SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- The Army community gathered at the Nehelani for the annual U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii National Prayer Breakfast, March 25.
During the opening remarks, Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, U.S. Army-Pacific commander, welcomed those in attendance and urged them to take the opportunity to enjoy each other's fellowship and reflect on the things that matter the most.
"We prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally to do the jobs we need to do, (but) we need to be equally fit spiritually," he said.
Maj. Gen. Donald L. Rutherford, 23rd chief of chaplains, U.S. Army, and ordained priest of the Diocese of Albany, delivered the morning's keynote address.
He alluded to the challenges and uncertainties facing today's Army, but said he was positive they could be overcome if the Army continued to work together toward a common purpose and moved forward with hope, not fear.
"There's a great quote from Deuteronomy, the very first chapter," he said. "Deuteronomy writes, 'The Lord is the one that goes ahead of us. He will be with us, he will not fail us, he will not forsake us.' Because the Lord precedes us, we can go forward with a sense of hope, never with a sense of fear of what may come in the future."
He then went on to share the four principles that he said have helped him to serve as a chaplain in the Army.
"Humility is what Army leadership is built on," he told the audience. "We are humble leaders."
He said he learned this lesson when, as a young Soldier, he felt it necessary to fight for every cause that seemed important to him until he was counseled that it wasn't always necessary.
"Being prophetic is a nice thing, but is rare, and I needed to listen for understanding. That's what I really needed to do," he said, adding, "Maturity is not a function of age, but rather a combination of humility and purpose."
As a reminder, he said, he keeps on his desk a sign that reads, "A closed mouth gathers no feet."
Rutherford showed the audience a picture of a "panicked paratrooper" given to him by one of his sergeants major. The paratrooper has a look of fear on his face and "is doing just about everything wrong," Rutherford explained.
"This reminds me of two things," he said. "One, of the great junior enlisted NCOs that I've had the privilege to work with, who (have) guided and helped me, who I've learned from over the years. The second thing, it shows me about the ability to trust … to trust people and trust the training that are given to us by our great NCOs."
Instead of panicking and over-thinking, he said, Soldiers should trust the training they receive.
"Everything we accomplish is a direct result of how we were trained. Good young officers become good senior officers and were trained by really good sergeants. So trust is a very important thing to do. Be humble and trust."
The Army needs responsible, adaptable, collaborative leadership, Rutherford said. This type of leadership is built on the strength of relationships.
"Leaders should guide and advocate for peers and subordinates," he said. "The heart of being a Soldier is developing relationships.
"A person's success is based on developing relationships. Leaders have to continually think of new ways to get their jobs done, lead their subordinates. Relationships made now can sustain you in the future."
Finally, Rutherford reminded the audience to remain true to themselves and their values.
"The Army has shaped my identity, but it hasn't defined me," he said. "I will continue in my vocation, continue to serve God and my country. I have a grateful heart for having the opportunity to serve so many great NCOs, officers and leaders like you."
As he transitions from active duty, he said he would continue to move forward with humility and trust, remembering to nurture the relationships he has developed over the years.
He urged others in the Army to do the same, whether they remain in the Army or transition to civilian life.
"What's important is your community, your family, your relationships. You can have the best career in the world, but if you don't have the support of friends and family, you have nothing at all. You don't have a future.
"And always remember, it is the heart of the Army that is always your family," he said.