A special thanks to Blue Shepard for allowing me to publish his weekly e-newsletter here on Vigilant Wolf. The Blue Shepard is a friend and past guest of Ever Vigilant podcast (episode 43). I personally look forward to his weekly thoughts on Christianity, Manhood, and Brotherhood and I believe you will feel the same.
Sifu: The importance of discipleship in matters both spiritual and natural
He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. Proverbs 13:20
It was a frigid fall night as we all traveled in caravan to the Gigglin' Pig, an abandoned building in Smalltown NC. My teen heart and Ford engine raced as I did my best to keep up with the Crown Victoria squad car ahead of me without appearing reckless nor slack. My palms were sweating and it hadn't even began. We arrived, unlocked a padlock, let the chain fall and went through the groaning double doors. All of those boots pounding up the steps gave a deafening introduction to the musty old establishment. When we arrived upstairs the weapons were passed out. "Everybody load up, and be quick!" barked Sargent Byrd. I was passed a few empty magazines. I could now feel my heart pounding in my head as my shivering, numb fingers fumbled the projectiles into the magazines. The light from the street lamps outside did it's best to permeate the blown glass windows, but the pervasive darkness inside seemed to be holding it back like a dam. It was cold, but my face felt like it had just been broiled. A metallic "tink" and a mechanical "scrak" were preludes to a sudden flood of dancing shadows. Miss Carter drew the flames into her cigarette, exhaled a plume of pungent smoke, and with another "tink" the dancing ceased. She walked over to me, and with breath so intense my eyes began to water, cigarette still dangling from her chapped lips, and with a thick southern accent she half whispered, "You're 'bout to see these fools go crazy." Her statement was immediately followed by crude remarks and wicked chuckles around the room. Then came the orders from Captain Warren, "Alright everybody, holster your weapons and get ready." Then Sargent Byrd thundered, "FIRETEAM, STACK ON THAT DOOR." Three cadets lined up in tactical formation and prepared for entry. They drew their weapons and began to give verbal challenges to anyone inside the room. The only reply was an ominous, howling wind and the moans of the ancient frame as it bore our shifting weights. The front man called out, "FIRETEAM READY?" Each member silently signaled that they were prepared. A momentary silence that seemed like hours ensued, but was suddenly shattered by, "GO! GO! GO!". By the time the first boot had breached the plane of the door frame, shots were being fired. The front man began to fall back as he took three to the pelvis, while the second and third forced by him in deadlocked determination to engage the shooter. Shrieks of, "POLICE!" "GUN!" "HANDS UP!" "HE'S GOT A - SHOTS FIRED- AAAHH! I'M HIT! I'M HIT" pierced the awkward darkness as loud cracks could be heard, comparable in frequency to speeding down a bumpy road, as many projectiles found their missed marks in some wall or piece of furniture. The entire exchange of fire could not have lasted more than seven seconds, ending with two cadets and one suspect down, and one cadet remaining performing mock detainment, triage, and trauma aid. I remained just outside, wishing desperately that I was not just a bystander. These were teen boys and girls, some younger than I. I knew in that moment that this was exactly what I wanted to be: A Law Enforcement Explorer. As crusty, seasoned police officers stood around and chuckled, I struggled to hide my excitement behind a cocky Cheshire grin.
Being home-schooled on the farm since day one, I had never been around a lot of alphas. I didn't even know what an alpha was. But there found I myself, quivering in nervousness, surrounded by elites and knights. Airsoft was not new to me and neither were room clearing or the "violence of action" mindset. But nothing in my life had prepared me for what was sending chills down my spine: the visage of dominance.
I knew what it meant to submit myself to a master (aside from my parents and my employer). I had learned this in church since infancy, and training one-on-one in martial arts for the past two years (to my Sifu). When I joined the Police Explorers at age 16 I stepped into an entirely different world. Little did I know that the man in the attached newspaper clipping and the sides of life to which he would expose me would dramatically remold my habits, confidence, and state of mind.
