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- Any service member or dependent at JBER who thinks they might have COVID symptoms should call the 673d MDG COVID-19 hotline at 907-580-2778, option 1.
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Chaplain's Corner: Blessed to be a blessing and paying it forward

By Air Force Chaplain (Capt.) Brian Musselman | JBER Chaplain | April 21, 2016


The "Chaplain's Corner" offers perspectives to enhance spiritual/religious resiliency in support of Air Force and Army Comprehensive Fitness programs.

Comments regarding specific beliefs, practices, or behaviors are strictly those of the author and do not convey  endorsement by the U.S. government, the Department of Defense, the Army, the Air Force, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, or the 673d Air Base Wing.

"A life lived for others, is the only life worth living," said Albert Einstein. The apostle Paul wrote "don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too."

When I consider these quotes and others like it, I am reminded of a movie released in 2000 called "Pay It Forward." The whole concept of this movie is transformative, causing one to think about noticing the good you've been blessed with (e.g. longevity in marriage, promotion, financial satisfaction) and using that good to bless others. It is as if a person has been blessed in order to be a blessing.

Here's what I mean: the good that has happened in my life, as I see it from my Christian worldview, is not something solely for my benefit I can use my experiences (good and bad) in order to help others. Because my family experienced the death of our golden retriever three and half years ago, I feel I can empathize with others who have lost a pet. Another example is that nearly ten years ago, my family needed money in order to make ends meet as I was in-between jobs and hadn't yet entered the military. We prayed about this need and shared it with some of our closest friends from church. We arrived home one evening after this to find a thousand-dollar check in our mailbox. It was an anonymous gift. (Rest assured...there's no guarantee I can give anyone that praying for a financial need automatically results in receiving a check in the mail). Because of the blessing this was to my family, we have been able to be a blessing to others in need and 'pay it forward.'

The Contemporary Family Worship Service, just one of JBER's seven chapel services on Sundays, recently started preaching through the following theme: "Being an Encouraging Presence." The theme addresses ways in which we can be an encouragement to others in times of great stress and tumult, such as death, loss of a job, financial problems, or broken relationships. The pastoral team of this particular service - of which I am a part - have shared experiences where we have been recipients of this care, but more about how we've learned to be givers of this type of care. As I consider this fact, the two go hand in hand. For example, I have been personally comforted; therefore I can provide to others this same sort to comfort. In other words, I have been blessed; therefore I can be a blessing to others.

Jesus told his disciples to go and prepare Passover, for little did his followers truly believe, this would be his last supper with them. As Jesus reclined at the Passover table, several disciples began disputing between one another, reaching for an edge over one another trying to gain the 'highest' hierarchical position. Jesus quickly deflated this escalating debate by comparing his followers to the cultural norms of the day, stating that those that seek to follow after him are to be different. Don't seek positions and titles, prestige and power, or popularity and recognition. Ironically, Jesus says seek to serve others rather than to be the one being served. In one point of this story (found in its entirety in Luke 22:7:38), Jesus encourages and empowers Peter to follow in what Jesus is saying and after he does so, he is to then strengthen his brothers. Peter received the blessing of Jesus' words to turn away from his hierarchical thinking to a much bigger way of thinking - go and serve others. John Piper said it best regarding this passage - "The strengthened becomes the strengthener."

What are the blessings in your life? Are you looking for more? Or, have you received and rested in the acknowledgement of those blessings only to feel compelled to give back, serve others, and take the position of a strengthener?  

God does not intend to give to me in order that I would be content and/or greedy with his giving.  That's just selfish. "Giving" by its very nature is a gift, where I can pay it forward, strengthen others and comfort others with the same comfort that I have been given. Without a doubt, it is far more blessed to give than it is to receive.