By Chaplain (Capt.) Patrice Mbo, USARECDecember 20, 2013
FORT MEADE, Ky., (Dec. 20, 2013) -- One of the many challenges that we face in recruiting is finding the right balance between performance and self-care. Let me share with you a verse from the Bible that I think can speak to us about this tension we all experience in one way or another.
"Nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:15-16)
The "lamp" represents the recruiters, and "the light" is their passion to serve in the Army. The verse required that such a light be shared with our communities so others can appreciate the honor to serve and can ultimately join the Army.
This is a great mission that we perform every day with dedication. But at the same time it is very important that we find the right balance between performance and self-care in order to stay focused on the mission and to achieve our personal and professional goals.
You ask, "How do we do that?" The answer is self-discipline. Practicing self-discipline allows us to take care of our body, mind and soul. A German proverb says, "God gives the nuts but he does not crack them." It is everyone's responsibility to develop and maintain an appropriate physical, mental and spiritual fitness. Those three aspects of our well-being are not separated from one another. They are actually equally important. However, it takes self-disciplined, commitment to sustain and make personal improvements.
First, establish a routine physical fitness plan and exercise. This is crucial to keeping one's body healthy and it helps prevent illness and reduce ill effects of stress. Also, exercise will enable you to meet height and weight standards and pass the semiannual Army Physical Fitness Test. This is particularly important during a time when the Army is down-sizing. Furthermore, you'll build stamina and have more energy for daily tasks and evening leisure.
Second, through mental fitness we gain a better awareness of our potential. We learn the tools to build strong coping skills. Mental fitness should be understood here as our intentional practice of self-awareness and the integration of such understanding into developing and maintaining healthy relationships.
The practice of mental fitness is to develop a better sense of self as we learn how to recognize our assumptions, our strengths and limits. It could be done through self-education, but it is also effective when facilitated by a professional (counselor, therapist, chaplain, etc) who could help us process our thoughts and feelings about ourselves and others in an objective manner.
Finally, when we invest in our spiritual fitness through the practice of our faith and philosophical views, we stimulate a better sense of hope and meaning that enables us to face our challenges in a more efficient way.
Often Soldiers and their families get strength and comfort from their religious and spiritual resources. In fact, regardless of our backgrounds, we all approach our challenges with a lifetime of skills and beliefs.
The practice of spiritual fitness is to focus upon connecting self with the spiritual beliefs, experiences, practices, and rituals, which enhance our resiliency skills and our feelings of peacefulness.