Note from Gene Cunningham: Every Christian should be concerned about leadership, since each of us is called to be a leader. While the methods of leadership will change from the military, political, and spiritual realm, the essence of leadership remains the same. Col. Ken Curcio (USMC, Retired) has a lifetime of leadership experience: from learning, teaching, and exercising it. Ken currently serves as the President of the Board of Directors of Basic Training Bible Ministries. I highly recommend his post to our readers for your own leadership development.
Be Ready and Be Bold to Act!
“The wicked flee when no one pursues, But the righteous are bold as a lion. Because of the transgression of a land, many are its princes; but by a man of understanding and knowledge right will be prolonged.”PRO 28:1-2 (emphasis added)
Leadership is a skill that seems to be in short supply in today’s world. Leadership is the art of influencing people to bring out the best in them. Good leaders elicit willful high performance from those in their periphery. The U.S. military has studied leadership in depth, since its success on the battlefield depends on good leaders. However, the spiritual realm also needs good leaders in the home, in the church, and in life.
This is the beginning of a series of posts to address the proven principles and traits of military leadership with a spiritual perspective. The first post will address two items that go hand-in-hand: the trait of “knowledge: understanding of a science or an art,” and the principle of “seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.” These simply mean that you should know your job through study and practice and seek greater responsibility in performing your job when the opportunity presents itself. In short, be ready and be bold to act! (HEB 5:14). It is too late, when the balloon goes up, to try to cram for the exam, and you certainly will not have the confidence to act boldly.
Before we look at a biblical example of these ideas, let’s first examine a recent event in the sporting world:
In August 2014, the football team and its fans at the Ohio State University were disheartened when the starting quarterback, Braxton Miller, had a season-ending shoulder injury prior to the start of the season. This appeared to doom the team to mediocrity, since he had been the star quarterback for the past three seasons and had been a Heisman trophy candidate in previous years. (The Heisman trophy is the highest individual award for the most outstanding player in college football.)
The competition as Miller’s backup had raged during spring and fall practice between the previous year’s backup, third-year player Cardale Jones, who had only played occasionally, and second-year player, J.T. Barrett, who had only been on the practice squad the year before. Now they were competing to be the starting quarterback. Both were performing comparably, but when decision time came for the first game, Barrett was tagged as the starter.
After a shaky start, to include a loss in the second game, he and the offense began to gel. By the final game of the season, the team had performed admirably, resulting in a record of 10-1. Barrett had broken conference scoring records and was fifth in the voting for the Heisman trophy. The team was in the running for the College Football Championship playoff. However, with a lead midway through the final game of the regular season, Barrett got caught up in a scrum at the line of scrimmage and broke his ankle.
Cardale Jones had played infrequently during the season, but he was now called upon to step in at the quarterback position. He completed the final game, holding onto the lead and giving the Buckeyes a record of 11-1. This record gave them the lead in the Eastern Division of the Big Ten Conference resulting in a trip to the Big Ten Championship game against the Western Division leader, Wisconsin.
There was much speculation on how the number-three quarterback might perform in the pressure-packed conference championship game as his first start, resulting in the odds being placed against them. Not only did he perform admirably, but he also led the Buckeyes to a 59-0 thumping of Wisconsin. The performance of both he and the team was so impressive that the College Football Playoff Committee awarded the Ohio State Buckeyes a spot in the playoff over two other teams vying for that position.
The newly-minted College Football Playoff (in the past, the national champion was determined merely by the rankings at the end of the season) pitted the top four teams in the final standing against each other with semi-final games between teams one and four, and between teams two and three. Ohio State had earned the fourth spot and would go up against the number one team in the country, Alabama. The other game would be between number-two Oregon and number-three Florida State. Again, the experts considered Ohio State as the underdog, since they were competing against the number-one team, with their starting quarterback having only one start under his belt.
Against the odds, Jones—with great poise—lead the Buckeyes to a victory of 42-35 in an upset over the number one team in the country. The sports pundits were starting to become believers, but they still placed the odds against Ohio State beating Oregon, who had demolished Florida State in the other semi-final game. Oregon had the Heisman trophy-winning quarterback and played the game at a tempo which most thought the Buckeyes would not be able to contend.