Meeting "Kevin" (attached), he seemed jolly but slightly morbid; the kind of guy who would easily get along with a crowd of school children, then suddenly crack some dark humor about a horrific tragedy he had witnessed days or hours before. The more time I spent with him the more I saw how easily he could transition between the two modes. He was in no way disrespectful. It was his, as with most men who must address the darker side of humanity, method of coping. He knew how to flip the switch - both ways. He was no meathead, and did not have a fierce stature, but many men have been fooled by his appearance. His bark was fierce, and his bite much worse. He was the first true sheepdog I had ever met.
At times he was hard. He needed to be. We were spoiled kids who thought we might kinda sorta want to be warriors one day. From that first meeting where he was a reserved (not timid in the slightest) but confident and professional man; to a dank basement with air guns, a trapped comrade mere feet away, blood running down my stinging chest and arms and hands, hiding behind a stairwell as he was ripping the dead flashlight from my mindless hands in pitch black darkness, and shoving me forward out into open fire, his hot breath and spittle prickling my neck as he was screaming in my ears to the point of ringing, "STAY IN THE FIGHT, BOY!" Then we would ride for hours on the beat, and even in his personal time, as he talked about life lessons, morality, preparedness, end time prophecies, and relationship philosophies. He did not take his badge lightly. He was determined to see justice, even if not in the immediate future. When he grabbed a man, his hands made no uncertain declaration. He grabbed men like he was stripping their God-given freedoms away.
Beginning at age 16, I spent six years with him one-on-one - partly as a Police Explorer, from Patrolman up to Captain and beyond graduation, but mostly following him in my spare time, starving for any crumble of knowledge or experience that fell from his glorious horseshoe mustache. Hour after hour I lingered in his presence. I performed menial tasks and reloaded magazines until my eyes hurt and my thumbs were raw. I came home many nights with black or bleeding hands and the smell of cigarettes and gunpowder on my clothes. I shot his pistol until I could barely turn a door knob. I watched him and did what he did. I listened to him and rehearsed what he said. In all things concerning the way of a modern warrior and police officer, he was my master and I his disciple. His agency's armorer, use of force instructor, and firearms instructor: I have yet to fully grasp how privileged I was to have a man so adept and qualified at my tutelage.
The word, "Mentor", does not carry much weight in our generation of self-made, entitled, lone-wolves. Everyone thinks in order to be alpha they have to submit to no one, when in fact they are pseudo alphas. Most that I come across are just noisy Betas. Everyone wants credit and no one wants to pay homage. This man is my mentor. At first, it was just in his administrative capacity as the Senior Post Adviser and founder of the local Police Explorers Program. But later, for a while, he was like a second father to me. The greatest men in history owe many irreconcilable debts to men greater than they.
I desperately wish I could say the same is true for my spiritual life, but it is not. I have had many masters, many mentors, and many tutors along the way. This is a direct byproduct of coming up in a church circle which is largely anti-establishment and firmly set on independent theological discovery as opposed to any form of presbyterian governance. Frankly, I have taken bits and pieces from many ministers and sources and thusly had a much more difficult time establishing my own theology. My ideological history is a weaving path of groping my way from assumption and normalcy bias to realization in an epic quest for truth. It is littered with regretful errors. Having a plethora of mentors can (rarely) make a man better rounded as a scholar, but any such accomplishment will come at the cost of great internal conflict. When each mentor gives a different and conflicting answer, a young man has great difficulty finding his footing. If you are mentoring someone, strive most of all to be correct.
As I mentioned recently, every young man is looking for someone to follow - whether it be someone to teach them sport and skill, or a walking ink blot telling them how to cut their beard and carry a Gucci Glock like Thor did. According to YouthMentor.org, at-risk youth who were enrolled in mentorship programs were:
55% more likely to enroll in college
78% more likely to become regular volunteers
90% more likely to want to become a mentor
Over 100% more likely to end up in leadership roles
The system of discipleship was in no wise established as a temporary form of Christian governance, yet many Christians think it died with Christ (they apparently forget that, if it did die with him, then it must also have been resurrected). This is nothing other than rebellious nature and must be subdued if we are to live a life pleasing to God. We must be in subjection to someone in the Lord. Give honor where honor is due (Romans 13:7).
Men need mentors. Be a disciple, or be a mentor. No matter how old you are, I prefer that you do both.
I Peter 5:1-5
II Timothy 2:2
The Blue Shepard
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