The Modern Knight

principles | PURPOSE | perspective

Warrior, Servant, Leader: Three Parts of One Calling


Thanks to guest blogger Pat Welsh for allowing his post (originally appearing at to be reprinted here. A powerful message that I could not have said any better…

Warrior, Servant, Leader – three words not typically associated with cops. People hear the word COP and most picture a guy in uniform, gun, badge, and handcuffs arresting someone or racing down the street with lights and siren screaming “get out of my way!” If someone is stopped by a cop, they secretly say, “Why is he harassing me?” If you need a cop, one is never around. If you are a cop, some days you wish “being stupid” was a crime so you could take everyone you meet to jail.

This is a look at Warriors, Servants and Leaders who wear the law enforcement. It is a look most people never get to take and cops don’t talk about – life behind the badge.

A little background is in order, to help you appreciate where I am coming from and some of the influences that have shaped my own journey as a Warrior, Servant and Leader.

I was trained and worked as a lawyer, before becoming a cop. Yep, I was a prosecutor for 4 years and at the age of 28 changed careers. I followed my passion and dream when I was sworn in as a cop in Dayton, Ohio.

As I spent 26 years, from rookie to major, on the killing streets of one of the top 25 most violent cities in America with a population of at least 150,000 people. I learned many lessons about life, death, hard heartedness, defeat, victory, and most importantly the Warrior-Servant-Leader Code.

As you read on I hope I add some value to your life and your understanding of life behind the badge. I also hope you are challenged to find your own Warrior, Servant, Leader vision, whether you are a cop or not. I hope you understand and adopt the Warrior-Servant-Leader Code for your own life and live it out every day, in everything you do.


The term Warrior was first used in the 14th century, denoting “A man engaged or experienced in warfare.” as defined in the Webster Dictionary. The word has its origins in the old world word “werre”, meaning war. Thus, historically, a warrior always referred to a soldier-like male fighting in a war.

In more modern times, a warrior has been defined as a person who fights in battles and displays courage and skill. Most people still think of a warrior as a modern day soldier or old world Samurai or Knight of the Round Table. But a warrior is much more than these stereotypes.

Cops are Warriors – they fight battles. For cops, the battles they fight are typically characterized by the term “fighting crime”. Fictional warriors, like Batman and Superman, are always hailed as “crime fighters”. Cops are perceived as crime fighters and law enforcers.

But they are much more than that. They even fight battles they dare not speak of – battles within themselves. The toughest battle is the one to not give up – on themselves, on their community, on their families. Fighting battles takes a lot of a person – like empathy, love, sorrow and hope.

Cops are expected to display courage and skill as they fight these battles, protecting the innocent citizen from falling prey to the enemy, “bad guys”. Cops go through months of intense crime fighting training – firearms, close quarter combat skills, the use of Taser’s, OC spray, and batons and defensive high speed driving. It all sounds so glamorous and made for television drama.

What these warriors aren’t taught is how to live and work in a society that seems to have no clue who they are or what they experience. They aren’t taught how to suppress their emotions at the scene of an infant death, caused by a drunk or high mother who rolled over their baby in their drunken/drug stupor. They learn this skill by going through the trauma – it’s not easily taught by a veteran cop who has been there many times. Being an unappreciated warrior is tough.

In reality, police work is long periods of extreme boredom, interrupted by moments of sheer terror. Television shows and movies seem fixated on the “running and gunning” part of policing. They leave out the countless hours of paper work, sitting in the hallway of the courthouse and fighting to stay awake in a cruiser at 4:00 a.m., on a freezing cold, dark January night – nights when even the crack heads and prostitutes won’t venture outdoors. But cops must remain vigilant and ready to spring into life or death action.

But it’s not just at work that cops fight daily battles with courage and skill. Cop’s as parents are warriors as they fight the battles of raising and protecting their children. Cops and their spouses are warriors as they fight the battles against the forces trying to destroy their marriages. Cops just don’t talk about these battles. Battles they sometimes lose. For cops, it is their daily duty to be a Warrior – on and off duty. Life behind the badge is tough.


The term servant has a wide variety of meaning to a wide variety of people. For English speaking learners, the word typically refers to a person hired by another to perform some sort of work or duty.

