“Roof Duty” by Garris Elkins

by | Jul 16, 2010 | Church, Leadership, Prayer | 6 comments

This morning, after I spent some time with God, I fired up my computer to check my email and stroll through my social-networking sites. As I read down through my Twitter home page I noticed something CNN had posted about some soon- coming remarks from President Barack Obama that he would be making about the Gulf oil leak.

I went to CNN’s site and there was one of those live video feed frames of the White House from a somewhat elevated view showing the flag waving on the roof. It was one of those, “we will give you this shot to ponder while the press corps and the President get ready to go live – watch the waving flag”, dull videos. I usually minimize that kind of screen and enter the world of multi-tasking until the press conference gets under way.

To most people viewing the roof of the Whitehouse is a non-event. For me, I look intently for the security personnel on the roof. Today, they were visible in this distant live shot since their dark uniforms were in stark contrast to the white paint on the White House. They looked like little black ants on the roof barely visible from such a distance unless you knew what to look for. These are the security personnel – the Secret Service, military Special Forces or whomever is assigned to man the look out and the weapons that are out of sight on the roof. These are the guys that when the stuff hits the fan go into action to protect the President. I have pulled this kind of duty.

In a time long, long ago I was a young man who was also a cop. I was on one of the early SWAT teams that were beginning to dot the landscape of the law enforcement community across America. We trained with the FBI SWAT teams to learn their tactics. We trained within our own team to become a functional and cohesive unit. We trained on our our time to remain in top physical shape.

As I pondered the live feed of the Whitehouse on my computer screen, I remembered working similar duty on the roof at Stanford University while assigned to outer perimeter roof duty for President Gerald Ford. I remember when the SLA (Symbionese Liberation Army) terrorist trial was taking place in San Jose, California, I worked the roof again. During the seven weeks of county-wide strikes in Santa Clara County, California I worked the roof of the courthouse because the threat level was so high. Roof duty is obscure and unnoticed to most people, yet it is vital to preserve life.

A lot of life is “roof duty.” You are on the “roof” of your family, your business or your ministry. You are there looking for threats. Most people don’t know you are there – but you are. You are not living in fear, you are living in a state of prepared anticipation of what could go wrong. You do this kind of duty because those living in the rooms underneath your post count on you to be there when things go bad.

A parent does a lot of roof duty when they wait up at night for a newly-minted teenager to return home from a later than normal evening out. A business person works the roof when everyone else gets to go home at the end of the day. A servant-leader in the Church works the roof in prayer at night or very early in the morning when no one else would notice. Most roof duty is simply watching. In the Old Testament the watchmen on the wall of the city watched to see where the enemy might be coming from. This is the essence of roof duty. It hasn’t changed much.

The roof of life and ministry is an obscure place, not a place that draws a great deal of attention. If you have been assigned to spiritual roof duty it will not be the place where you will get noticed, but it is a place where you will be providing security for the important things in life like family, home and Church. Whenever you find yourself alone in the obscure place of roof duty realize that what you are doing is never solo duty. God is up on the roof with you. God likes roof duty and He loves to empower those on the roof with supernatural sight and wisdom so those in the house below can rest in security through the night.


  1. Unknown

    Garris, I liked this very much. It was thoughtful and well written, more so, it really emphasized the Ministry of our Watchmen in the church and in the family. I've often thought many of the dangers and catastrophies we have avoided was because of the watchmen. Eternity will reveal all of the God has accomplished through these humble unsung Hero's.

  2. Jan Elkins

    I love that God is on the rooftop giving oversight, and revelation…not only discerning the spirits, but getting to be the first to see the comings and goings of the King of kings.

  3. Anna Elkins

    Such a great reminder that positions of "invisibility" are vital–and that they are visible to One who's always watching.

  4. Unknown

    Thanks Garris … that was truly encouraging to me today!

  5. Jon Kerlinger

    Great read, Garris. Thanks for that 🙂

  6. xPert

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