“Intimidation Factor:” Lessons from a USMC Colonial

It’s been awhile since I’ve contributed anything to this, my personal blog lately.  Since my return from Navy Chaplain’s School in July, life in the parish, a new Reserve Unit assignment, and figuring out new directions and focus for the fall has kept be pretty busy.  I’m lucky if I can get my sermons posted on our congregations’ blog before Monday.

I’ve been thinking a lot – wrestling with it really – about personal and professional challenges and how we deal with them.  I’ve been struggling a lot with doing the right thing in the face of knowing it’s gonna cause some personal pain and discomfort on my part.  I’m not going to make a whole lot of friends.  I won’t have the luxury of playing it safe.

As tough as I like to present myself, when it comes down to it – the task ahead – it just seems downright intimidating.  And then I recall some words I heard this summer:

“Intimidation is something you let happen to yourself.”

A Marine Corps Colonial I came across this summer offered these words to us.  It was a response to a question asked by someone in the group I was with.  He wasn’t being harsh or critical, but like Marines do, he offered a direct answer, and his point was this: self-marginalization, intimidation, isn’t something someone imposes on you.  It’s your reaction to an experience….a choice.  One chooses to be intimidated.

I think this changes our mindset.  We’re not passive recipients – human punching bags – in life.  We’re not victims.  We actually have agency over our own lives.  I totally get the fact that there are institutions and people who limit what we’re able to do or say.  Power is imposed on people in such a way that marginalization does happen.  But I think we’re overly sensitive when it comes to this….we default to thinking we’re victims to such a system when the truth is, we actually can do something about it – if we wouldn’t give in to be intimidated.  If we wouldn’t give in to the fear of failure.  If we wouldn’t give into the lie that thin affirmations and results don’t define our self-worth.

I guess I wonder: if we chose not to be intimidated, what could we accomplish?  Would we be better leaders?  How might that change our outlook on our lives?  How might that change our relationships?  How might that change us?

To be sure, not giving into intimidation is the life-long struggle….but it’s the right thing to do.  It’s a battle worth fighting, something worth wrestling with.


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