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MILTARY MATTERS: The Army and Ministry

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 6:51 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Preaching in church is a different battlefield for Derrick Shields. Before taking over as lead pastor of Christ Community Church in Columbus, he served 20 years in the Army, wearing a variety of hats.

“I used to jump out of planes, perfectly good planes, jump out of them for a living when I was an Airborne instructor,” said Pastor Derrick Shields, Former Army Drill Sergeant.

And to the surprise of some in his congregation, Pastor Shields also was a drill sergeant.

That’s the perception of that job, the yelling and such, which now Retired Staff Sgt. Shields that he needed to be as a drill sergeant, over the top with the basic trainees.

“A 1st Sgt. of mine, we were feeding the soldiers and I was all in one soldier’s face, he let me do what I was doing, then called me over to the side and said these words to me that literally changed my leadership style: He said you don’t have to talk to them that way to get them to do what you want them to do,” said Pastor Shields.

“Seminary can only teach you so much in short period of time. 20 years in the military, doing this on a regular basis, you start developing instinct and a way of life,” said Shields.

He remembers those days as a non-commissioned officer, saying over his two decades in the Army, they instilled discipline in him and communication skills he still uses in his life and job at a multi-racial church. Pastor Shields also calls the military one of the most diverse organizations you’ll find.

“I was from Mississippi, segregated town, we had black life, white life, very rarely did the 2 go together, but I go into the military and it’s a tapestry of all cultures and it still stays with me today, which is why my passion for the church to be diverse is so great,” said Shields.

And he recently wrote an editorial featured in the national “Guideposts” magazine about diversity and the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’.

“Those words [Black Lives Matter] do polarize people. If They think of it in the context of what they know it to be, then they’re not hearing what the other person maybe thinking or resisting. It is an opportunity for people to come together and have a conversation,” explained Shields.

Listen to Pastor Shields weave Army and faith stories into sermons, and more during an extended chat on the “Run The Race” podcast.

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