“There are tons of stories out there, and mine are definitely not the craziest or the most dangerous, but they were enough to prick me in my heart and I felt like, ‘I shouldn’t have walked away from that one.’ Moments where other people didn’t, and I did.”
For Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen Stone, it was those moments during his two deployments to Iraq and two to Afghanistan that set him on a journey to answer a question which continued to nag at him: What is faith?
Faith was one of those things that, throughout the years, had always seemed like an untouchable concept, the 18-year Army veteran said.
“It didn’t matter who you asked, every time you asked what ‘faith’ was, it was a different definition for every single person,” Stone said. “I probably should have gotten satisfied at some point, but some (definitions) were really different, and I guess it stirred up in me this giant question: What does it really mean?”
The CH-47F Chinook instructor pilot said he had noticed that faith was the one thing mentioned in the Bible that the lack of having made it impossible to please God.
“To be something that seemed like it was so important, and for everyone to have their own version of it … something was wrong, in my mind — I couldn’t quite put my finger on it,” Stone, with B Company, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment said. “(The search) didn’t initially start as a book, or as a concept or an idea, it was something I was trying to answer for myself.
“It impresses on me even more that God could have said a lot of things in the Bible — he could have said there are a lot of things that are impossible to please him without (having). It could have been love, it could have been grace, mercy, perfection, it could have been acts — but he said faith.”
But as the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade pilot started to narrow down the concept of faith in 2014, he began to feel he had been given a “commission” to write down what he had found, The result was a book called “Faith Initiated,” published in August 2018.
“I needed to write this book, more so for everybody else to help unlock this concept and actually put something into action — to change their environment and to change their lives, for whatever that may look like for them,” Stone said.
The book addresses faith as a spiritual law in the same way CEOs today talk about the concept of giving and receiving: The more you give, the more you receive and the more you grow. If you want to make money, then you give money away and it will continue to come into you.
“Faith is a set spiritual law, and if you take some of those principles you find in the book and activate those things, you can change any area of your life you want and it will become whatever you are speaking it to be, desire it to be,” Stone said. “And these are simple steps — the one key thing about faith, no matter who is giving that definition, is the action piece.”
A lot of times people get stuck in life and don’t know what part of their life to put action to, he said. Often people become so frustrated with one area of their life that they no longer know how to put action to it anymore. Maybe they can no longer find the passion, desire, determination, or emotional motivation to actually put action towards an area of their life, such as their finances or marriage.
“We don’t know how to dig that up anymore. That’s what ‘Faith Initiated’ is really about — breaking the boundaries of our minds, breaking the boundaries of what society or even ourselves say that we are able or not able to do.,” Stone said. “We’re so convinced and filled with policies and rules and laws and procedures, that before we’ll ask the question if it’s possible to go beyond that or move to the next level, we just assume it’s untouchable. We automatically start limiting ourselves instead of looking outside those boundaries. This is meant to be that simple process to help unlock the impossible in our lives.”
What it all boils down to, Stone said, is that faith is about action.
“I’ve included in this book not just biblical references, because this is not strictly from a Christian standpoint,” said Stone, who tries to live his life by his Christian values. “There are quotes in here from the Koran, quotes from atheist scholars, quotes from Hinduism and from the different ways almost every religion uses faith — which even increases the fact it is spiritual law. This is meant to stir action and to realize the smallest, most imperfect action still takes us further and teaches us more than the absolute, most perfect concept. Knowledge alone can’t get us anywhere. It takes action.”
Stone said he was asked recently about putting faith in people and said it’s a very dangerous topic because “we’re all flawed.” So knowing where to place faith is invaluable for a leader, whether that leader is the highest-ranking officer or a young private trying to lead his or her life.
“If I try to put my faith in leadership, or even as a leader to put faith in my soldiers, I’m looking for them to accomplish the task but I’m also looking for perfection,” he said. “I expect it to be on time, I expect it to be just right. And that starts to eliminate grace and mercy. But if I have faith, instead, that everything is going to be all right, and I assign that task to a person without condition and I know that they are flawed, then if they don’t accomplish that task it’s not as big of a deal.”
That little bit of grace and mercy allows those troops to grow, he added.
“They don’t have anyone harping on them, kicking them when they’re down — they already know they failed,” Stone said. “No one wakes up in the morning and wants to fail. And it gives them a little more faith and belief in their leaders — they are in a place where they are allowed to fail but they don’t want to. It gives them a chance to succeed again.
“That’s where I think leaders absolutely need to know about faith — not just for their own lives, but for anything. Whether it is family, loved ones — it doesn’t matter. You can apply it to anything. It gives that room where you can accept someone’s imperfections but still know that everything is going to work out.”
“Faith Initiated” is currently available on Amazon in both E-book and paperback. The E-book edition sells for $7.99 and the paperback for $14.99. For more information, visit www.stephenstone.com.
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