The story is told of a time when Satan conferred with his high command. The subject of the conference was the disturbing effectiveness of a single man of God and what should lie done to stop him.
One demon stepped forward and suggested that a beautiful woman should be sent to seduce him and ruin him.
Satan waved off this idea by saying, “I know him. He would convert her. We would only be losing another soul.”
The next demon proposed giving him great wealth so that he would be consumed by the love of money and weakened irreparably by opulent leisure.
Satan growled back, “That’s an even worse idea because this man has no love of money and would put everything we give him into projects .. that would cost us even more souls.
Even after long reflection, they found no solution. Finally, a dark and wicked spirit presented itself before Satan.
“Master,” it said, “I will go and discourage him.” Satan’s eyes widened and a wicked smile slowly stole across his face.
“Yes,” he said in a low and deliberate murmur. “That’s it exactly! Go and do it!”
Generals in all wars learn quickly about troop morale. A general must, at all costs, keep the killer frost of fear off of his men. Fear in a fighting force instantly ruins the best of training, plans, and opportunity. A general must also smite apathy and confusion as vigilantly as he would any physical invader. Hunger and fatigue are two other mortal enemies that a wise general will prevent at all costs.
Concerning troop morale, Von Clausewitz said, “One might say that the physical seemed little more than the wooden hilt while the morale factors are the precious metal, the real weapon, the finely honed blade.” 40 If morale is the steel blade of war, then a great deal of effort must be placed into keeping it sharp. While troop morale is enhanced by courage, focus of purpose, physical nourishment, and rest, nothing compares to the morale-inducing power of the general himself.
Sun Tzu called the wise general “the respected one.” He insisted that an effective commander must be a mystical, awe-inspiring figure to his men. He must, of necessity, possess strong virtues that inspire boldness in battle and, at the same time, dread and fear of his command. Sun Tzu said, “By command I mean the general’s qualities of wisdom, sincerity, humanity, courage, and strictness: . . . These five are the virtues of the general. Hence the army refers to him as ‘The Respected One’ . . . If wise, a commander is able to recognize changing circumstances and to act expediently. If sincere, his men will have no doubt of the certainty of rewards and punishments. If humane, he loves mankind, sympathizes with others, and appreciates their industry and toil. If courageous, he gains victory by seizing opportunity without hesitation. If strict, his troops are disciplined because they are in awe of him and are afraid of punishment . . . If a general is not courageous he will be unable to conquer doubts or to create great plans.” 41
The general who can conquer the fears and doubts of his men can conquer any outside enemy. Likewise, the general who convinces his men that he truly cares about them will win their undying loyalty.
Sun Tzu also said, “When one treats people with benevolence, justice, and righteousness, and reposes confidence in them, the army will be united in mind and all will be happy to serve their leaders.” 42
This union of soldier to his commander is the soul of morale. Von Clausewitz called this the ‘military spirit,” when he said, “An army that maintains its cohesion under the most murderous fire; that cannot be shaken by imaginary fears and resists well-founded ones with all of its might; that, proud of its victories, will not lose the strength to obey orders and its respect and trust for its officers even in defeat; whose physical power like the muscles of an athlete, have been steeled by training in privation and effort; a force that regards such efforts as a means to victory rather than a curse on its cause; that is mindful of these duties and qualities by virtue of the single powerful idea of the honor of its arms – such an army is imbued with the true military spirit.” 43
But you, warrior, must also watch your morale. Your Commander-in-Chief longs to protect it. But let us call morale by its true name – the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
To understand this supernatural warrior-gift from God, we must begin by realizing that all the qualities that a soldier reveres in a mighty general are present in Christ but on a much more infinite scale. We are not merely cared for, we have been “bought with a price,” and we are ‘loved with an everlasting love.
We must also fear the Lord: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments . . .” [Psalms 111:10]. His commands must be obeyed. The consequences of disobedience are as real for us in our daily life as they are to any soldier on a battlefield.
