Embracing Our Warrior-Ethos in an Age of Guardians

With the anti-law enforcement pundits, politicians and liberal media continuing to be engaged in what is essentially all-out warfare against the police, one of the most hotly debated  issues today is whether or not those of us serving in law enforcement are “warriors.” But what does that term mean? Are we warriors or guardians? Rather than entering into this “debate” (and with the understanding that this is “The Chaplain’s Corner”) from a philosophical or political perspective, I am instead going to stay true to my ministry calling by presenting the position of the ultimate “Warrior” (God Himself) as revealed His wholly sufficient and inerrant “policy and procedure manual” we call the Bible.

Where does the term “warrior” come from?  Well Scripture (ultimately undeniable evidence), of course! Here are just two brief examples:

Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle –Psalm 144:1

The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name. – Exodus 15:3

The pundits, or course, deny we’re at war while seeking to move us away from what they view as a “militarized” model of policing towards one of an emasculated “guardian.” But is that even a thing?

Part of the problem is that most today, especially those in the academia and the media, have never served in a combat military unit or taken on violent offenders as a sworn law enforcement officer (LEO). Fewer still understand the concept of evil or what it means to be what my friend Lt. Col. Dave Grossman terms a “sheepdog” and run to the sound of gunfire and chaos.

Perhaps the better question is this: Is being a warrior at odds with our modern  Peelian principles of policing ?  I don’t think so (stay with me)!
Anyone who follows my own teachings knows that I routinely add the biblical concept of being a “servant” to “warrior” (servant -warrior) and even “leader” (servant -leader). What then is our “servant-warrior” ethos? And should we embrace that ethos in this supposed age of “guardians” (a politically “correct” term I’m not even going to try to define)? Let’s break it down further by first defining our terms:

Ethos — The Oxford dictionary defines “ethos” as “the characteristic spirit of a community as revealed in its beliefs and aspirations.”

Warrior — Coming up with a clear, succinct definition for the term “warrior” can be elusive. Here’s what Steve Willis wrote about this concept: “The consummate warrior is defined by his indomitable spirit, fierce will, personal integrity, and a willing, vigorous dedication to whatever written or implied code(s) of conduct his government might place upon him in addition to his exceptional skill at arms.”  Is that not consistent with what we do as cops? I believe it most certainly is. The rarity of true warriors is not new.  On this, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote, “Of every 100 men, 10 shouldn’t even be there. 80 are nothing but targets, 9 are real fighters. We are lucky to have them, they make the battle. Ah, but ONE, one of them is a Warrior – he will bring the others back!”

Servant — In law enforcement, we routinely use phrases like “serve and protect.” What does that mean biblically?  The word servant in the Greek is diakonos.  We get the word “deacon” from that.  It has the same meaning as the word “minister” used by Paul in Romans 13:1-4 where he rightly calls us God’s “ministers for good and a terror against evil.”

Put these three terms together (servant-warrior ethos) and we come up with something like this: “The characteristic spirit of the community of those who are called to be servant-warriors as revealed in their beliefs and aspirations.” And to what should we aspire? Consider the following:

  1. To always place the mission first (with the “mission” being our summed up in our Law Enforcement Code of Ethics).
  2. To never accept defeat.
  3. To never quit.
  4. To never leave a fallen comrade.
  5. To always seek to serve others before our selves.

What then is our biblical police “mission ” — our Divine “call for service”? What sets us apart from what our foes would have folks think about being warriors?  LOVE! Love is the essence of all we do as servant-warriors (cops). With this concept in mind, consider the following 3 “briefing” points:

(1) I Will Love

Love God:  “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'” – Matthew 22:37

Love One Another: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. – John 15:13

(2) I Will Never Accept Quit or Accept Defeat

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

(3) I Will Serve

You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your servant; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve… –  Matthew 20:25-27 

In closing, I am led to share part of a poem written by Sensei Brannon Bain that sums all this up wonderfully:

I am a warrior.

The cause for which I fight is true and just. I stand in the path of my enemy, against the harm that would come to those I protect. I shall not waver.

I am a warrior. 

Though there are those that would condemn me, that I would take the life of my enemy to save that of another, I shall not waver. I do not regret the strength of my convictions.  

I am a warrior.  

The cause for which I fight is true and just. I shall not waver.

I am a warrior.


Rightly substituting the words “police officer” for “warrior” in that poem and we can do away with the whole “guardian” mess and wholly embrace our servant-warrior ethos. Let’s stay the course!

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