Dear Salvation Army – Officership: Are We Settling For The Willing But Not The Able?

In a continuation of the conversation yesterday –

Perhaps another discussion could be broached within this specific topic…Officership.
It might sound raw and perhaps it may sting a little but here goes…

We have probably all witnessed the struggle our Army has had in some regions of the world recently to recruit and commission able bodied Officers. As the “World for God” extends into new communities and frontiers we find more and more that we are running low on willing and able personnel to fill these appointments.

Questions we must ponder on this issue:
Why are we so short on soldiers to fill our ranks as future officers?
What can be done to continue to “fill the world with glory” and still produce quality officers to boldly proclaim the name of Christ? Are we out of touch with younger generations? Could it be that the uniform is to blame? Are there just more opportunities now that weren’t there before to other generations?
Are we losing quality soldiers in our Army who could be future officers because new opportunities outside of the Army in other ministries and even vocations takes them away?

Secondly, has it become quantity over quality?

All too often I question if we as an Army have pushed too hard to produce in quantity new red trimmed Officers while at the same time we have failed to adequately prepare them for the work ahead. I question whether this push has elevated some who are willing but might never be able to fulfill such a calling. Please don’t misinterpret that statement to sound pretentious or arrogant, but perhaps at times we do settle for the willing over the willing and able to meet certain “quotas” of officers in territories. I also do not want to short change the work of the Holy Spirit here within this “calling”. I know full well that the Holy Spirit can and will call those to lead in our Army but within our methods of recruitment towards potential future officers are we forcing results?


Sometimes there is this atmosphere of panic in the Army. Perhaps it is never spoken but it is felt when the list of accepted candidates comes out and for some reason it seems rather small (compared to other “more bountiful years”). Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying and I don’t wish to imply anything negatively here, but there is a perception of numeric success even within these lists of potential future officers. It makes me question if at times our push for more and more candidates creates a notion that Officership is for everyone, when it is in fact a calling not specifically a profession. I don’t mean to elevate this position above anything else within our Army because everything serves a purpose, but when we commission some who really weren’t called but simply signed up because it was convenient or pushed upon them…are we selling ourselves short? Are we really being faithful to God? Will God honor this sort of selection? To be fair we must recognize that this isn’t always the norm…but have certain territories hit the panic button in recent years?

Wrong Reasons For Becoming An Officer
(Erroneous Ones As Well)
#1 Free House
#2 Free Vehicle
#3 The Pay
#4 The Adventure of Moving
#5 Pressured into it
#6 No Other Prospects of Employment
#7 Always Wanted to Wear Red Trim

There are many more wrong reasons why some want or have become officers. Some on this list may seem silly to you, but I have heard some of these rationales from real people. Granted in some territories the concept of becoming an Officer may seem like a safe, comfortable choice of vocations. Many fail to recognize the demands of such a calling. The life of an Officer is not glamorous or flashy. It is not easy at times. Sure there are blessings associated with the calling to become an Officer but there are burdens as well. <<This is why I will probably NEVER be asked to become any kind of candidate secretary>>>…I do not want to sugar coat the ministry of our Army.

Honorable Reasons For Becoming An Officer
#1 You have felt God’s calling on Your Life to make this decision.
#2 This isn’t “plan B” but a passion to serve the Lord as an Officer.
#3 You have strong desire to serve other people from every walk of life.
#4 You are prepared to serve in the good times and in the not so good times.
#5 You have a passion for holiness and are currently responding to God’s prodding on your life.

There are more honorable reasons for becoming an Officer but these are just a few the spring to mind while in this conversation.

fighting on

For Territorial, Divisional, & Corps –
Beware of pushing people into “the ministry” of Officership. We all recognize the need to fill appointments and to have sufficient personnel on the field…but perhaps at times we have to trust in the Lord more than we do. We have to trust that He is going to provide the right people for the right appointing. This doesn’t mean we don’t put that call out for more candidates, it simply means that perhaps we wait a little longer on the Lord to provide willing AND able Men and Women for this sacred duty.

For Soldiers & Potential Candidates
Beware of jumping too quickly into a full-time ministry as a Candidate or potential Officer. Pray in earnest for the right direction. Pray for God to reveal to you His path for your life. I am not discouraging anyone from becoming an Officer but make sure your decision to “sign up” is for the right reasons, not the wrong ones. Talk it over with family and friends and talk it over with your Corps Officer. We need Officers in our Army but at the same time do not sell yourself short or sell the Army short and settle for being willing but not able to fulfill such a arduous calling.

“Get On With It!”
Perhaps the panic button has been hit a time or two in various territories, but I also know that there are some very godly men and women leading the charge to recruit and to commission new Officers of The Salvation Army. It is not a glamorous lot, but it is a vital role to play. Are you willing AND able? For soldiers and officers who are neither willing nor able I would advise you do one of two things – Pray for the Lord to restore your ministry and passion for the lost souls in your communities and get on with it or get out of the way so that others may rise up and take your place. This may sound harsh, but if we do not have holy sanctified officers or future holy sanctified officers rising up we will have lost our mission and vision as an Army. God forgive us if we lose sight of His purpose for our lives and for the hope of restoration to the lost. Get on with it!

I never thought I would be discussing this today…but praise the Lord for His leading! Something further for our Army to ponder.