An absence of troop morale spells doom. Its spiritual equivalent is discouragement. Discouragement is a familiar word, and because it is, its danger is totally underrated. I know of no other condition that is more dangerous to a Christian warrior, and yet, it is handled with such minor concern. Discouragement is a virile attack on your spirit’s immune system. It means to get to the core of your being and riddle you with its malignancy. You will feel powerless to pray! You will look at all your achievements, and they will feel meaningless and futile. You will look up the road of your future with a crushing emotion. You will feel that nothing you will ever do will make a difference.
Action against discouragement must be swift and complete. Do not be a foolish hero; admit you are in trouble. Do not test your limits against discouragement. Above all, and hear me in this, you must learn to embrace the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Just as a general regroups, fires up, and corrects his men to bring them back to battle-worthiness, so Jesus has set in place a process to restore effective warfare: the encouragement of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is comfort; He is called the Comforter. Just as an earthly general cannot deprive His soldiers of morale, Jesus promised, “I will not leave you comfortless . . . ” [John 14:18 KJV].
Here is a chilling, but factual statement: In Christian war, the difference between conqueror and casualty will most likely be decided by a single habit: the ability to go and submit to the work of the Holy spirit and receive comfort in times of discouragement. Here is how you develop this:
1. Have an ear to hear the Holy Spirit.
“He that has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Holy Spirit says to the churches”. . . [Rev. 2:7a].
Go back with me to the letter about communion where I expose the voice of shame versus the Holy Spirit. Now is the time to employ what you have learned. The ability to hear and know the difference between shame and the Spirit’s voice can only be developed by regular exercise.
2. Let the Holy Spirit refresh your sense of being eternally bonded to God. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” [Romans 8:5].
You are loved unconditionally. The Holy Spirit will speak creative words to you, and those words will wipe out insecurity and restore an unfiltered vision of your connection to Christ.
3. Ask for specific directions out of your storm of discouragement. Do not question those orders!
Low troop morale almost cost David his life at Ziklag. He and his soldiers had returned from a battle to find their village burned to ashes and their wives and children stolen by Amalekite raiders.
“Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” [I Samuel 30:6].
David wastes not one breath in accusation against God. Instead, he asks for direction to get out of the crisis.
“So David inquired of the Lord saying, ‘Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?’ And He answered him, ‘Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all'” [I Samuel 30:8].
David received a word from God! It is emphatic, clear, and all encompassing. The crowning moment of your time of comfort in the Holy Spirit is this unmistakable voice of direction and promise of triumph.
4. Accept correction!
It is clear that we often permit the Enemy an opening to break our morale. We cannot deny this. The Holy Spirit will shine a light on your sin. He will point out the violations that allowed you to be mugged.
“Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom” [Psalm 51:6],
The Holy Spirit will drive us back to scriptures that confirm our carnal mistakes and expose even our best-kept secret sins.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” [Hebrews 4:12].
Children act like discipline is the end of the world. But loving correction makes them feel secure afterwards. So it is, that when we willingly accept correction, we also feel mighty strength and a sense of relief.
“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” [Hebrews 12:11].
The Comforter is not only central to our power gifts, miracles, attacks, and strategies, but also for the overriding gift of comforting us in our discouragement. He has assured us that he will lavish us with everything needed for our success in war.
Our General is an unending source of comfort. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by Cod” [II Corinthians 1:3-4]. Not only do we get a dose of renewed fight, we can impart it to the soldiers around us who are discouraged.
The commandments of God that we notice most are the ones that require self-denial and sacrifice. There are others, however. that we do not treat as commands. For example, to God, the commandment to “fear not” is every bit as strict as the injunction against adultery. Paul’s demand that the Philippians “. . . rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious. but for you it is safe” [Philippians 3:1].
In John 14, Jesus did not pat the disciples on the head and say, “There. There.” He looked intently at them and ordered. “Peace I leave with you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” [John 14:27].
Willful neglect of your fighting
morale is a Biblical sin against God!