Dear Salvation Army – Salvationist Life Hacks (10 Hacks To Improve Your Effectiveness)

Introduction to Salvationist Life Hacks:
Thank you to all those who contributed to this blog entry.  I will list each individual by name at the end of this article.  Please note that these aren’t
“shortcuts” or means to cheat life and challenges that we face as Officers and Soldiers, these are merely suggested ways to improve our effectiveness in ministry and in organization.  We could all use a little house-keeping from time to time and perhaps some brainstorming and idea sharing could help us in this process.  Many of these “life hacks” are for Officers of The Salvation Army but Soldiers and Cadets could most likely apply these as well to their lives and ministries wherever that may be.

Without further adieu 10 hacks to improve your ministry effectiveness:
10 life hacks:
Photo Sep 22, 10 38 06 AM
1) Calendar Planning – It takes a lot to become disciplined in scheduling things out a year in advance…but it is possible.  The Salvation Army is rather good at scheduling reports and specific required events for the entire year, so syncing that to your personal calendar is not all that difficult, but it is just time consuming at the onset.  Some suggestions would be to use apps like Google Calendar to help link and bring up reminders of important events and due dates.  Calendar planning doesn’t just end with your personal ‘to do’ list but can also become vital for worship planners…which leads to #2 life hack:

2) Worship Planning:

Planning-WorshipThere are many tools to help make this happen, from a simple excel worksheets to elaborate subscription based websites.  Remember, worship is not only about the selection of music on Sunday morning.  When you put forth the effort in advance to plan Holiness meetings and other such events, the actual execution of these services becomes easier.  Be careful not to over-plan and thereby constraining the work of the Holy Spirit, but not planning services and just expecting the Holy Spirit to do everything is also not an option.  There is action required on our part, participate is not optional, instead it should be a proactive, not a reactionary response.  Poor planning is noticeable.  Poor planning, in my opinion, can resemble how unimportant we view our worship offerings to the Lord.  One highly touted premium online service is Planning Center Online which begins at $14 a month (I am not a paid sponsor, nor have I used their product).  If you’re a little more low tech a simple calendar, a sheet of paper and your music/scripture/readings/lectionary and a few local officers once a quarter will suffice.  Lectionary sources are abundant and available online including ELCA Lectionary which may be a little high church but can provide some guidelines on seasonal and specific calendar planning within our worship.

3) Have additional sermons on standby!
You know the old Army adage “always keep an extra sermon in your pocket“…if that phrase is new to you, well then, you’re welcome.  In training College or other preparatory courses, one learns to become proactive and always ready.  Thus having a sermon in ones back pocket provides opportunity  and keeps us always on the ready.  You never know when you might be called upon to spontaneously preach a sermon when someone calls in sick or you find your name on a bulletin without any foreknowledge.  Borrowing from the old Boy Scout motto – “Be prepared!”

4) Meal Preparation

Officers and even Soldiers can become very busy, whether it is the Christmas season or another hectic week in the office.  It is not healthy to eat fast food every night or to miss meals and then gorge on late night snacks.  Again, preparation is the key.  It is time consuming at the onset, but it can save us some pounds around the waistline as well as money from our pockets.  There are some places that allow you to do all of the prep work at their business like Let’s Dish.  My sister works there and I have sampled their products during the long Christmas season.  Be careful, though some may not be easy on a budget so shop around.  Buying pre-cooked meals might help or you can pre-cook various favorite dishes and freeze them for a later event.

5) White Shirts = Stains.
It’s inevitable.
Just accept it…and then be prepared for that next spaghetti or coffee stain.  Carry with you a simple stain stick or wipe so that you aren’t forced to wear the “stain of shame” for the rest of the day.

6) Ladies: buy quality Nylons and keep an extra set in your purse.

This comes to us from other Officers who are women.  I trust that they know a little something about nylons.  You never know when the next set of velcro shoes will run the pair you are wearing now…so plan to keep an extra set with you in the event of the nylon disaster of 2014.  Remember, buy quality nylons that are comfortable (as comfortable as they can be that is).  Spending a little extra might go a long way to surviving that next all-day required event in full uniform.

7) Safety Pins, Safety Pins, Safety Pins…

pinsI once flew to an event and a couple of my tunic buttons got torn off by a strap on my carry-on bag.  I didn’t have a sewing kit on me but I did have safety pins.  These can be life-savers, or at least uniform savers.

8) Buy Bulk multi-use Cards cards
We all need encouragement and support.  Why not buy a bunch of cards and store them in your desk drawer to pull out and send to members in your corps, session mates and friends?!  It will save you one step of having to rush out to the nearest Walgreen’s or Hallmark store and purchase a card.  Always be prepared to soothe the hearts of trouble friends and corps members by sharing a quick card of encouragement and love.

9) Post-it Note ‘To Do’ Listspost it
Buy some simple post-it notes for ‘to-do’ lists or tasks at hand needing your attention.  These are practical suggestions but important ones.  If you are better on your smartphone or calendar with ‘to-do’ lists then use that feature.  Never forget to do a report or complete a task again because you have a note right there on your desk to remind you.  Also on Lotus Notes there is a ‘flag’ feature as well as a ‘to-do’ feature which can help you stream line your lists of tasks you need to complete.

10) Spend Quality Time With Family!family
Soldiers and Officers of The Salvation Army lead very busy lives.  Carve out intentional times where the phones are turned off, the tablets are disconnected and the laptop is left in the office.  Put the tech down and look at your kids.  Stop bringing your work home with you for a change.  Take the time to have dinner together around the table and talk about their day.  Go to that soccer game to support your child.  Invest in family time!  There are many former Officer Kids out there who, once becoming an adult, walked away completely from the Army because they never saw their parents.  This is a parental choice, not the army’s fault.  Make life fun, be a parent not just the “Captain” or “Major” or “General”.  This life hack can bring your families closer together, but allows you the opportunity to minister to your most important congregation – your kids!  If there’s one life hack that mustn’t be neglected, it’s this one.

These are just a few hacks…I’m sure there are many more.  What are your suggestions?  What life-hacks have you learned along the way?  Share them here in the comment section below.

More for our Army world to ponder today!
Special Thanks To:
John Mowers, Tammy Whitney, Kelsey Moreno, Jennifer Wilson, Amyjo Ferguson, Keith Bailey, Kathie Chiu, Robin Shiels, David Grindle, Deb Coles, Jim Garrington, Cindy Marquis, Timothy McPherson & Rob Whitney for your contributions!  

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