The terms public servant or civil servant refers to a government employee. During slavery, the name servant had the stigmatism of a person being property owned by a wealthy landowner who had a duty to do whatever their “master” told them to do – not any different than the horses in the stable. For most folks, at least in the Western World, being a servant is not a badge of honor.

Yet for cops, servanthood is part of their duty as a “government employee.” You can see it on most cruisers: Protect and Serve. The question most often asked of prospective police recruits is this: “Why do you want to be a cop?” The answer most often given – “I want to help people.”

Sadly, the stereotype of “servants” from the days of old is still alive and well today when it comes to cops. Admit it, how many times have you heard it said to a cop: “I pay your salary!”? Deep down, the message being received by the cop is, “I own you!” And we must not forget the ever so popular statement – “I’ll have your badge for this!” Yet, folks still expect cops to “serve” them and their communities.

Being a Servant for cops is a tough and mostly thankless job. Being a servant is a matter of attitude, not a phony platitude. Most cops will serve the public and their fellow officers because that is what they are at their core – Warrior Servants. By the way, all real Leaders are first real Servants.

Unfortunately, many cops fail to see this servant aspect of their calling. They just want to “run and gun”, like on TV. I have heard officers comment, “If I wanted to help people I would have become a firefighter or paramedic. My job is to put bad guys behind bars or in a box.” To me, this is a sad and scary portrait of a peace officer – for the officers and their communities. It is this very attitude that creates the animosity that exists between many citizens and the police.


What is a leader? Is it anyone who has followers? You’ve heard the expression, “If you think you are leading and no one is following, you are just taking a walk.” Some folks I know have hundreds, even thousands of “Followers” on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Does that make them a leader? Or is it more than that?

My friend and mentor, John Maxwell, says this about leadership, “Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less” I have studied leadership, reflected on it, and put into action leadership principles. And I think John is right. Leadership at its most basic level is influence. There are many qualities leaders have, but essentially a leader is a person who influences others.

Leaders have visions, goals and objectives, for themselves and others. At their core, leaders influence others to buys into those visions, goals and objectives and then achieve them.

All leaders are servants first. True leaders are not selfish, they are selfless. They think more about others and less about themselves. This isn’t some sort of false humility. True leaders recognize that helping others first get what they desire and dream about will help them reach their own dreams and visions along the way.

Cops are called to be leaders. I am not talking about “positional leadership” – getting promoted up the ranks does not make a cop a true leader. Just being the founder or CEO doesn’t make one a true leader in a company or industry. Cops have influence and can impact the future of their departments and communities. Of course, they can be bad leaders.

So what is test of real leadership? My friend, mentor, colleague, and former cop William Stanton Westfall put the test of real leadership into the form of 4 questions:

Are you doing the right thing?

Are you doing it at the right time?

Are you doing it in the right way?

Are you doing it for the right reasons?

Leaders answer these four questions and influence others to do the same.

The Warrior-Servant-Leader Code

I am a Warrior-Servant-Leader.

It is my duty in all that I do to Protect, Serve and Lead others with all my heart, mind and soul.

I will Protect with courage.

I will Serve with humility.

I will Lead with compassion.

In all my thoughts, words and actions I will ask myself:

Am I doing the right thing? At the right time? In the right way? For the right reasons?

I will always strive to live up to my duty and not blame others when I fail.

I will always strive to grow in my knowledge, understanding and skills of being a true Warrior-Servant-Leader.

I am a Warrior-Servant-Leader.

What is your Code?


Pat Welsh is the Founder and President of PJ Welsh and Associates, LLC. Mr. Welsh retired in April 2012, as Major, West Patrol Operations Division on the Dayton Police Department. He was recognized throughout his 26 year career in Patrol, Narcotics, and Investigations by such groups as the FBI, the United States Secret Service, the National Police Athletic League, and the Dayton Police Department. A graduate of the FBINA and Police Executive Leadership College, Mr. Welsh specializes in law enforcement training, keynote speaking and coaching services. Mr. Welsh is also a Certified Speaker, Teacher and Coach with the John C. Maxwell Team.

Visit, or contact Mr. Welsh at

1 Comment

Add a Comment
  1. This article help out alot

    Mr. John Mericle

The Modern Knight © 2010-2016 Frontier Theme