Friday, September 8, 2017

When It's Time To Say No

There are times when we have to say no to a bad idea. Some of these ill-conceived plans can bring unnecessary harm unless someone stands up and says, “No!”

In the early 70’s police departments across American were realizing the need for specialized units who could deal with barricaded subjects, hostage situations, and other high-risk situations. As a young 24-year-old cop, I was chosen to become a member of the SWAT team for a large law enforcement agency in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was a real honor to be chosen. Along with advanced weapons and tactics training offered locally, we were also trained each month by FBI SWAT units in locations throughout the Bay Area who were tasked with training police officers nationally for this new concept in police work.

One aspect of our training was rappelling. I learned to rappel down the face of buildings, elevator shafts in a high-rise building and just about every vertical surface possible. We did this exercise to build confidence. To this day, I don’t still don't like heights. Jan is the one who goes up on the roof of our home to blow off the leaves because she knows how I feel about heights.  So much for Mister Macho! 

One afternoon we got a call-up. We were told to gear up and meet in the commander’s office of the narcotics task force.  Intelligence was received from a credible informant that a large shipment of drugs was being transported in a U-Haul truck. The shipment was being guarded by armed criminals.

Standing around the briefing table were seasoned SWAT cops from my team and a few of us with less than a year on SWAT. One of the commanding officers, not an active SWAT member, was in charge of the tactical plan. He liked being close to the action but was not on our team. He hatched a plan before our arrival and began to share it with us with great enthusiasm and command presence. His plan was to obtain a helicopter and have our team rappel down and onto the roof of the moving U-Haul truck and attempt our assault from the roof. It was obvious he had spent too much time watching action movies.

As he was sharing his plan, the older SWAT cops began to slowly turn their heads looking at each other. I had already assessed this foolish plan and found it terribly wanting. A few objections were going through my mind. The armed criminals inside the moving truck once they heard us land on the thin aluminum roof would start firing up at us.  To rappel down on a moving truck from a helicopter had a very narrow margin for error. My final thought was, “Why not tail the truck to its destination and take them down then?” About the time I finished my personal list of objections, an older SWAT cop we all respected but held no formal rank said, “No. That will get us killed. Bad idea!” The commanding officer looked puzzled and finally awakened from his fantasy and said, “OK. What are your thoughts?” The mission then took a turn toward wisdom and no one got hurt in the takedown. Had someone not spoken up in just a few days the sound of bagpipes would have been heard at the funerals honoring our memory.

I shared this story because some of you need to find your voice when you are being asked to do something you know does not reflect the heart of God. If you go along with the plan being offered you will run a fool’s errand and be asked to call it God. There is a coming moment in your life when you have will speak to authority and say like Peter, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). 

A wave of courage is beginning to sweep across the Church. It will wash away the assumption of obedience just because someone holds a position of power and authority. The sound of your voice will awaken people from the slumber of their assumptions. Create and speak your objection with honor. Without honor, your words will lack the power needed to turn the tide from being a work of the flesh to become a work of the Spirit filled with wisdom and proper execution.

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