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Called to be Different

Briefing: What makes a law enforcement officer different from a banker or a train conductor? Do LEO’s have a different type of lifestyle?

Dispatch (Assignment): What does your agency’s Code of Conduct say about the way you are expected to act when you are not on duty? Does your department have a Code of Ethics? If so, does it spell out your agency’s expectations as to how you conduct your business when off duty?

On the Street: “Called to be different” is not a term most law enforcement use in their normal vocabulary. We may not use the term but we are certainly familiar with the concept. Law enforcement personnel live lives that are different from most of our family, friends, and neighbors. Our circle of friends and acquaintances is usually very exclusive and small. Members of the law enforcement community have their own language, behaviors, mannerisms, and thought processes. We also believe strongly that we have a specific calling to the law enforcement field. This is what it means when you are called to be different.

The Christian community is more familiar with this term. We know that we are called to be different because God’s Word tells us. Called to be different for a Christian is both similar and different from law enforcement’s call.

Some similarities between the two are; righteousness, truthfulness, integrity, and work ethic just to name a few. Law enforcement officers live out this lifestyle because of the earthly career they have chosen. Christians, on the other hand, live out this lifestyle to obey and glorify God.

Christianity takes it a step further. God’s people are called to be a holy priesthood. Love is the defining characteristic of a true Christian. As a police officer for more than 20 years, I have never been called to show love to anyone, as a requirement of my job.

The further I get in my journey as a Christian and a police officer the more similarities I see between the two. This career points to humanities’ need for relationship with their God. I see people who are hurting and looking for someone or something to come into their life and lead them to peace, hope, order, and love. God does all of that, unfortunately law enforcement agencies don’t want us ministering to people.

I have a good friend in professional ministry who often tells me, I wish I could meet people like you meet them, broken, hurt, or in trouble. This is where and when people need someone to share and minister to them. Professional ministry people don’t usually get this opportunity.

Being called to be different for a law enforcement officer is good. The problem is it is only good for your earthly calling. Living a life that is called to be different for Christ covers both the earthly calling and the heavenly calling.

If you are unsure what called to be different for a Christ follower looks like, Proverbs has examples:

Proverbs 19:11 (NIV), “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” Patience and the ability to not be offended are obvious ways to live a life different from those around you. I don’t know too many people who are un-offendable but when I see someone who is, it is obvious that they are different.

Proverbs 20:1 (NIV), “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” Drinking to excess; I don’t need to say anything else.

Proverbs 21:29 (NIV), “The wicked put up a bold front, but the upright give thought to their ways.” A favorite non-Biblical saying of mine is, “Remember to dig deep when interviewing someone. Just as a wise man can say something foolish, a fool can say something wise once in a while.”

Proverbs 23:17 (NIV), “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.” If this is not a verse about living differently, then I don’t know what is.

Proverbs 24:11 (NIV), “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.” This is a verse that convicts me! Like a friend said, law enforcement officers get a chance to minister to people when they most need it. We have a chance to meet and minister to them when no one else can or will. ? We arrested a soldier tonight. He was extremely intoxicated and suffering from PTSD. He was telling everyone who was in hearing distance about all the people he had seen killed in Afghanistan. We tried to help him out but he was too drunk. As we walked to the patrol car I prayed for him. He became very angry and yelled, “I don’t believe in God!” He is 20 years old. Father, I pray for Joseph. I ask that you give him an extra measure of love and mercy. I pray for his salvation.

Proverbs 24:29 (NIV), “Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me; I’ll pay them back for what they did.” This is retaliation. Vengeance is mine says the Lord. The world may want their pound of flesh but we are called to be different.

Proverbs 25:19 (NIV), “Like a broken tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble.” On whom do you rely? Our hope is in the Lord. He is our strength and our salvation, an ever present help in time of need. That sets us apart from the world.

Proverbs 25:21-22 (NIV), “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” Jesus tells us to love for our enemies and pray for those who curse us. That makes us different from non-believers.

Proverbs 25:26 (NIV), “Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked.” Do not be weak, Jesus was not weak, He was meek. Meekness is strength under control. “Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Proverbs 27:2 (NIV), “Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.” This world says you have to self-promote to get ahead. Micah 6:8 (NKJV) says, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Be humble; that is not a character trait of this world.

Proverbs 28:11 (NIV), “The rich are wise in their own eyes; one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are.” The rich put too much faith and stock in the money they have made. True riches are stored up in heaven. This too is different from the world.

Proverbs 29:10-11 (NIV), “The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity and seek to kill the upright. Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.” John described it best in John 1:1-13 (HCSB). Verses 1-5 say, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created. Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.”

John 1:6-7 (HCSB), “There was a man named John who was sent from God. He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that all might believe through him.”

John 1:9-13 (HCSB), “The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not recognize Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.”

Proverbs 29:25 (NIV), “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Do not fear someone who can just kill the body, fear the One who can kill the body and the soul. That is God, although His desire is for you to come to know and trust Him.

Proverbs 30:7-9 (NIV), “Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” Trust that God has your best interest at heart. Don’t follow after the carrots of this world only to fall into a pit you did not see coming. Be different from the world.

Investigational Resources: Philippians 3:7-10, Daniel 12:3

Officer Safety Principle: Be a person who lives a lifestyle that is called to be different for Christ.

from The Book of Proverbs Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
Click here to check out the entire Through the Eyes of a Cop series!