Once more, against the odds, in only his third game as starting quarterback, Jones and the rest of the Buckeye team played with such confidence and skill that they emerged the winners over Oregon by a score of 42-20. It was evident that the players were ready when called upon.
Both J.T.Barrett and Cardale Jones had learned the skills of quarterback on the practice field and were prepared—when their opportunity came—to step in for an injured player, resulting in the national championship for the team.
To look at an example of these qualities in Scripture, we need look no further than David and his encounter with Goliath. In 1 Samuel 17, we discover that Saul, although he is now out of favor with the Lord for not obeying God and completely destroying the Amalekites, is still king and the leader of the army of Israel. This army is defending Judah against the Philistine army led by the giant Goliath. Saul and all the army of Israel were dismayed and greatly afraid of Goliath and the Philistines (1SA 17:11).
While three of David’s older brothers were full-time members of Saul’s army, David was primarily a shepherd tending his father’s flocks, but also acting in a part-time capacity as Saul’s armorbearer. David had been faithful to the Lord and had been anointed by God for great things. As a shepherd, he had become very knowledgeable and proficient in fighting and killing the lions and bears that would threaten the sheep.
On one occasion, David’s father Jesse instructed David to take some food to his brothers and bring back news of how they were doing in the fight against the Philistines. While he was there, Goliath showed himself and called out for someone to come fight him, with the prize being that the loser’s army would serve the other. All of Saul’s army were afraid to face this challenge, but David acted boldly and volunteered to go out and face the giant.
While Saul tried to clothe him with weighty armor and arm him with heavy weapons, David declined, since he had not trained with that equipment. Knowing that the Lord was with him, and fighting Goliath with the skill that he had learned while tending the sheep, David killed Goliath with a single stone from his sling.
Both Cardale Jones and David were ready, and acted boldly against the giant they faced.
These principles can be applied to our spiritual life. MAT 6:33 tells us, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” By knowing and seeking God, we will be ready for whatever comes our way in life.
We are told in 1PE 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” When we truly know God, people will see a hope in us that will afford an opportunity to be bold in telling them about that hope—which is Christ Jesus.
Leadership Background of Ken Curcio
Ken was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps in November 1973. Upon completion of Officer’s Basic Course, Lieutenant Curcio was assigned as an Infantry Officer and graduated from the U.S. Army Ranger School. His first assignment in 1974 was as a Rifle Platoon Commander with 1st Battalion 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division on Okinawa where he lead his platoon as part of Operation Frequent Wind (the evacuation of South Vietnam). During this tour, he was promoted to First Lieutenant.
Returning from overseas in 1976, he was assigned as a Reconnaissance Platoon Commander with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, CA. His next assignment was at Recruiting Station, Charleston, WV in 1977 as Operations Officer. Upon his promotion in 1978, Captain Curcio was elevated to Executive Officer of the Recruiting Station.
After completing Amphibious Warfare School in 1981, he was ordered to 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, NC where he was assigned to 2nd Battalion 6th Marines as Assistant Operations Officer. After taking command of Company G, 2nd Battalion 6th Marines, he lead his company to Beirut, Lebanon in 1983 as part of the Multinational Peacekeeping Force.
After one year as Base Training Officer at Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, NC and promotion in 1984, Major Curcio was assigned as Marine Officer Instructor in the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Upon graduation from the Marine Corps Command and Staff College in 1988, he was assigned to 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, CA as Operations Officer, 1st Marine Regiment. After transfer in 1989 to 1st Battalion 4th Marines as Executive Officer, he helped lead the battalion in its participation in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm (liberation of Kuwait). He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1990.
In July 1991, Lieutenant Colonel Curcio was assigned as Assistant Program Manager, Anti-Armor Weapons in Quantico, VA. Upon reassignment in July 1995, he served as Director, Marine Corps Ground Programs in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy. He was promoted to Colonel on July 1, 1996.
In July 1997, Colonel Curcio was assigned as Program Manager, Joint Ground Robotics Program at Redstone Arsenal, AL. Upon reassignment in July 1999, he served as Deputy Program Manager for a long-range communitations program at the Office of Naval Research. He retired from the Marine Corps in 2002.
Since 2002, Ken has been involved with program management on behalf of the Marine Corps, retiring from government-contract work in September 2014.