Please do not misunderstand these letter that I have felt compelled to write. They are not meant to injure or cause strife within our Army. Instead, I have felt rather strongly that we can improve, we can do better, we still have room to grow. If you have read one of these letters and perhaps interpreted these thoughts as destructive or harsh, please rest assured I hold no ill will towards the army, I only wish to dialogue and discuss ways we CAN adjust our vision and pathway.
Today I would like to discuss ‘success’.
What Success Is Not:
Success in our Army isn’t about some sort of “name it and claim it” prosperity theology. We have faith in God through both the prosperous times and in the not so prosperous times. Success is not about statistics either…statistics alone are only the evidence of positive trends. These can be helpful as tools towards realizing our mission, but should not be our “mountaintop” conclusion.
Success is not measured in wealth of our army. Money is also a tool that can do great good but also has the potential of doing great harm if mismanaged. Wealth in our army should be measured in the health of corps, divisions and most importantly its Soldiers. Success should not be based upon the financial stability (though as mentioned already money is a very helpful tool).
Having set aside some of the erroneously preconceived notions about success, let us now delve into the 3 surefire ways to succeed in our mission as an Army…
Our Mission As A Salvation Army:
The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian
Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.
3 Surefire Ways To Succeed In Our Mission:
1. Love For Christ And a Love For Others
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’ (Matthew 25:35)
The principle of a successful mission begins and ends with love. It goes beyond our “lovey-dovey” kind of love that was evident in summer camps as teenagers. It goes beyond a simple “like” of people. We must love God first. Simply put, without this love and devotion to Him we will never contain the capacity of love for others that is required of our Army. We administer God’s grace to some very unlovable people from time to time. Some have been hardened by the world around them and through horrendous circumstances that no one else knows. Loving the unlovable is not possible unless we possess, retain, frequently reconnect with the love of God. Our relationship to Him and our love for Him must continue to be the catalyst of our mission. Without His love we can do nothing. Without the love for “Others” our mission is incomplete and will not see continued success. We mustn’t lose this connection with our first love, because from it pours the compassion and grace to love those around us that He has called us to.
2. Be An Avid Reader And Student Of God’s Word:
“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2)
We must not misplace our desire to know more about our wondrous Savior. Secondly we must not ever get to a point in our spiritual formation and education and say within our hearts “I have learned it all, nothing more can be taught to me.” God help us if we ever become so prideful of our own human wisdom and foolishly think that the Holy Spirit can not instruct us more. The Word of God is living and active and we must ever be good students of His Word. This goes far beyond going to bible studies or even teaching Bible studies. This takes us to a place that we intentionally carve out blocks of time in our daily schedules to feast and meditate on His Word. Do not take it lightly or only pick it up in preparation for a sermon or for Sunday morning. God’s Word is our life’s blood and our source of truth in an often very murky world. We cannot and will not ever success in our Mission as an Army if we are not first students of His Word. Becoming a student of God’s Word will not only give us passages to share with the hurting and lost but also provide us deeper insight in God’s presence with His holy people.
3. Holiness, Holiness, Holiness:
I keep coming back to this point of ‘Holiness‘ in my life and perhaps there are implications here for all of us. More and more I have been convicted by the Holy Spirit that I still have more to give, more to surrender to His will in my life. This isn’t a ‘One and done’ deal or some sort of check-off list of action steps this is living a life of holiness everyday. Some days I succeed, while other days I am a complete and utter disaster of holiness. Becoming like Christ in every way shape and form in our sacrificial living as an Army MUST be first our individual goal and then our corporate aim. We can “go through the motions” of works. We can walk the pathway of duty and never reflect Christ in our hearts. We can be very good at pretending sometimes around other soldiers, officers and even those we serve, but we cannot fool the Lord. If we do not have our hearts bent and rent to the will of our Savior we cannot be prompted into a deeper surrender by the Holy Spirit. Every day we should have words similar to “I surrender all” on our lips and in our hearts. Every moment of every day we should attempt to include God’s Holy presence with us in whatever task we perform until we can walk, live and even breathe holiness. You might consider this impossible. You might view a full surrender of your heart to God as something of a dream that could never come true…is God not capable? Can He not perform this miracle in our lives? We must be willing – Yes, this is true. We must possess some measure of faith. He can transform us and make us new. He has already begun this great work within us.
Dear Salvation Army,
Our Mission is Christ and Others! We cannot perform these tasks here on earth without our first love and the love of others. We cannot complete our mission without sound doctrine and becoming students of His Word. We cannot realize the vision of the lost within the sea of sin and drowning hopelessness without individual and corporate holiness in this army. We need each other as accountability partners. We need reconciliation when brokenness of organization has occurred. We need soldiers willing to fight and to stand in the gap even when it seems all hope is gone…because God has not departed from us. He will ever be our guide. He will always lead us if we are truly listening to our first love…are we?
Something more for our Army to ponder today.
Thank you so much for providing an opportunity to pray and reflect about various aspects of the Salvation Army. May each person respond as they feel lead by God to do so.