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May Chaplain's Reflection

U.S. Air Force Capt. Christina Pittman, 169th Fighter Wing Chaplain at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina Air National Guard, poses for her portrait, Jan. 13, 2014.   (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Christina Pittman, 169th Fighter Wing Chaplain at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina Air National Guard, poses for her portrait, Jan. 13, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- Every person is unique with different personalities and experiences which make up the truth we live by and govern our lives. Consciously putting ourselves in another person's shoes helps us relate and connect to each other. In this diverse culture of the Air National Guard there are many opportunities to change our vantage point and see each other through new lenses. My experiences in my family of origin helped shape me into the Airman I am today. What are some experiences you had growing up that changed your perspective?

As a child my family would travel cross country between California and South Carolina to visit relatives. The days were long as we ventured through the countryside taking in all the views of a changing terrain. The highlight each evening was scoping out a motel with a pool so my brother and I could swim and work out our energy. Swimming at the end of a long car ride was a great reward. However, as an adult I realize besides spending time with my family the greatest benefit was the perspective I gained looking out my window and seeing the scenery gradually change day to day. 

Broadening my perspective of our nation added to the fullness of my life. For instance, I have a new appreciation for the splendor of the Grand Canyon. I can place myself on the edge of the massive canyon wall and recall the miniature river below and see trail riders on donkeys walking along the basin like tiny ants. Of course the Colorado River feeding into the Grand Canyon is not miniature and the donkeys are definitely larger than ants. Comparing the two vantage points helped me gain more information I can relate to as I study topics like geography and history. Because I actually visited the Grand Canyon, I have a new perspective when I read about it and look at pictures in a book. No one can take my experience away from me.

Likewise, in this vast Air Force of diversity each person brings a valuable perspective that is worth hearing. Giving each other the respect to bring our views to the table benefits the whole organization. Talking and getting to know one another builds relationships of trust.  Sometimes we get so busy we forget to listen to the people around us. Leading others comes more easily through emotional connection. This connection can be achieved by putting people first and getting to know each other as much as we know our planes, machinery, and specialties. 

The Bible offers many examples on how to put people first. In the Old Testament it says, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 18:19, NIV). In the New Testament, Jesus switches the Pharisees' perspective when confronted about healing on the Sabbath, or day of rest (Matthew 12:1-13). Jesus shared, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?  How much more valuable is a man than a sheep!  Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath," (Matthew 11-12, NIV). Jesus' perspective to heal on the Sabbath over rode the legalistic perspective of the Pharisees to not do work of any kind on the Sabbath. I am encouraged by examples in scripture where, putting people first is never a wrong perspective.

As we go through our day may we all reflect on how we can shift our perspective to view life through another person's eyes. You may be viewing into the canyon valley from above while the person next to you is in the valley basin seeing a totally different perspective. We will all win by shifting our perspective to another person's vantage point while offering respect and value in the relationship.