I remember as a kid watching the “old” western movies, specifically the ones that depicted settlers moving out west in large wagon trains blazing a trail to new lands and new opportunities. These wagon trains contained one’s entire family along with all their earthly belongings; after all, this was a one way trip. But what got my adolescent brain spinning was the men on lone horses, out in front of the wagon train. They would ride well ahead, sometimes miles, of the larger body with one purpose in mind…protect the community! They would ride their gallant steeds up steep hills and mountains just so they could scan the surroundings. What dangers were lying in wait for their families? Their neighbors? Were there wild animals? Roadside bandits? Sink holes? These men were Protectors! It was their job to scout ahead for possible dangers that could threaten their community of travelers and it was their job to be well aware of the types of enemies that they could potentially face. They had to have a plan to deal with them should the need arise.
Sun Tzu, in the timeless book, “The Art of War” writes, “Knowing the enemy enables you to take the offensive, knowing yourself enables you to stand on the defensive.”
To be a Protector in this modern age you must be aware of what dangers actually pose a threat to you and those around you. What threats actually have the potential to bring harm now? What behaviors are my family members engaging in that could lead to some pretty serious consequences? I fear that too many times we get side tracked with situations that are far off and mostly out of our control. For example, preparing for World War III. Is it a possibility? Yes! Is there anything I can do to prevent it? No! Does worrying about it aid me in protecting my teenage children from online dangers? Absolutely not! In a world full of danger we must focus on those threats that have the highest probability of impacting our lives.
And once we identify those threats we must learn everything we can about them. What are examples of some potential threats that we might make ourselves aware of today?
- What technology enables our youth to engage in risky behavior?
- What are the symptoms of a teenager experiencing severe bullying? Depression? Thoughts of suicide?
- What are types of addictive behavior?
These are just a few of the more likely scenarios that we could face in our lives.
Knowing the enemy enables you to take the offensive. If we can’t see what dangers lie ahead and understand the tactics used against us then we are constantly a reactionary force. The woman walking to her vehicle parked in a poorly lit parking lot, late at night with her head down reading missed texts and current news feeds becomes an easy target for those who would intend to do her harm. But the woman who strides with head up, eyes scanning her surroundings, and walking with a purpose tells others that she is someone who is aware, someone who will not be taken by surprise and is ready to respond to whatever situation she finds herself in. It’s called situational awareness!
But Sun Tzu goes on to say that, “Knowing yourself enables you to stand on the defensive.”
This sounds really familiar to me. The Apostle Paul wrote something similar in his day,
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-13
Knowing who you are, what you are about, and where you draw your strength from is critical in being prepared for adverse conditions in your life.
Some things you need to know about yourself BEFORE hard times come knocking on your door:
- Know what your principles are; those things you believe about the world around you and how you interact with it. These are things that you are completely unwilling to compromise.
- Know what you are capable of. Imagining what you’d LIKE to do and rehearsing what you could ACTUALLY do in any given situation is two completely different things. The world doesn’t need another super hero, it needs men and woman who have the desire AND ability to make a difference.
- Have compassion for people! The heart of a protector is always in the service of others. We have a vested interest in the wellbeing of those around us and our efforts in prevention, mitigation, and restoration could be what causes others to see their goals realized in their own lives.
By Timothy McLeod