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Commitment to Excellence and the Fair Treatment of All

Commitment to Excellence and the Fair Treatment of All

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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We cannot allow our egos to get so big that we think we always must be at the top of everything – September 2022

We cannot allow our egos to get so big that we think we always must be at the top of everything – September 2022

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

SPEAKING GOD’S LOVE THROUGH OUR WORDS

SPEAKING GOD’S LOVE THROUGH OUR WORDS

Proverbs 18:21 (English Standard Version)

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

Parents and guardians have the crucial responsibility of being the first prophets in the lives of children, especially in this age of social media where there are influences coming from every direction. Building a child up must start at home. What are we prophesying over our children? Are we building them up or are we tearing them down? Are we speaking life or death over our children? Parents must be the first ones to speak positive words of affirmation over their children or else they will go out into the world seeking validation from people who may not have their best interests at heart.

We casually say, “Have a blessed day.”  But I wonder if we grasp the importance of what it means to bless someone. Blessings were important in the Bible. In the Bible it is common for the parents to speak blessings over their children. The greatest patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all blessed their children. “To be blessed” meant ‘to be favored by God’…Thus to express a blessing is like bestowing a wish on someone that they will experience the favor of God.”[1] So when you tell someone to have a blessed day, you are really telling them that you want them to experience the favor of God during their day.

In the Bible, when parents bless their children, they are speaking God’s favor over their lives. These blessings chart the course for their children’s lives. These parents knew what world they were sending their children into. They knew the world could be rough and is filled with many negative influences. Therefore, parents made sure that they had the greatest influence over their children. Their children knew who they were, who they were descended from, and who they were destined to be so that they could lead successful lives.

But not only were these parents speaking God’s favor over these children, they were instilling a warrior mentality in them as well as holding them accountable for their actions. One of the most prominent blessings is in Genesis 49 when Jacob blessed his 12 sons:

“All these were the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.”[2]

Jacob was very specific to each son giving each a custom blessing. And each son went on to fulfill the destiny spoken over them by their father.

There are hurting people out there who need someone to prophesy good things over them. Your words could change the entire direction of someone’s life. Speak life today. Prophesy over someone. You never know, God could be using you to change the entire trajectory of someone else’s life.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blessing

[2] Genesis 49:28

A corrupt throne would issue laws (decrees) that would bring misery rather than joy. May 2022

A corrupt throne would issue laws (decrees) that would bring misery rather than joy. May 2022

Chaplain Corner Article

 “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, your comforts delights my soul.”- Psalm 94:19

The Psalmist in this text is having a hard time dealing with how the world is evolving. He sees the wicked increase in power and no harm seems to come to them regardless of how they live their lives. It appears as if they can have a disregard for human decency, morals, and seeking God without any repercussions.

He begins to lament out of frustration. He abides by the laws, customs, and traditions. He is an excellent human and treats others well. Yet, he and others (the righteous) who choose to do what is right, even when no one is looking, always get the short end of the stick. The Psalmist continues to address the corrupt King and government and the lack of lawlessness in the land. A corrupt throne would issue laws (decrees) that would bring misery rather than joy. Such laws would give an opportunity to the wicked while suppressing the righteous. Even with all the chaos in the world, the Psalmist says first, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. Then, “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, your comforts delights my soul.”- Psalm 94:18-19

The Psalmist understands that because of who he has faith in and who God has been in the past, he can rest assured that even when he feels like he cannot make it another step and seems anxious over life, he is never alone. God is there to comfort him and walk with him even in his darkest times.

I think there is so much we can learn from the Psalm because while some things in history change, others remain the same. Most of us can probably identify with the Psalmist’s lament as what we see in our current society resembles Psalm 94. But, like the Psalmist, we can rest assured that we are never alone, and even when we feel unsure about life, there is someone ready to listen. Of course, we first have God to comfort us. God promised never to leave us nor forsake us. If we continue to keep our hope, confidence, and trust in God.

Second, we have our village. Whether it is our fellow service members, family, or friends, there is support to carry us through the difficult times. However, we must remember to remain true to our character and integrity, for, in the end, we shall see the fruit of faith. God is with us. Emmanuel.

Blessings,

Reverend Takana L. Jefferson United States Navy Chaplain

A corrupt throne would issue laws (decrees) that would bring misery rather than joy. May 2022

My actions and gifts come from a place of genuine sincerity. – April 2022

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:1-4

In the above scripture text, Jesus is teaching the multitude that sat before him. He is concerned with the way people are being consumed with announcing every good deed they would do for those in need. The focus was not to take care of those in need but to gain recognition and acknowledgment from their esteemed peers. In one translation, Jesus used the term hypocrite. A hypocrite originally was an actor who wore a mask in a Greek play, thereby pretending he was something he was not (they were always males).    He told the people not to be like the hypocrite but to be humble and not tell others what they were doing for those in need. But allow God to reward them for their good deeds.

I believe the lesson is applicable today, even if one is not of the Christian Faith. In a society where every action and a good deed is on social media for likes and acknowledgment, we too can be consumed in desiring the praise and acceptance of others. Instead, we must take an internal inventory of why we are doing what we are doing. Are we sharing the information to gain support and encourage others to help those in need? Or are we sharing to receive our reward from others and not God?

I, too, struggle with ensuring my heart is in the right place when doing for others and that I am not doing something to receive praise from my peers. Instead, my actions and gifts come from a place of genuine sincerity of wanting to do “what is right.”  Being authentic and humble is still popular in a world that can sometimes seem otherwise.

Blessings,

Reverend Takana L. Jefferson, LCDR, United States Navy Chaplain

A corrupt throne would issue laws (decrees) that would bring misery rather than joy. May 2022

We have the shoulders of giants to stand on, such as Rosa Parks, RADM Grace Murray Hopper…March 2022

“And if I perish, I perish.”- Esther 4:16

Queen Esther is one of the many women who sacrificed, spoke truth to power, and made a difference in the male-dominated world during biblical times. Her Uncle Mordica challenged Queen Esther to save her people when their lives were threatened by self-serving Hamen. Hamen wanted to lead the royal court and be revered by the King by any means necessary. However, he had one problem standing in his way, which was Mordica. The only way to get rid of Mordica was to get rid of all the Jews. Fortunately, Mordica finds out about a plan that Hamen had created to present to the King that called for the complete decimation of all Jews, including Queen Esther.

The closest person to the King is the Queen. So, Mordica goes to Queen Esther and asks her to speak to the King to save herself and her people. However, the Queen is not feeling this because it means she could very well lose her life speaking on such matters. After much coercing and prayerful thought, she agrees to talk with the King. She provides specific directions to Mordica, which she concludes, “and if I perish, I perish.” However, she did not perish. She saved her people. Hamen was held accountable for his egregious actions. She proves to be a woman of much strength and courage.

Women have made significant contributions to our history and our military. In honor of  Women’s history month, I pray women continue to lead, speak truth to power, and mentor tomorrow’s leaders. We have the shoulders of giants to stand on, such as Rosa Parks, RADM Grace Murray Hopper, LTJG Harriet Ida Pickett, Ms. Olivia J. Hooker, LT Vivian McFadden, and Ms. Annie M. Grahams. Because of them, we have VADM Michelle Howard, Brigadier General Lorna Mahlock, RADM Lillian Fishburn, Vice President Kamala Harris, and many more. So let us stand firm and allow our voices and visions to be heard and seen.

Blessings,

Reverend Takana L. Jefferson, Chaplain, United States Navy