Padre Kim’s Cogitatio on Career versus Family

October 2016


Most of us as soldiers struggle between “career” versus “family” in priorities.  No one wants to neglect either side, nor would anyone wish to ruin them. It is then a challenging task to keep up both successful. Ultimately, it comes down to making a proper balance, but who can boldly say that they have mastered it? If the subject is a challenge in our society in general, it is no less challenging in military. In fact, it is much more difficult, I can say, in the context of military since we—as military—share the ethos that says “mission before self.”


“Mission before self,” however, should not necessarily be confused with the concept of “career oriented.” Both are often mingled in one notion, but they are distinguishable—in fact, they should. Good soldiers are those who sacrifice themselves in professionalism for greater values such as global peace and justice. In doing so, they often—and more likely constantly—face challenges in making proper distinctions between the two subjects. When both sides are mingled and even confused, it results in a tremendous negative impact on self, particularly if one has a family. But who does distinguish them successfully and professionally? It’s an art, I would say. Martin Luther, a 16th C Reformer, said it’s a challenge to properly distinguish between Law (i.e., what to do and what not to do) and Gospel (i.e., what has already been done in divine grace and mercy). Perhaps, it’s an art that requires skills to properly distinguish between “mission before self” and the notion of “career oriented.”

It’s a challenge, we admit. Being difficult, however, doesn’t mean one should give up. If spiritual and mental resilience includes and requires flexibility, professionalism demands a balance between the two, not jeopardizing either side (or even self). After all, we all learn how to do it. Good students are not necessarily those who master on subjects; good and superior masters are, however, those who constantly learn challenging subjects. “Professional” doesn’t mean one has already mastered a subject; it would rather mean continuation in learning the subject yet in a higher level.

Padre Kim