do know — generally — who won’t make it. There are a dozen types that fail: the weight-lifting meatheads who think the size of their biceps is an indication of their strength … the preening leaders who don’t want to get dirty, and the look-at-me former athletes who have always been told they are the stars … In short, those who fail are the ones who focus on the show.”

Do you hear what Greitens is saying here? Looks can be deceiving. He goes on: “Some men who seemed impossibly weak at the beginning of SEAL training — men who puked on runs and had trouble with pull-ups — made it. Some who were skinny and short and whose teeth chattered just looking at the ocean also made it. Some who were visibly afraid, sometimes to the point of shaking, made it too.”

What gives? Is there a common denominator for those who pass SEAL training? Yes, according to Greitens: “Almost all the men who survived possessed one common quality. Even in great pain, they had the ability to step outside of their own pain, put aside their own fear and ask: How can I help the guy next to me? They had more than the fist of courage and physical strength. They also had a heart large enough to think about others, to dedicate themselves to a higher purpose.”

What a lesson for all of us! God uses people who break out of the self-focused narcissism of our culture, and who focus on helping others. He uses those who are looking up to Him in faith and out to others in love. The self-focused navel-gazers aren’t of very much use in the Kingdom.

As Jesus told his disciples, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of people.” To be greatly used by the Lord, we must think of His glory and the good of others.

As believers, we are special operators who have been dropped behind enemy lines in this fallen world. There are people to be rescued. Let’s focus on our Captain and those He calls us to reach.
Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr. is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.