Have you ever had someone’s back but came to realize they didn’t have yours? Yeah, me too. Or maybe you think you have someone’s back, but have yet to realize you really don’t.
I’m reminded of a scene in Remember the Titans, in which Bertier, the football team’s defense captain, and Julius, the left side linebacker, finally have a heart-to-heart encounter:
Julius: You got a job?
Bertier: I’ve got a job.
Julius: You been doing your job?
Bertier: I’ve been doing my job.
Julius: Then why don’t you tell your white buddies to block for Rev better? Because they have not blocked for him worth a blood nickel, and you know it! Nobody plays! Yourself included! I’m supposed to wear myself out for the team? What team? Nah, nah. What I’m gonna do is look out for myself, and I’ma get mine.
Bertier: See man, that’s the worst attitude I ever heard.
Julius: Attitude reflects leadership, captain.
I asked a few people to share their thoughts and experiences in order to get a sense of what it really means and how important it is to have someone’s back.
From a former Navy SEAL:
There must be complete trust…not “I think he does” or “I wonder…” By then it’s too late. When a squad or platoon LEADER is “inept” it creates a real ‘double whammy because now, you have to wonder about the success (much less survival) of the entire mission! There is simply no room for it – none.
In one instance, after a ‘raid’, the usual routine is to ‘fall back’ to our pickup point and be extracted. In doing so, it is a leap-frog method the guys in front of you fire a burst (to keep the enemy’s heads down) and then they move back PAST you as you cover for them the same way: fire and fall back – fire and fall back; leapfrogging those directly behind you to support them til everyone is back home safely.
Now suppose you have fired off your rounds and quickly retreat, only to discover the men behind you have disappeared! You trusted them to cover your back! It’s their responsibility! Now you are faced with a rapidly advancing enemy and you have no support. There is a rise in panic and fear mixed with uncertainty, anger and that sense of being abandoned. It requires almost superhuman mental discipline to work a solution and IF you are lucky enough to get back home, you will never trust that group again – the fear and doubt will always be in your mind.
From a former Navy Seabee:
When I was stationed in VA, I have nothing but great memories of my people having my back big time. We were a tight group of men and women. When I was in Puerto Rico, I worked with a bunch of non-Seabees, and we didn’t get along, and they deff did not have my back… and we butted heads all the time… in those cases you feel alone and put into a corner.. so you don’t care to do more than is required. I would have done anything for my boss in VA. He had our back and made us feel important…
From Harley owners:
It’s always a good feeling knowing that MOST will be there for you when you need a hand. There are some who obviously are about number one and would not give a second thought about helping out rather just driving on by (per se). Then it just makes you a bit angry.
In response to a question by a friend as to why Harley owners dress in everything Harley, a Harley owner said, “It’s just like baseball or football. U support ur team.”
From a gamer:
Fulfilling one’s role is important, and although one might go outside of his/her designated role to help someone else, or “have their back”, in doing so, that person will not be able to devote 100% to his/her own role or task. In a team environment, however, communication with the rest of the team helps everyone have each others’ backs and the lines of roles and designated tasks begin to blur…. Communication is key to helping everyone fulfill their roles, even when unexpected things happen. You could do your role perfectly, and so could 10 other people, but if just one person doesn’t do his role correctly, everything could fall apart and be worse than if all 12 people had done their job 90% instead of 11 people at 100%. Unexpected things happen, and sometimes everything works out perfectly. On the whole, however, things won’t work out perfectly, so we must come together as a team and communicate to fill the voids in order that the outcome, while not perfect, is optimal for the situation.
Although it’s possible to have someone’s back when they don’t have yours, it’s very difficult, and you can’t be nearly as effective when you have to watch your own back as well as theirs. Such was the case with King Saul and David after Saul became intimidated by David’s success and popularity and tried to kill him. While Saul was relieving himself in a cave where David and his men were hiding, David cut off a corner of Saul’s robe but spared his life even though David’s men encouraged him to strike Saul down. David also kept his men from attacking. He continued to have Saul’s back despite the fact that Saul had turned against him. (1 Samuel 24; 2 Samuel 21:10-14) Not only had Saul sought to kill David, but he spread falsehoods about him too– things he thought were true, but weren’t, and he even emotionally alienated his own son, Jonathan. If only Saul had not allowed pride and insecurity to get in the way, he would have realized just how valuable David and Jonathan were to him and the kingdom.
I am comforted in knowing God has my back, even though I’ve wondered at times if He does. When I consider everything, even if I still don’t fully understand, I can see evidence of His loving presence and protection. While Isaiah 58 lists some conditions, Isaiah 58:8, 9 say, “Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’” Did you see it? “…the LORD shall be your rear guard” means He’s got your back! But not everything is about you– or me. A seminary professor paraphrased Hendrik Berkhof, a Dutch theologian, in saying, “The wisdom of God will bring about the best possible results, by the best possible means, for the most possible people, for the longest possible time.” God promises that He will not abandon His people. In other words He’s saying, “I’ve got your back.”