What the Preacher Learned After Becoming a Police Officer

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority:whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”

1 Peter 2:13-17

I have been Preaching now for over 10 years. The early years of my life were spent like everyone else, trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life. I had done everything from bagging groceries, back when employees did that for you, to working in factories, warehouses, construction, and even driving tractor trailers.

Officer A.L. Gilmer
Chaplain/Officer A.L. Gilmer WPD

After getting into full time mission work, youth ministry, prison ministry, men’s ministry, and various other aspects of ministry, I found myself in Eastern North Carolina as the Preacher of a church in Martin County. After a few years there, I found opportunities to volunteer as Chaplain for the local Police Department. I had already been involved with the local fire department so this seemed to just fit in with my desire to be connected with the community.

Most people who know me well, will acknowledge that I am a person who rarely will do things the way most people would do things. This would prove to be true even in this case. I mentioned that I learned some things along the way in life, and in the ministry opportunities I had experienced. One of those lessons is that it is impossible to minister to people if you do not know them or understand what is happening in their lives.

So in this case, I decided that if I am to be the Chaplain of the Police Department, as well as the Fire Department, I needed to know what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. Most importantly, I wanted to know the effects of all of those things on them and their families. The only way to do this was for me to become a cop!

To make a long story short, and get to the point of this blog post, I enrolled in the B.L.E.T. (basic law enforcement training) program at Pitt Community College, I was an over 40 male in a class with 30 some 20 something men and women. After about 4 months, a lot of hard physical work, sleepless days, and awesome support from classmates, I was sworn in as a Police Officer with Williamston Police Department. 

Just like every other officer, I went through field training and then began filling in shifts when needed for the department. I did not work full-time, I simply volunteered my time so that I could stay committed to my duties as the Preacher for the church. By doing this I found myself smack in the middle of the lives of some of those who protect the public from harm day and night!

It was not what I expected, however it was challenging and exciting and stressful at times. Not only do I get to contribute to helping these officers when they are doing their almost impossible jobs, but I also get to help the community in a way that I never could before. To top it all off, I often found myself being able to talk with the officers in the county and be available as the Chaplain. Which was the main goal in the first place. 

So what did I learn after becoming a police officer? Well, out all the many things I learned about people, Law Enforcement, and myself, the one thing that stands out quite often is what we were warned about during the first day of B.L.E.T. class.

“You will lose friend, and people will look at you different.” That is what we were told by our instructors about becoming police officers. At first I did not believe it. But after I was sworn in and especially after people saw me wearing the police uniform, I found that it was true. It could not be ignored.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, looked at me in a different light. I do not believe that I “lost all my friends” but everyone treated me differently. Most of the time in what seemed to be a negative way. Most, do not even realize that they are doing it. Some do.

What I had not noticed so much until then was that this same thing was true after I was ordained to become a Preacher. Especially after I accepted a position with the actual title “Preacher”! Even then, everyone I knew suddenly had a different perspective about who I am, and it showed in how they behaved around me. 

Officer Gilmer
Chaplain/Officer A.L. Gilmer WPD

I have found so many similarities in being a Police Officer and being a Preacher. To give you a short list; There are times when everyone loves the Police. The same is true for the Preacher. There are times when everyone hates the Police. The same is true for the Preacher.

Everyone wants to say they are friends with the Police. The same is true for the Preacher. Nobody wants the Police invited to their parties. The same is true for the Preacher. The Police officer has one of the most stressful, disrespected, thankless and in the trenches dirty jobs. The same is true for the Preacher.

When society as a whole feels happy and safe, the Police Officer is praised and celebrated. The same is true for the Preacher. When the Police Officer does his/her job and exercises authority, the offender resists and fights back. The same is true for the Preacher. The fact is that there are good and bad Police Officers. The same is true for the Preachers. 

So what this Preacher has learned by becoming a Police Officer is that people have a deeply rooted problem with authority! We have had it since Adam and Eve, and we always will. That is why we need God’s solution, Jesus on the cross. 

Oh, one last thing I have learned that Police Officers and Preachers have in common, they both get up everyday and prepare to do it all over again, regardless of how the day before went. Because it is who they are! 

God’s Speed.

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