UNION — A local minister thanked the “unsung heroes” of Union County and urged them to find the strength, courage and faith to do their duties through a close, personal relationship with God.
Sheriff David Taylor and the deputies, reserve deputies, jailers and administrative staff of the sheriff’s office were sworn in Wednesday morning during a ceremony in the main courtroom of the Union County Courthouse.
Prior to their being sworn in, the members of the sheriff’s office were addressed by the Rev. David Blanton, director of Missions for the Southern Baptist Association in Union County. Blanton and Taylor are both members of West Springs Baptist Church and Taylor invited Blanton to open and close Wednesday’s ceremony with prayer and serve as guest speaker.
Blanton began his remarks by quoting 1 Corinthians 16:13-14: Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.
Blanton thanked the deputies and other personnel for their service to the community, calling them heroes and pointing out that the scripture he quoted, like the rest of the Bible, has a message for them as they go about their duties.
“On behalf of all the citizens of Union County I want to thank you for all you do,” Blanton said. “You are our heroes in the real sense of the term.
“The scriptures are God’s instruction manual for life for us,” he said. “There are passages that speak to us at different times in our lives. While this scripture was not originally written for deputies, they were written to a group of people who lived in a dangerous world.”
Blanton then took each section of the scripture he’d quoted and showed that while written for the struggling Christians of the First Century, they applied to the experiences of law enforcement personnel in the 21st century.
“Be on you guard paints the pictures of soldiers on watch,” Blanton said. “It speaks of being aware of where you are and what you are doing. Watching and being alert to what is going on around you. You no doubt heard in your training to never let your guard down. The phrase implies that you are in a dangerous profession and you have to keep alert.”
Blanton pointed out that the phrase “stand firm” also calls to mind soldiers on duty.
“Stand firm paints another soldier image, of soldiers standing together shoulder to shoulder, standing their ground, being firm in what they do and watching each other’s back,” Blanton said. “The ability to stand firm is found in faith and while you are going to have faith in each other, in the sheriff, in the sheriff’s office, your ability to stand firm is going to come from faith in God.”
In discussing standing firm through faith, Blanton pointed to the massacres of 27 people including 20 elementary school children in Connecticut in December.
“You are going to be faced with things that are really going to tug at you and make you question what you are doing,” Blanton said. “Stand firm and realize that God is there and is good.”
While the scripture speaks of “men of courage,” Blanton said it is not gender exclusive but in fact means both men and women of courage, people of courage. He also pointed out that the true meaning of courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to be afraid and yet still perform your duties.
“As John Wayne said, courage is being afraid but still getting up on the saddle anyway,” Blanton said. “It is inner fortitude, the working past your emotions. True courage comes from knowing that God will be with us.”
The admonition to be strong involves finding true strength through admitting your weakness and seeking the strength that only God can provide.
“It is not about physical strength, but about spiritual and emotional strength,” Blanton said. “Those who are strongest are those who realize they are weak in themselves and that they’ll find strength in God.”
As for the call to do everything in love, Blanton said some misunderstand the true meaning of the word love.
“Love gets a bad wrap because we often think of it as romantic love, as soft and emotional,” Blanton said. “The word love used in that scripture is the same word used in ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His Son.’ Love is the act of the will, not just a feeling. It is putting the needs of others ahead of your own. Love sticks its neck out for others.”
Blanton concluded by challenging the men and women of the sheriff’s office to be prepared for whatever may come their way in the performance of their duties.
“Most of us in this room will get up and go work with a reasonable guarantee that we’ll come home at the end of the day,” Blanton said. “In your profession you don’t have that guarantee. I challenge you to make sure your relationship with God is personal and real so that if you don’t come home at the end of the day you will know where you are going for all eternity.”
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.