Thinking Out Loud: Wingmen!

The United States Air Force defines “wingman” as a pilot who supports another pilot in a potentially dangerous flying environment – to add an element of mutual support.  The presence of a wingman makes the flight both offensively and defensively more capable by increasing situational awareness.  The wingman’s mere presence minimizes attack by the enemy and increases the ability to employ more dynamic tactics.  The wingman protects the lead pilot by watching his back.

As a Christian man;  is a wingman important?

A wingman is another set of eyes, ears and brain, providing mutual support. The Christian community often refers to wingmen as accountability partners.  Using an illustration of God as your commanding officer, you as lead pilot and your accountability partner as wingman, many spiritual parallels are clear.

Being a wingman requires faith in the leader and devotion to the cause. Trust is a critical element because you must trust so many to get home safely. The relationship between you and your wingmen often is conducted in dangerous (spiritual) environments.  The value of wingmen is best illustrated when the lead pilot experiences spatial disorientation.  As believers, we too can often be unaware we are flying upside down or straight into the ground. Who but our heavenly commanding officer, or a good wingman could spare us from disaster?

Though, I am no pilot, I have been fortunate to have many quality spiritual wingmen over the years.  They have provided me wise counsel, assisted me in critical decision-making and pointed me in the right direction. They have encouraged me, held me up when I was falling, and spared me from danger. Their role in my life has been invaluable.

Proverbs 27:17 gives us a clue: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

I currently have 11 wingmen.  That may actually be too many, but I am fortunate in that most offer a specific specialty in some form–thus the reason for having 11.  (Plus, the more the better when going to war.)  My wingmen have been carefully chosen and tested over time.  They know my strengths and weaknesses.  We worship together, pray together, laugh together and occasionally we cry together (but don’t tell anyone).  We are transparent with each other.  We encourage, serve as sounding boards, tactfully confront, and “bust each other’s chops.”  We are brutally honest with each other. When I have a problem, I try to pray first, and then I go looking for just the right wingman.  We watch each other’s backs, and we battle Satan together.  I certainly don’t consult all of them on every issue—too much dissolution of energy—but hardly a day goes by that I don’t consult one or more of them for advice.  I’m not super spiritual; I just need a lot of help.

We meet in person, we text, we email, and speak on the phone.  Many of us have graduated from the barroom to the prayer closet.  We’ve been known to pray using any one of these communication methods.  We share Scripture. Wingmen can also be wingwomen, but most recommend staying within your own gender (except for spouse and family) when it comes to accountability.

We, like pilots, must keep our eyes on the target (Spiritual Warfare with the enemy).  We must make sure we are following the right leader (Jesus Christ).  We must trust our leader and place our faith in Him.  We need to also trust our wingmen for guidance and offer some value in return.  Wingmen play a critical role in executing the mission laid out by our commanding office—God.

My wingmen do not fly planes nor do they serve where their physical lives are in danger.  They are ordinary guys who are all (and their families) in similar spiritual danger, and all searching for the same answers.  They believe in personal responsibility, but they don’t believe in flying solo.  They are there when I need them.  They are available and they respond without hesitation. Wingmen are good listeners, they can’t always save you, but they often do.  Wingmen hopefully get stronger together.  I believe God often speaks through wingmen.

For example, one of our brave comrades recently approached by another one of our wingmen, and firmly told him that he was getting too close emotionally too soon to a certain person, and that it would take him where he didn’t need to be.  The approached brother bristled at his suggestion until he thought about it for a few days.  He later called his brother wingmen in the Lord and thanked him.

I am grateful for my wingmen.  It’s an exciting privilege to share in adventures and serve alongside as we all attempt to execute the mission laid out by our commanding officer.

How are your wingmen doing in this area?  Do you have any?  Are they dependable, honest and transparent with you and you with them?  Just thinking out loud with you.