By Lieutenant Commander R. Kamille Williams, U.S. Navy | September 19, 2022
“I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.”
That is the last line of the Sailor’s Creed.
The word creed is from the Latin word credo which means “I believe.” The Sailor’s Creed is supposed to articulate what we believe as sailors. We are sailors first. We are not our racial, gender, or ethnic classification. We are sailors. Too many within the ranks hold onto their individual identities and tribes outside of the Navy. Even within the Navy, too many base their identity around their rating, community, and rank. There is not one cohesive sailor identity.
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Luke 14: 11
11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
If you’ve ever been on a ship, then you may know there is a space called the wardroom, or the officer’s mess. In the wardroom, typically there is one long table in the middle. On larger ships there may be smaller tables around the outskirts of the room. Also, typically there is reserved seating for the Captain and Executive Officer. To my knowledge, beyond the captain and executive officer, there is no assigned seating at the table. But there may be some unspoken assigned seats.
My first ship was the USS HARPERS FERRY, an amphibious ship. It can hold around 900 Sailors and Marines; therefore, the Wardroom was a pretty good size. It had a long center table and four side tables and even a lounge area in the front that could hold about 20 people. I was a Lieutenant while serving on the USS HARPERS FERRY, so when I ate in the wardroom, typically I sat at one of the outer tables because I felt like I could relax and be more myself. But occasionally I sat at the long table. But there were some officers who ONLY sat at the long table. They would NEVER sit at the outer tables.
Some officers would enter the wardroom and then about-face out when the long table was full, even though the outer tables were available. The food is going to taste the same! On the other hand, I have seen officers enter the wardroom and begrudgingly sit at the long table, because the outer tables were full. This thing goes both ways.
In Luke 7, Jesus was invited to dinner at the house of a religious leader. Some other prominent guests were there, as well. When they all began to sit down Jesus noticed how they all tried to sit in the places of honor. He then tells them a parable encouraging them not to take the place of honor lest they be humiliated by being asked to move so that someone else can sit there. Instead, they should sit in the lowest place so that they can be called up and honored in front of everyone. He ends the parable stating, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Jesus is trying to teach them humility. We cannot allow our egos to get so big that we think we always must be at the top of everything. It is not wrong to get awards and acknowledgments. But your motive should not be about recognition and prominence. Do things with unselfish motives and let the recognition be the byproduct.
Chaplain Kamille Williams