For far too long there has been this imaginary ideological organizational structure which told us (erroneously) that the corps and front-line ministries were at the bottom of The Salvation Army pecking order. Honestly I don’t really get caught up in “who is first” or “who is most important”, yet at times there is this unspoken notion of “climbing the corporate ladder” even in The Salvation Army. As if corps ministry and front-line evangelism is somewhat lacking in prestige and importance. Let me make this absolutely clear – If anyone in our Army has signed up for the express purpose of “climbing the ladder” and to “get out of corps ministry” then perhaps that person should consider finding another army to belong to.
The Army isn’t the only place this happens (obvious statement, I know). The disciples of Jesus had witnessed many miracles and wonders performed by their Rabbi -Jesus and they began to argue amongst themselves about who would be greater. You can almost hear their ego driven argument, “No, I’m clearly the better speaker”, “But I’m better looking in uniform” (I had to put that in there), “Well, I am so much better with finances”, “Oh yeah, but I have better administration skills“…
According to Luke 9:48 Jesus knew their thoughts and cut them off -“Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”
Holiness & Humility:
If we could only stop this petty self-defeating ladder climbing mentality. If only we could keep our eyes on what is most important – Being Holy people and from this allowing the Holy Spirit to transform lives through our actions of evangelism. If only we could stop looking over the fence at that other corps which seems more prestigious and more prosperous than ours as we covet what they have. If only we could stop looking at DHQ or THQ as “the next step in our careers”. If only, if only, if only… Why is it that we humans, as imperfect as we are, always seem to be so success focused? Shouldn’t we consider what the Lord said to Samuel when anointing the next (God appointed) king of Israel; “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
How are our hearts? Isn’t serving God with our everything enough? Isn’t being loved by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords prestigious enough?
I have included a couple of diagrams today to help us understand how the true model of leadership and ministry SHOULD look like…and I hope this helps:
What this diagram represents is the way most organizations and businesses are run in our world today. From the top down. But, if we are led by humility and holiness, we would understand that “the least of these” must begin from the bottom – up. Not to imply that we place leadership at the bottom or that administration isn’t important, but rather for us to understand that without active evangelism and the dispensing of God’s love and grace we run risk of losing everything and having nothing to show for our polished efforts. If the terms are confusing to you then let me illustrate this (in my best hand writing
…please don’t laugh)
Turning Things On Its Head:
For far too long men and women of our Army have gone about “position” all wrong. Yes we need administration and leadership but what is our primary purpose? What is that one principle upon which we are an Army? Christ-then Others! If we only look at Salvation Army structure as ranks and office then we are only reflecting worldly hierarchical organizational -money driven, success oriented models, which are rife with politics, maneuvering, ego-driven leadership, power hungry people. Are we an Army dependent upon these things? NO! It cannot be that way with us! It should not be that way with us…and yet at times it has become inexplicably linked with our internal identities. We must continually turn this identity upside down! We must guard our hearts from pride and arrogance and the pursuit of “position” within our Army. It was never about what rank was placed upon our shoulders. It was never about what position we held at the corps or divisional headquarters, or territorial headquarters or any other “headquarters”…it IS about serving Christ humbly and from this one vital relationship (our first love) all things ought to flow in our ministries.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
This is something further our Army must continuously ponder…to God be the glory!
Please, tell me what you think by commenting below and leaving responses…let’s continue this dialogue together!