There's something about the military that instills a person with a sense of duty. Maybe it's that initial entry into military life - when a person is trying to figure out what's going on, how to cope, how to survive. That previous civilian life is quickly forgotten, and honor and duty become "just what you do."
Our recent sermons at church have focused on society's view of "living for self-fulfillment" vs the Christian's view of living for God. As I listen to the sermons, I hear and I know that "living for self" isn't really fulfilling. No matter what society is saying or doing, the focus on pleasure, success, popularity...the idea that it's "all about me" just doesn't last and doesn't meet the deep need that each person has.
One of the most fulfilling positions I had as a Marine was as a series commander, "running series" at Parris Island. For each series, I had 8 drill instructors and about 120 recruits, and I was charged with overseeing the recruits' training. "Running series" was a headache - long hours, time crunch issues...and always dealing with some unexpected crisis.
As a new series would start I'd think, "I can't believe I'm doing this again."
On the afternoon of recruit pick-up, when I would introduce myself and my drill instructors to the new recruits...I had tunnel vision. I would envision graduation day, three months later, when I'd stand on that parade deck and give the final command, "Senior Drill Instructors, dismiss your platoons."
My goal for each series was to keep the drill instructors on track and out of trouble, to get those recruits to graduation, and to do it all as smoothly as possible. Inevitably, stuff happened. I never heard "Good job" but often heard "You got written up."
But there was something about that moment on the parade deck...seeing those recruits become Marines...when all the work was done, after giving your all...something about not living for self, but "spending yourself" for others...that moment was satisfying.
"Running the Christian life" is not unlike "running series." The Christian life, no matter one's vocation, is a life of sacrifice, love, and service to others - including family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. It's not about "what's in it for me" or "who I can become."
As a Christian, I know that Jesus came, loved, served, and sacrificed for me. The "for me" part is done - I don't have to worry about it. I'm free to not think about me, and free to serve others...for God's glory and His kingdom.
Like "running series" it's not easy. But the Christian's impact is far greater - the care of eternal souls. And it's satisfying because it's His work.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10