Dear Salvation Army – 3 Questions To Ask Before Becoming An Officer

Dear Salvationists,
this is not 3 “magical beans” reminiscent of Jack and the bean stalk, this is simply an exploration into officership.

The Truth:
Officership is not for everyone.

The Lie:
In order to live out my calling as a Soldier I MUST become an Officer.

I do not say this to discourage anyone from becoming an officer, please do not misunderstand me.
I wish to dispel the myth that in order to be fulfilled in ministry within the army one must ALWAYS become an officer.
I do not wish to undermine anyone’s calling either.
If God has specifically called you into Officership, then by all means fulfill that calling!
There are, however, some within our army who feel that in order to do more and be more they must become officers only to discover that this was not the right choice for them.  I believe this certainly does contribute to the continued and troubling attrition rate amongst officers.  One way to address this issue (loss of officers) is to ask the hard questions prior to becoming an officer.  Sometimes, not always, individuals enter training with a pie in the sky, unrealistic concept of what Officership looks like, or should look like, and then when they are sent out to appointments reality hits and they begin to say to themselves “this isn’t what I signed up for”.  THQ and DHQ are very good at reminding officers of the covenant that they signed (sometimes too good) but in all honesty some consider this covenant as just another hurdle to become an officer and wear that red trim.

Understandably, the screening process and testing done for prospective candidates has become more elaborate (depending on the territory, it will vary).   With these benchmarks in place it does help to process “qualified” candidates.  In saying this, I recognize some might take offense to this, perhaps because they did not “qualify”, or are currently in the process of becoming an accepted candidate.  To some this is frustrating.  The testing process, like many things in life, is not perfect.  Individuals have potentially made the screening process only to phase out in training or eventually leave the work for a multitude of reasons.

Putting that aside, please allow me to share three important questions one should ask themselves before committing to Officership.
DISCLAIMER: These three questions are merely primer or starter questions and are not meant to be all inclusive.  There are many more variables to consider before taking that important step, but here are three suggested questions to consider:

questions13 Questions To Ask Before Becoming An Officer:

#1 Why do I want to become an Officer?  
When we ask this personal question of ourselves we can hopefully draw some conclusions as to our purpose and intent for wanting to become an officer.  Be honest.  If you can’t be honest with yourself, then who can you be honest with?  Answering this fundamental question of officership can help to further clarify your personal goals in life.  If you feel as if God has specifically called you into this then that should be your answer.  uniIf you don’t know why you want to be an officer – that is your answer (as murky as that is)…and so you explore that possibility.  If you answer this question on the basis of relatives who are also serving in the army and you signed up because it is comfortable and familiar to you – there’s your answer.  I am not saying any, other than God calling you, are completely wrong reasons but they do become the catalyst for what kind of officer you do become.   Perhaps make a list of all the reasons that you want to be an officer, jot them down on a notepad so that you can better see them.  This might help you make a comprehensive decision and not one that you might regret if you enter into this decision half-hearted and unsure.

pray#2 Have I prayed about this?
Another honest question to ask yourself.  Not to scare you or anything but this decision is a big one!  It will impact everything that you do in life.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t change directions later, but it means that you can make the right choices at the onset by simply and prayerfully considering this decision.  Please note that I am not discouraging anyone from becoming an officer, in fact if anything I am pleading to anyone considering taking that step to do so with prayerful consideration which involves the Lord throughout the process in a daily walk with Him.

Start a prayer journal if you’re a writer or can better connect to God in this way.  For some of us articulating these emotions upon the page can help us sort through our spiritual decisions.  Have others pray for you as well.  This is probably obvious, but take the time to ask the Father for guidance.  Be specific.  Pray for support and the proper guidance of other people.  Pray and don’t hide any motives from God, because naturally He already knows our hearts.

#3 Can I Live This Life of Submission? jesus
This is the Officers Covenant that is signed while at College for Officers Training:

MY COVENANT

CALLED BY GOD
to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
as an officer of The Salvation Army

I BIND MYSELF TO HIM IN THIS SOLEMN COVENANT

to love and serve him supremely all my days,

to live to win souls and make their salvation the first purpose of my life,

to care for the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the unlovable, and befriend those who have no friends,

to maintain the doctrines and principles of The Salvation Army, and, by God’s grace to prove myself a worthy officer.

Done in the strength of my Lord and Savior, and in the presence of (the following wording to be adapted to local circumstances) the Territorial Commander, training college officers and fellow cadets.

This calling to become an officer is a sacred decision.
I do not wish to sugarcoat this.  covenant-signing
I also do not wish to paint an officer’s life as always glorious, or always rosy, or always joyful.
These things do happen,  there will be setbacks, heartaches, days of discouragement, stress and disappointment.
When we deal with people, even leaders can and will make mistakes.
We are not perfect people, but we are striving to live a life of humility and submission.
Is this easy?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!
For some of us, this is the hardest thing we could ever do.
Many do not like being told what to do, where to go, and sometimes how to do something.
Politics does happen.
Favoritism does happen too.
Living within a relationship of submission to the Lord in this capacity will not be easy.
We do trust that He knows what He is doing even when we feel others have made leadership mistakes.
We do trust that He will lead and direct even when sometimes the directions seem skewed and wrong.
Submission first to God allows us to live this life under the authority of the Army.
Can you live this way?
Are you prepared to submit to this kind of authority (even when you may not always agree)?

The life of an Officer is rewarding.
It can be fulfilling…but is this the right decision for you?
Only you and the Lord can answer that question.
There are many, many saints in this army.  Some wear red trim on their tunics and some wear blue trim on their tunics…these saints are equally needed and important in this army!!  If God has called you into Officership then get on with it and stop dragging your feet!  If He has not called you into Officership but into a place leadership and service as a soldier and/or employee of this army, then get on with it also – YOU ARE NEEDED regardless if you wear red or not.

Something more for this army world to ponder!
To God be the glory!

Advertisements

6 Comments

  1. Awesome article, my friend!
    Another thing that I think that people get stuck on is this idea of a “Smack you up the head/Audible” Calling…
    Some people come to the decision on their own, and the calling from God is the fact that they had that idea. The idea that “God will speak directly to you” can have the effect that some people, even though they may want to be an officer, won’t pursue it simply because they haven’t had that Overly Obvious call.

  2. Thanks for sharing! I particularly appreciated the idea about not everyone being called to officership. All to often, we treat officership as the completion of the road for the Salvationists. While we need good officers, we very much need local soldiery (members) who are aking a difference in their locations.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s