Last week I sat down with my son who is almost 14 to watch a movie he has been begging to watch for about 2-3 years. I had decided to put it off for a few reasons – violent content, language, his age/maturity, and most importantly – would he get it? There are a ton of themes going on in that movie, and I wanted him to be a little older so he could see some of those when he watched it.
I’m sure there are some people who will say that I should not have let him watch this flick due to the content, and when there is a lot of negative content in a movie I am inclined to agree, but not always. Violent and coarse content that exists only for the sake of being violent and coarse should be avoided! Why subject anyone to something like that – especially a young teen? But there are times, and I believe historical movies that are based on an actual event can be watched by our kids in order to show them what has happened and encourage discussion. Movies like Braveheart, Schindler’s List, We Were Soldiers, and many others are movies that can be used to educate.
Let me be clear on a major point. They should be watched with a parent that is allowing the viewing not for entertainment purposes, but as educational. Pause the thing every few minutes and talk about what is being seen. Dads, draw your son’s focus to the moments in the flick that put the character of the characters on display and show them the strengths and the weaknesses. Show your daughters the same thing so they can better understand the underlying thoughts of a man’s actions. These are very good teachable moments for both genders.
I’ll admit that I had another motive for allowing Zach to watch this movie. He is starting to look at college and scholarship opportunities and things like that. One of the things he has looked at for his college of choice is ROTC. Cedarville has both Army and Air Force options available, and as we have talked, he has shown an interest in Army. I tread on dangerous ground here in choosing branches of service, but as his parents and the potential for imminent threat on our son during times that are as troubled as these, we would prefer a career for him in the Air Force rather than being a ground pounder. So, I was interested in seeing how a brutal battle might affect his decision. (Spoiler alert – I’m not sure it did anything! The honor and fortitude showed by the characters in the movie in the face of overwhelming opposition was inspiring!)
So, I thought I would just touch on a couple of the things we talked about as we watched the movie:
Preparation is the key to victory.
Lt. Col. Moore researched the people of Vietnam, the terrain, the military strategy they had used in the past, other battle models. He drilled his men on what to do in a firefight when they lost their leader. He was honest with them from the beginning that not all of them would return. Walking in blindly to any struggle, physical or spiritual is foolish. We need to prepare! Paul tells us to train our bodies like an athlete. Solomon stresses the importance of seeking wisdom. The heat of battle is not the place to do this. It must happen before we are hip deep in the mess!
A real leader does not simply lead from the front.
Lt. Col. Moore told his men he would be the first to put his foot on the ground and the last to take his foot off the ground. He moved through his men both night and day to check on them and to give direction, encouragement, and share the truth of their situation. That is a real leader. If you lead from only the front, you will find yourself eventually taking a walk by yourself. If you lead from only the rear, then you are just driving those around you, and that drive will lead to distraction, discouragement, and resentment. One seen in the movie showed a young officer seeking glory for himself that ran after a Vietnamese scout shouting for his men to follow him. It resulted in his death, and most of the men following him as well.
A real man serves those following him.
Another young lieutenant takes a moment during a march to inspect the feet of those under his command. I could not help but think of Jesus when he knelt down and took a smelly, sweaty, blistered, and oozing foot in his hands to see what kind of damage was there. That is such a picture of servant leadership, and I really want my son to see that in me as well.
Men can be scared, but they need to understand their circumstances and know when to hold position.
Sargent Savage was cut off from the main force with just a few men and dwindling ammunition. Fear allowed to run rampant would have resulted in his men dying as they tried to retreat. Instead, he held his position. He fought the fight and endured until the rescue came. I’ve felt that same fear in my life. Sometimes I have run from the fight, and it resulted in casualties – my family, my friends. Other times I have held position and waited my rescue in the refuge that God has provided for me. His strength, His leadership, His Word, His people. Sometimes the best direction to run is nowhere. Just fall to your knees and shelter yourself in God’s protection.
Sounds simple, but why? LT. Col. Moore cried at the end of the battle. It was grief, exhaustion, relief, all mixed up together. He let it out. Men need to do that. Holding those emotions turns to poison in our systems and it sickens our relationships. While our tears are often quite different from those of women, they are not any less important. We need to be able to do that.
There are a lot of other great lessons in the movie, and I will not go through all of them here. I would like to encourage anyone reading this (including me!) to look at what you watch for lessons for life to share with your family and your friends. Be purposeful (again, talking to myself first) in how you do things. Be intentional in your conversations with your family and friends. Bring God the glory in what you do in sharing life.
In HIS Grip,