All my life, I have been a protector. I once protected my little brother from a neighborhood bully. In the 6th grade, I got in a fight defending a Native American friend who was surrounded by mocking white kids who were issuing racial slurs. When I married Jan, I have always wanted to stand between her and danger. The nine years I spent as a police officer, I protected the citizens of each community where I worked. Once, as a SWAT team member, I was assigned to a security detail for the President of the United States. I protected celebrities at concerts who were unaware of my presence in the crowd. For 35 years, I was a pastor protecting God’s flock. I don’t know what it would be like to live a life without protecting other people.
Each of us is called to protect the innocent and the unaware. It is easy to get angered at people who have no clue about the dangers of life, both in the natural and spiritual realm. If you are going to be a protector, you will have to deal with these judgments and resulting emotions because they can detract you from the attention needed when you are called into action. Watch a Secret Service agent guarding the President, and you will see a cool and collected demeanor of a person focused solely on the task of protecting.
As I get older, I am no longer able to do the things I did as a young man. As the changes of aging become a reality, protectors have to adjust their thinking and their tactics. These adjustments do not mean a person becomes a less effective protector. It means we must find new and creative ways to protect. A mom must learn how to let go of her immediate protective presence when she sends her child off to school for the first time. A father must trust his daughter to live with the integrity he instilled in her when she goes on her first date. A pastor must put more trust in the Lord’s ability to protect the flock that any theology, warning, or religious structure he or she might put in place.
At the core of any protector who remains effective over time is a deepening trust in God. This trust comes when we are fully assured that God is able to protect the ones under our care even when our abilities or a circumstance of life no longer allows us to protect them up close and personal.
Trust in God is ultimately the most effective form of protection we can offer our loved ones. Having done all we can do we must learn to trust God with all things, including the safety of those under our care. Trust has the ability to defeat an assault before it begins because trust displaces the fear that empowers and emboldens the very thing we feared.