Thoughts from Navy ODS: Frustration & Identity

It’s the halfway point in my 5 weeks here at Officer Development School. Here’s a status of how I’m feeling: tired, with a cough/cold/sore throat, and generally frustrated and unengaged. We’re in the classroom phase now, and we’re getting lectures on things I’ve already done in my previous service time. And, we’re getting “serious” room and uniform inspections that frankly, pale in comparison to what I experienced at the Naval Academy. So yeah, I’m having a serious case of “been there, done that” frustration.

That’s led me to really think about why I’m here; and what I’ve learned is that one, I’m not someone who can easily hide my temperament and feelings. Add that to being sick, my energy and enthusiasm are lacking. Yet, I know I’m still supposed to lead and set an example, both as a former naval officer who’s “been there, done that” and as the company’s assistant division officer.

So what does a guy do? I think it becomes a question not so much of hiding frustration from people, but rather, being able to put it in its proper place. For me, I think it’s ok that people see my frustration to a degree….that simply makes me human. I think it would be worse to have a false sense of positivity and optimism, acting as if everything is great. But my frustration cannot affect my performance. I still have to put forth the same effort as they are. I have to push though, even when I’m not feeling my best mentally, emotionally, and physically. I think for me, that’s the example to set….to put frustration in it’s proper place so one can continue to function. That’s leadership to me.

And that leads to the question of identity. We had lunch with the command chaplain on base here, who is also an ELCA-rostered and ordained pastor. He challenged me and the other two chaplains that our time here is about forming an identity – not just a pastoral one, but one as a Navy Chaplain as well. How comfortable are you at claiming and representing that cross insignia we wear on our collar? How confident are you in serving in that role, and do you feel called to it?

The question of identity is an important one….not only as a leader, but as one who ministers to people, whether a pastor or chaplain. It’s led me to focus less on my frustration, and really focus on caring for others who I know are probably experiencing the same frustration. It’s listening to them, and giving them space for their voice. Perhaps, it’s in understanding myself, I find that it’s likely others are feeling the same way too….and it’s from there, I both lead and care for others.

In a nutshell…..that’s ministry.


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Filed under Leadership, Navy Chaplaincy

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