The Protector Mindset in the Face of Tragedy

Like others with the Protector Mindset, I watch the tragic events at places like Uvalde, Parkland or Sutherland Spring. For someone who does what I do in the church and tactical worlds, events like these must be studied. We immerse ourselves in news accounts, trying to learn what lessons can be learned to help us create safer environments for our churches, our families, and our community. Different emotions, from sorrow to anger, flood, recede and flood again. That’s normal. Most decent human beings will feel all of those.

That Feeling

Many of you are like me though. There’s another feeling. It’s possibly more powerful than all of those other feelings and it’s the one that doesn’t want to go away. It’s so strong, yet when you try to explain it, the words don’t seem adequate. I have tried to explain it for years and I still don’t think I have done it well. It’s sort of like trying to explain the feeling you felt when you became a parent. It is an incredibly powerful feeling, but hard to define. The feeling I’m talking about here is “If only I had been there”

I suspect many of you see events like Uvalde or First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and think “If only I had been there.” No, you’re not feeling it because you desire a fight. You’ll avoid a conflict if you can. No, you don’t have some deviant desire to kill a person, nor is it some self-aggrandizing hero complex. You feel it because that’s how you are wired. God built you with an instinct to protect people. When God knitted you together in your mother’s womb, he added that sheepdog strand to your DNA. 

A few years ago, I asked some of the high-level leaders in our church safety team why they served in that capacity. One of them immediately replied, “I believe I was created to protect people in any way required.” He went on to explain that protection could be physical or spiritual. I’ve known this man for years now and you won’t find a stronger protector mindset than his.

It’s Not All On You

Human trafficking activist Christine Caine said, “Everybody is called to do something, but no one is called to do everything.” I know that tactically speaking, even if I had been on that campus at Parkland, chances are that I wouldn’t have been close to the shooter and many would have been injured before I could get close enough. In my head, I know that to be true, but my heart screams “If only I had been there.” 

So, what am I saying? To be honest, I have no answers. I’m not even used to talking about my feelings, let alone trying to explain one like this. Perhaps this article is just me talking it out and I may not even publish it. Or maybe the purpose here is just to let you know that it’s not just you that thinks “If only I had been there.” You’re not crazy. There’s nothing strange about it. You’re just the protector that God made you to be.

Train. Learn. Ask “what’s next” and “what can I do now”. Prepare for the day that you may be there….. and pray that day never has to happen. 

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