There are many roles I have played, but few would say “warrior” is one of them. Why in the world, then, would I choose to name this blog “Way of the Warrior” and then claim to be walking that path myself?
What is a “warrior”? Many possible definitions exist, but one cannot be a warrior in any sense if they have not made preparations to fight when the need arises. Simply being in the middle of a conflict no more makes one a warrior that having a difficult sum to solve makes one a mathematician. If war broke out today, the one who would be ready with a response is the warrior. The term connotes preparation and readiness.
In the same vein, what does it mean to be a disciple? Again, many definitions have been bandied about, but I think at its most basic a disciple is one who both practices a discipline and becomes, as a result, disciplined. In other words, a disciple is prepared to do what the Master requires whenever called upon. If the Master called today, the one who would be ready to respond is the disciple. And, just as the outbreak of a battle around you does not automatically make you a warrior (although it does not preclude you from becoming an unwilling participant or even a casualty of war!), the call of the Master does not automatically make you a disciple. Rather, it is the preparation before the call and the anticipation of the call that define the disciple.
Preparation and training for war must be intentionally sought after and engaged in diligently and consistently over time in order to be mastered. So it is with following Jesus. Living each day in such a way as to always be ready for the call to service is common to both pursuits as well. A specific mental attitude is assumed in order for the goal to be accomplished well, and certain specific activities are engaged in regularly to maintain the highest level of skill, preparedness, and alertness. Scripture is full of martial metaphors, comparing our lives as disciples of Christ with that of the well prepared and properly equipped warrior, so the connection that exists between the two in my mind has a solid foundation.
One thing further defines both the warrior and the disciple: They are each primary identities. No one who studies the art of war on a part-time basis can truly be named “warrior”. (The term “weekend warrior” exists for this reason, and the somewhat derogatory nature of the term is due to its implication of a lack of total commitment.) Similarly, no one who follows Christ with only half his heart can truly be named “disciple”. (“Casual Christian,” maybe?) Indeed, Master Jesus Himself warns against less than wholehearted pursuit: “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
The “way” of the warrior (or the disciple) then is just this: an all-encompassing identity that is embraced wholeheartedly and without reservation, leading to specific practices that are exercised regularly so that a mindset and attitude of readiness to be of service to the Master can be maintained indefinitely and His call responded to with proficient alacrity when it comes. That, in brief, is the mission of my life. And, as a natural outgrowth of this mission, I look to help others in any way I can as they desire to walk this path and follow the Master themselves.
So, I suppose I could have called this blog “Way of the Disciple” instead. Maybe it was the allure of alliteration that drew me to “Way of the Warrior”. Perhaps it is the teenage boy in me still that finds the picture of the “mighty warrior” more compelling and inspirational than that of the “suffering servant”. Or, possibly, it was the inward realization, operating just below the level of full consciousness, that the two are one and the same.
May you be blessed as you hear the Master’s call, experience His amazing grace and ending love and undying life, and choose to be His disciple, His warrior, equipped and ready. Further up and further in!