6 thoughts on “Dear Salvation Army – Officership: Are We Settling For The Willing But Not The Able?

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  1. As a former prospective candidate… I can say I was willing but I’m not able. Therefore I did not want to burden the Army with my shortcomings. “But God will change you and He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called!” they say! Yes but I feel that if it is His desire that I serve Him in that capacity He will qualify me before I move into 700 W Brompton.

    It is a touchy issue but I do feel our current Army culture has pushed quantity over quality. We spout off numbers about how we are desperate for officers. We drag on calls to officership until we get the response desired to fill a stat line. I’m sorry if that’s not the case but that’s how it is perceived amongst the audience. This also applies to regular altar calls but I won’t go into that now haha.

    My personal feeling, and take this for what it’s worth, is that if someone is called to be an officer they will be either A) approached by their corps officer who should be the recruiter or B) they will approach their officer about it. Turning it into a required part of a meeting glamorizes it and makes it about their “public obedience to the call” yet all they care about is going up because a friend of theirs or a cute person goes up as well. I’m not saying all of those who go forward have false motives or intentions, but as I said, speaking from experience, I know this to be the case.

    That’s all to my rant at the moment 🙂 Thanks for the great words Scott.

  2. I know people will not agree with me, and that I am in the minority. However, I feel that the Army becoming a Church ( which it always has been – I know, and agree). But we push it as such now, and I feel the Army was a special place, and this has now gone. The Army have so many different uniforms which make us (in my opinion) a little silly, one uniform should suffice. We let people now join outside bands, and I can understand that a good player might want a challenge that a small Corps band couldn’t offer, but then the outside band becomes the main one, and the Army comes second place. I also agree that officers are not the same as they used to be, I cannot remember the last time I felt the moving of the. Holy Spirit in a meeting, well actually I can and I won’t embarrass the Major concerned, and this must be a lack of something in the person. Meetings today are filled with recordings and videos, mostly not Army. I know I am an old dinahsaur, but I for one feel that this is not my Army anymore. I still attend all the meetings, but something is lacking. If I wanted a church, I would go to a Church. I love the Army and really miss the proper Army. This is my opinion, which I am entitled too, and I am sure I will get adverse comments for my remarks! I still believe the Band and Songsters have a large place in the Army’s tool kit, to use and when required. I still believe we should take part in open airs and take the message to the people. I have heard excuses such as, people aren’t interested as they are on their computer etc. etc. I also hear that we are so busy, that we didn’t have time for open airs – and so places cancel the evening meetings! I feel that at times we give God what is left and not what is right. I really hope and pray that the Army continues for another 150 years!

  3. One of the problems is the growing emphasis on “education” – someone now has to have a certain level of education before being accepted. I don’t agree with the premise that it is “education” that makes a person able to be an officer. In our rush to become a “church” we have loaded up our requirements with what the world sees as needed and important. Let’s face it folks, if someone who has heard a calling from God and is reasonably literate – isn’t it a reasonable assumption that God will make that person able through the gift of the Holy Spirit? Or, have we forgotten that it is God who enables us in our ministry – not man. I know I’ve opened a can of worms here, but after all, didn’t we used to do “fishing” in our meetings – or is any else old enough to remember? 🙂

  4. I’ve seen people say “I’m called” and that I’m ready to be a officer and I’ve been there. I thought I was ready at one point but then I was not, but now I am. There has been lots of talk where people are saying Corps officers are not backing there people to go into training but DHQ is sending them any way. It makes me sad that the Army is not trusting there leadership and there wisdom. In this day in age the Army needs to trust the Lord more then ever.

  5. There seems to be a fundamental contradiction or conundrum in your article…

    You state that there seems to be a conflict of quantity over quality and that Sal Army administration may be buckling to the pressure of filling quotas for new personnel. You also state, “ It makes me question if at times our push for more and more candidates creates a notion that Officership is for everyone, when it is in fact a calling not specifically a profession.”

    The contradiction and/or conundrum is this: If officership is exclusively a “calling” and the numbers are not there to sustain current ministry needs- your problem is bigger than who is willing vs. who is willing and able… the problem is, why is God not calling the requisite number of people to fill the need of the ministry He has raised up? And why is Administration put in the position to make the determination of who is called and who is not in place of the One who calls? Why is there an effort to recruit if this is not a profession, but rather a calling?

    That is about as blunt a point as I can put on the issue. But it goes to show that it is a bit more complicated than quality over quantity.

    Maybe God is calling the number of people He wants, and wants the Army to be smaller, not bigger so that it can focus its efforts more effectively?

    Maybe God is providing quantity and quality, but our standards of what an “able” officer is needs to be adjusted away from romanticized and idealized caricatures of officership to reflect the changes, challenges and demands officers now face that require a different approach, mentality, and set of skills than what has been expected in the past.

    Or Perhaps…

    Maybe God’s understanding of ‘calling’ differs from what we as the Army has conceived of it and portrayed it and is calling the Army to think differently about how it approaches this whole topic of calling in order to be in better alignment with God’s thinking on the subject.

    If we believe that God is sovereign over all the resources we need in order to do the ministry we believe He has raised up, and the resources are not there…. Then we better get on our faces before the Lord and implore Him to reveal to us what we’re missing… what we lack…. what is necessary…. He may in fact be trying to get our attention! The question is… are we willing and able to respond to whatever he calls us to do?

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