Inside View from a Messianic IDF Officer

This post from Tal, an IDF officer in a combat engineering unit, was originally written as an update to his friends and is re-published on kehilanews.com with his permission.

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Seven months ago I finally finished my assignment of training 50 soldiers in the Combat Engineering Corps, that became 31 and then finally 16 . It must have been the most challenging year of my life so far. I honestly don’t think any year coming ahead will resemble this one in its intensity or significance.

A moment at the toilet

I am reminded by this moment, about 3 weeks after starting – that I found myself in a bathroom stall, not because I had to ‘go’ but because of having to just stop. The high pressure of all these new things at once, the amount of responsibility that was not familiar to me, the need to keep going when it least feels like it and especially the feeling that you are just not doing a good job. I truly thought that anyone you would have brought to switch with me would have for sure done a better job. The thought of ‘is it still possible to quit in an honorable way’ came to mind… I just could not picture me finishing the year.

I don’t really remember what kept me going at that time, maybe the phone rang or maybe someone had to ‘go’ for real, but what I do know is that God knew what he was doing when he threw me into the deep ocean. Although in my eyes it was too deep, that year was just like the verse from I Corinthians 10:13. It’s encouraging to see through scripture how the people God chose to use weren’t considered to be ‘something’ in themselves, weren’t exactly qualified for the job, didn’t have the greatest abilities but that’s also why all the glory went to Him. And it’s the same in this case – thank God – not only that I got to the end of the year, but that I can also look back and know that is was done well. He has shown me how faithful He is, and I know without any doubt, deep down in my heart that I’ve succeeded not because of how good my abilities were but because He helped me all along the way. He’s taught me that where He guides – He also provides, and the next time I’ll recognize a step of faith coming ahead – this experience will definitely make a strengthening encouragement to go for it.

idf-puma-1

So I really want to encourage you in whatever you are doing – as bad as you may think you are doing in your own eyes, or when the situation just becomes frustrating because you just can’t see the bigger picture or purpose – keep pressing on with confidence in just the fact that God knows what He is doing.

Like most of us I also like using the verse from Romans 8:28 about how all things work together for good to them that love God, but I’ve noticed it’s actually the verse coming after that really explains the meaning of this ‘good’ – “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son...” and no doubt that sort of conformation is going to have some serious hardships involved, but then, it’s also so worth it.

Training trainers

In two weeks, my second period as an officer’s instructor will come to an end (adding up to 8 months). It has really been an honor to have this assignment and to have the chance to teach these guys from my experience- both from my mistakes and from my successes. This is the second and last half of their officer training (the last 4 months) and right before they get going. My goal is to prepare them (14 of them in my case) in the best way possible, and to equip them with all the tools they need for the ‘job’. Another goal is to get to know them as much as possible because we determine in the end of the course what assignment will they get to do, and only about half will receive soldiers into their hands. So it’s about trying to create a ‘personal suit’ to each guy, giving them the right type of drill that will challenge them but not be too hard, watching, and then in the end of the drill sitting down with them and talking about ‘the good and the bad’. Although not as intense as the prior year, it hasn’t been going smooth all the time and there were ups and downs. But it has also been a very good period, in that it has taught me much about human-relations, about the importance in communicating and being direct with people, to know how to give constructive criticism and there have also been some good opportunities to share about the faith.

Going operational

In a few weeks I’ll be starting my last period in the military, but this time after a year and 8 months of training others it will finally be on the operational side. The role is to be the head of a ‘bomb-squad’ team (which is my original field), a team that consists of only 6 in total. We’ll be on our own, rotating around the different borders, having our own vehicle and just being on call for whatever comes up. I had to sign on for another year, and although this is a good assignment it does seem to be like a long time considering the fact that I’m starting to feel like I’m ready to finish.

Looking ← before looking →

There was another major lesson I’ve learned and would like to share but this update has already become quite long. Because it’s an important one I’ll just say in a nut shell that I’ve learned that real leadership is about looking inward before looking outward. When things go wrong – it’s a good thing to look first at yourself, understand that for sure you also have a part in creating this situation, and then to try and ‘fix’ your ‘bads’. Only afterwards look at the other person. But the really interesting thing I’ve learned from some experiences I’ve had is that the second part – of telling the other side what he has been doing wrong – many times isn’t even necessary, because they have already improved their part. It goes together, it has a mutual effect and when one side focuses on improving himself, the second will usually also rise to the occasion. Of course not immediately, and of course not every situation is that simple but I’ve found this principle to be first of all just plain truth, and second of all I’ve found it to really prove itself and help when things weren’t looking so good.

Prayer about this coming year with this small team will be deeply appreciated, but what’s on my mind even more than this coming year is what happens once this year is over. There are many, many options out there and it’s already looking quite confusing… and as you can guess I want to make the right decisions, make the best use of time (I’ll be 24 by then) and to be in God’s will.

To Him is all glory, Tal

P.S.

In the 2 photos you can see the ‘Puma’- the heavy vehicle we use for getting over obstacles and for moving around.