Glorifying God, Honoring Airmen, Serving All

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jeffrey L. Neuberger
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing chaplain
The vision statement of the U.S. Air Force Chaplain Service is expressed in six simple words, characterized by three short phrases: Glorifying God, Honoring Airmen, Serving All.

One can appreciate the brevity and depth of these few words.

"Glorifying God" speaks of the free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution and reminds us the Chaplain Service offers opportunities for worship.

"Serving All" reminds us it is the duty of the Chaplain Service to care for and serve everyone regardless of affiliation.

What about the phrase "Honoring Airmen?" My first thoughts turn to those moments when an Airman has fallen and a chaplain is called in to provide guidance and possibly conduct a memorial service.

But there's another kind of honor. I've been surprised recently by the words of appreciation I've received from non-military personnel when wearing my uniform. On several occasions I have been personally thanked by a stranger (both times while in a grocery store) for my service. In those simple words of appreciation I felt honored - honored to serve and honored to be recognized for that service. It was also a bit humbling.

I'd like to share an amazing story from the Old Testament of the Bible which remarkably captures the notion of commitment, honor and appreciation.

The story comes from Second Samuel, chapter 23. David, King of Israel, has been at war with the Philistines for quite some time. He is hiding out in a cave near Bethlehem, his home town, where the Philistines have set up a base camp. Sitting in the cave, he remarks how he would love to have a drink from the well at the gate of the city. Hearing this, three of David's "mighty men" decide to conduct a clandestine raid. They penetrated enemy lines, drew the water, and took the prized gift to the King. David could have enjoyed exactly what he had asked for; instead, realizing they risked their lives, he honored their action by pouring the water on the ground as an offering to God.

On first reading I had to scratch my head. What good did it do to pour on the ground that for which these three risked their lives? They wanted to honor their leader with a special gift of fresh water. The gift, as King David saw it, was the dedication and commitment the three had for their leader.

They honored him with a risky plan; he honored them with a simple act.

What meaning do I draw from this story? Quite simply that we can pour ourselves out for others in simple acts of appreciation every day, adding meaning and value to our lives.