RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–John Sullivan didn’t need to be in the line of fire to gain a respect for those on the front lines of the justice system.
“Yes, I was with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for two years and trained as a fingerprint expert,” said Sullivan, executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention. “But, I never got out of the basement.”
Sullivan spoke to a group of law enforcement officers at the 2003 Law Enforcement Summit sponsored by LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C., Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
The FBI had initiated a program to accept 2,000 graduates into a training program at the FBI headquarters in Washington. Sullivan went after his high school graduation in 1954.
“I was never an agent,” he said. “In the two years I was there training to become a fingerprint expert, I never got out in the field. But those two years were enough for me to gain the deepest and utmost respect for those of you who have given your life to serve as law enforcement officers. And, yes, I do believe it’s a calling.”
He said the only thing that “keeps this nation sane is the law of the land.”
“Chaos begets chaos,” he said. “As a result, you are right in the middle of what God’s doing to keep decency and democracy and the laws of this great nation intact. I commend you and thank God for you.”
Acknowledging that the men and women who serve in a law enforcement capacity see the worst side of humanity, he said, “We don’t live in a trusting world. Just the opposite. Trust is probably one of the most difficult things to do. We question motives. We question relationships. If we aren’t careful, we’ll become hyper-suspicious of everything and everyone around us.”
Citing Matthew 6:30-34, Sullivan said every day has enough burdens of its own.
“Don’t borrow from tomorrow and don’t gunny-sack from yesterday.”
Sullivan reminded the officers that difficulties will come in their lives — and everyone else’s — on a regular basis.
“If we don’t deal with the burdens and anxieties of life as they come, we will be constantly harassed by them and we will find ourselves in crisis,” he said.
Sullivan listed several areas of life where God will help them carry the load:
“Two becoming one is more than a sexual encounter,” Sullivan said. “You lose your identities in each other. When you go undercover, your wife suffers more than you do.”
“I was under the mistaken impression that when my children grew up and got married, I would no longer have that financial responsibility,” Sullivan said to laughter.
— Relationship with Christ.
Sullivan said he knew that officers with odd schedules struggle with finding time for church, making time for prayer and Bible-reading. But he added that having a personal relationship with Christ is crucial.
— Time management.
Everyone has just 24 hours in a day, he pointed out.
“Eat the big frogs first,” he said, “and the little frogs will take care of themselves.”
He also reminded them to carve out some time for their personal development.
— The future.
“When you trade in your tensions for pensions, all that happens is you build more tensions,” he said.
He challenged the officers to settle their relationship with Christ. “Know that your eternity is secure and no one can take it away from you.”
Sullivan reminded the officers that they need to accept themselves as God made then, but cautioned them to remember, “You must also accept others as God made them.”
In closing, Sullivan told the officers, “The job that you do is not just for a paycheck. Your job is a divine calling from God. If you were not there, chaos would be the result.”
The 2004 Ridgecrest Law Enforcement Summit will be Oct. 5-7. For more information about next year’s event, contact Ron Pratt at [email protected] or call him at (615) 251-2065.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: BEING USED BY GOD.