I have seen both sides. When I first started my civilian government job, most of my peers were reluctant to teach me any of their responsibilities. They knew they had a niche and wanted their position to remain relevant and maintain their status as a crucial element in the organization. In other words, they were reluctant to teach me aspects of their occupation because they wanted job security… which is absurd. After all, it is almost impossible to fire a federal employee. Yet, they were stuck in the mindset of withholding or reserving information so that they were irreplaceable.

There was a markedly different atmosphere within military circles. Due to the dynamic nature of the military, the turnover rate is significantly higher. Most organizations adhere to the “Next Man Up” approach, a mentality that empowers individuals to learn the responsibilities, duties, and skills of the person two levels above them in leadership. This approach instills a sense of capability and readiness, as it implies that you will be the next person in a certain situation at some point, and that you should prepare for it and believe in yourself for when that transition inevitably happens.

There are many reasons for these two vastly different approaches to roles and responsibilities. Each position or location in the military is temporary and unpredictable; you never plan for longevity, only accomplishing the mission. In the civilian world, most desire stability and permanence; people want to set down roots for 20-30 years until they can retire. Maintaining a position for any length of time requires one word: comfort. If you are uncomfortable, you will quickly move. Therefore, of these two mindsets, one prioritizes mission, and the other prioritizes comfort.

What should our mentality be as Christ-followers? 2 Corinthians 4:7- 18 informs us how temporary or transient our position is in this world and that we should prepare for something greater. We have missed the point if we are focused solely on the comfort we can attain in this short and passing time. Training or discipling, others is the purpose of the Great Commission, you want to create disciples, you want someone to replace you. You don’t want to hold onto the position that you have indefinitely; you want to grow and move forward. Too many people are content in their comfortable roles and never see a need to move up.

The changeover rate in the military is understandably high. Organizations constantly change; people relocate, deploy, separate, and retire. In the field, people can become unfit for service in many ways, and their positions will need to be filled for the mission to continue. Conflict’s very nature means you will lose teammates along the way. Ephesians 6 and John’s Revelation confirm that we are also at war. A great battle rages around us, and we will lose traveling companions along the way. The question is not “if” or “when,” but how will we replace them?

Perhaps the most profound realization we can have is that the Kingdom is bigger than us. We are all temporary, but the church will endure (Matthew 16:18). Therefore, our mission should be to train our replacements. If we are not training others (discipling), we are failing the mission and the Great Commission. We should also be actively seeking who we can replace and if we are capable of doing so. This commitment to training replacements is a testament to our dedication and faith in the mission.

You will be replaced. You will replace someone.
We all must ask the question about what comes Next.

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