Leadership: A word from Mennonite Church USA leadersby Glen Guyton
As I stood on the deck of the now retired USS Lexington in the bay of Corpus Christi, Texas, with my 10-year-old son, I was in awe of the power and human ingenuity that this World War II-era Essex-class aircraft carrier represented.
At the same time, my gut wrenched as I thought about its former mission; the Blue Ghost, as the USS Lexington was called by the Japanese, was meant to demoralize the Japanese. The aircraft carrier is a prodigious show of force of the U.S. military, which I used to be part of. Now, as I stood on the deck with the wind and salt water blowing in my face, I faced a dilemma: How would I explain all this to my son?
I am a true Anabaptist. Truer than I ever thought I’d be. After running into men such as Bishop Leslie Francisco III and Titus Peachey and learning about the former Mennonite Church, I was rebaptized as an adult and eventually left the military as a conscientious objector. But I was a trained airman, a military officer. I knew more about the art of war than the art of peace. While some were drilled in Scriptures from the Sermon on the Mount, I was drilled in quotes to justify war, such as this one from John Stuart Mills: “War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”
So here I stood, some 18 years after finding the Mennonites, realizing that I am compelled to teach my son a Third Way. I have to share with him the truth and consequences of war and what happens when metal and fire rip through flesh. I have to share with him that while both Lee Greenwood and I are “proud to be an American,” God does not bless only the USA; the peace of God can reign in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan as well. I have to share with him that people across the pond love their families just as much as we do and that after the military bombardment stops, after the planes have all been grounded and after the troops have all gone home, someone still has to work at bringing peace and order to the destruction that is left behind. War has many victims, on both ends of the spear.
What is the leadership lesson here, other than the obvious lesson of teaching faith to our children? The lesson I learned is that something wonderful and humbling occurs when your faith comes to life, when as a leader what you have been preaching begins to intersect with how you are living.
“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” (1 Peter 1:6-7, NLT).
Seeing the world through the eyes of my children has helped me be true to my faith. Now, more than ever, my life is my witness, and I have to help my children filter the messages and propaganda of this world through a different lens. I can be open and honest with my son and let him know that while I have been shaped and molded by Anabaptist theology and am true to the theology of peace, I am still on the journey. Yet I know that Anabaptism is a legacy/heritage I can pass on to my children, no matter what our last name or genealogy may be. Anyone can learn to fight for peace.
- Full circle
- The juvenilization of American Christianity
- Untamed tiger
- Christian patriots
- Who can stand against it?
- Simplistic gospel
- Never again
News stories, digests and Meno Acontecer
- Geiser, partner killed in Afghanistan
- Michelle Armster on leadership, women and the church
- Phoenix 2013 less than one year away
- Theology and new social media
- Ash Creek Fire on Northern Cheyenne Reservation largely ignored
- WDC amends one resolution, tables another
- Survey shows Mennonite Church USA spread
- Wildfires near churches in Colorado, Montana
- Phoenix police chief responds to Supreme Court decision
- NEWS ANALYSIS: How are we doing as a peace church?
- Church gets surgery for woman with mouth tumor
- Feeding cattle for the church
- MDS ends seven-year recovery effort in New Orleans
- MWC looks for clarity about Anabaptist vision
- AMBS and Bethel complete graduations
- Pastoring in dangerous Bogotá neighborhood
- Lancaster, Pa., pilgrims visit Israel
- Swiss Anabaptist history still powerful
- ¡Bienvenidos al Meno Acontecer de Julio, 2012!
- Opciones y desafíos
- Graduaciones Garífunas de IBA
- Ahora, IBA en Colorado Springs
- IMH, Recursos para su iglesia
- Estudios Bíblicos para Adultos
- Everence comunica
- Servicio gratuito de consejería sobre deudas
- Del Dr. Nuñez: AFECCIONES DIGESTIVAS ...
- Signposts: A diverse community
- Politics on Palm Sunday and today
- Menno warrior
- Books for instruction and inspiration
- Let's engage Love Wins wisely
- In praise of translators
- A balance of authority
- Loneliness and solitude
- July 2012 reviews
- Resources - July 2012
- Need nonconformity
- Tillie Yoder Nauraine
- Tillie Yoder Nauraine observations
- Handling divorce
- Sowing doubts about Confession