Dear Salvation Army, The Voice of Dissonance?

Is there such a thing within our ranks as a dissonant voice?
Is this even something considered?
Sometimes I wonder if individuality can be present within a quasi-militant organizational model such as ours.
Is there ever a place for such a voice?
Can iron sharpen iron without healthy friction?
Is punishment instantly doled out to those with a conflicting voice?

By dissonant I don’t mean a voice of extreme dissent or open rebellion, I mean one who has constructive things to say to the organization as a whole…is this possible?  Does that voice really matter?  Does the Army still need dissonant voices?   Will those voices really make a difference?  Or does it sort of resemble this:


I do not wish to throw gasoline onto a fire.
I do not wish to lick an open wound (I know, gross euphemism…sorry).
But I do wonder what sort of place these dissonant voices have in an army that often times spurns abnormal or divergent (sorry book/movie series) soldiers?

audioWorst Case Scenario of Dissonance:
Divergent, dissonant voices are expelled, sometimes publicly, sometimes quietly with little to no fanfare.
They are driven further and further away from sources of influence and squeezed until they either capitulate or comply to the common “group think”.   Hence the “my way or the highway” leadership model.  Decisions made by leadership within this scenario do not handle constructive criticism of any kind, and will lash out and punish anyone who raises pertinent questions that challenge the present leadership and its decision.

Best Case Scenario of Dissonance: mic
Divergent/dissonant voices are listened to, constructive criticism is welcomed in order to make the Army better.  Leaders still lead and make the decisions but welcome other voices to help make the organization better.  One can still agree to disagree but without the fear of retribution of faulty, insecure leadership.  The best case scenario is not the easiest for the organization, but would preserve its constituency while providing ownership to the “group”.   BUT…Pick Your Battles!
pickDissonant voices can become just like traffic noise if not careful on what battles are waged through constructive criticism.  Traffic noise is loud and indicate when someone is coming, but if you constantly live with the noise, it will eventually become tuned out and ignored.  If one constantly challenges authority and argues with every voice of reason and “unreason” that voice will eventually lose all power and credibility.   If you must challenge authority and leadership…pick your battles and make sure you look for traffic!

Organizational Questions to consider:
Are there times when the voice of dissonance is needed in our Army?
What can one do to ensure dissonant voices of concern are listened to?
How can we tell when we have become the one in need of listening instead of speaking?
Does this army have room to grow and to become better defined and equipped?
How does one know which battles to pick?
When does pride become our blinder and prohibit us from seeing the “big picture” or the “other side”?

Photo Mar 23, 5 21 28 PM
The Resonating Dissonance…

In the grand scheme of things, The Salvation Army was born from such a voice.
William and Catherine Booth began this mission because it seemed that no one else would.
They moved from the “accepted” group think into something new, and the transitional go between was this voice of dissonance.  Jesus was a dissonant voice in His day.  He, at times, upset the “group think”.  He challenged the “law”.  His way was obviously divine, life saving, deeply personal and yet salvation for the whole wide world.  How can we become a resonating voice of dissonance in our world?  How can we bring into the focus the need to become better aligned with Christ?  How can we align our harmony with the orchestra of God?  Can this army thrive within THAT voice again?  I believe that we can.  I believe that it isn’t too late for that.  May we strive to be an ever forward moving army!  May we guide the wounded hearts to Christ.  May we never stand in the way of His Holy Presence and His moving in this body of Christ!  May we use our voices both as individuals as well as an Army to make the name of Christ resound, so that hope is given, love is shared and joy, unspeakable joy is forever dispersed among His people.

Something more for this Army to ponder today.
To God be the glory!

5 thoughts on “Dear Salvation Army, The Voice of Dissonance?

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  1. Leadership is the key. Dissonant voices will always be with us. they will say many different things, some good, some bad. Leadership has to be able to discern which is right and which isn’t. Leadership also has to be able to determine if their own thoughts or ideas are hindering them from moving the Army forward by not listening to the dissonant voices they PERSONALLY disagree with… some do, some don’t.

    Right now, the Army is afraid of dissonant voices. They don’t want to go where those voices encourage them to go. We’d rather “stand fast” in our beliefs, our ideas, and our standards, and ANY suggestion to do otherwise is considered treason. We try to quiet those who disagree, punish those who make their ideas known, and in effect ex-communicate the ones who are seen as too dangerous for us to deal with.


    If we think we do: we’re arrogant, and arrogance isn’t holy.

    If we think we do, then we won’t listen when Holy Spirit tries to guide us through dissonant voices.

    If we think we do, we will never change or adapt to meet the ministry needs of our changing cultures.

    Dissonant voices challenge the ‘status quo,’ and encourage us to engage in new ministry and new opportunities to take the message of the Gospel to places we never thought we’d take it to.

    Dissonant voices also challenge our attitudes toward others we never thought we’d minister to.

  2. I love the friction observation as iron sharpens iron.
    We are called to love, to serve, to seek and save the lost. There is sooo much noise filling the air. We are a people who like things to be done our way. Sometimes we trample those who have made it possible for us to even have a voice. There is a lot of noise on social media. It’s so constant and loud that often it’s hard to hear the prayers being lifted up, the song of the redeemed, the new songs of praise, testimonies of souls saved, lives changed. But there are countless in need of a savior, and that too is a reality.
    None I see in “leadership” (which by the way is all of us who put on a uniform) is hindering anyone from reading God’s word, worshipping, praying for others, feeding, clothing, visiting the sick, the prisoners … I don’t need approval to do these things. If our activity were just limited to these, there would be plenty for all to do. But we are also called to be.
    There’s being divergent, and being defiant, being concerned, and being belligerent, there’s being disrespectful, and being persistent. At one point, a line can get crossed, and then a voice becomes a noise.
    There’s also a call to be Holy, even if and specially when we disagree.
    The best way to way to make sure a message is heard, is to share it in the best way that it will be received. If that’s not the real intention (being heard), then keep on shouting. I’ve seen discontent soldiers who have been heard but not agreed with, so what then should their/my reaction be? Shout louder, or demonstrate with their/my actions and attitudes what the Lord has put on their hearts? Persistent prayer makes a way when people, circumstances, and limitations in resources keep the Vision of the Lord from being seen. It’s Gods purpose, His timing. I can pray, but it’s only a Gods will and purposes that will manifest. Am I praying that His will be accomplished, and that his leaders are obedient to His leading (or my interpretation of it?) “Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” Acts 5:38-39
    By the fruit a tree is known, not by its voice.
    I am responsible for how I treat others, my family, my leaders, my colleagues, my community. So keep wandering to the corners of the community, find the lost, keep loving, serving, holding fast to THE WORD (it’s the only authority to stand on), serving those in need. I can live several lifetimes fully serving in this meaningful ministry totally engaged in seeking to serve like Jesus. I can also spend a lifetime criticizing those around me, questioning motives, and make noise. I’ve tried both, and found the criticizing was divisive and did not bring about the change that prayer yields. (Lord–May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight.)

  3. Scott,

    As usual, well written and challenging to us all. The only thing I would add is if one chooses the voice of dissonance then you have to be prepared to accept the consequences without regret.

    Love you….Dad

    1. Very true. At perhaps ensure the reasons and motivations for such a course is honorable and lacking selfish pride and gain. This voice is not always welcomed anywhere and yet there are times when they ought to speak up. Not out of disrespect or rebellion but because it is the right thing to do…hence “pick your battles”!

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