New Officers have just been made.
The Salvation Army world has new editions to join in this fight as Officers of this Army.
It is a privilege as well as a tremendous responsibility to live up to the covenant that you have just signed.
So, Lieutenants, I imagine you cannot wait to get to your first appointment and get started…I was too!
I could not wait to plunge right in and change the world! I know many will indeed do just that. It is a hard road, there will be numerous heartaches along the way, but please allow me just a few moments of your time to share this with you now.
10 helpful tips for New Officers (and the rest of us)
1. Don’t Rush In and change everything right away!
Change doesn’t always come quickly and everyone of us, once out of training college, is gung-ho ready to go. Don’t ever lose that fervor but temper it with patience and wisdom as you embark on new ministries and attempt to change things within your new corps. Don’t rush to change everything right away because the unfortunate side-effect will be you will most likely scare some people away. Not that this is all bad, but if we share the vision and implement new changes incrementally we will have better success in bringing corps members along instead of driving a wedge between you and the corps family.
2. Listen to your corps people!
These faithful corps members have most likely been in your community much, much longer than you will ever be. They will have greater insight into the community than you will have as you arrive in this new appointment. Listen to these faithful few and discern what is just fear of change and what is credible wisdom shared with you the officer. If we as officers plod along without actively listening to those you minister to, we will once again lose some along the way “because this officer just doesn’t hear us“.
3. Fall in love with those you serve!
You cannot minister properly to your flock if you don’t first pray to the Lord to give you a love for them. Falling in love your flock is vital. When you fall in love with them, their wounds, struggles, concerns becomes yours as well to minister to and to address. As their pastor/officer you have this tremendous blessing and responsibility to be there for them and to guide them. We cannot adequately minister to our corps members without first loving them. Learn to fall in love with those you serve.
4. Don’t bad mouth or publicly criticize the Officer you are following
I could spend an entire article on just this tip.
Openly criticizing the former officer on specific things or issues in your corps is easy to do.
Be aware of this trap. It’s not helpful. It may, for the short-term, make you feel better about yourself, but this type of criticism will not build the body of Christ no matter what the perceived infraction might be.
Keep these concerns to yourself, don’t share them with your corps people, and if your corps people bring these type of “gripes” take them with a grain of salt and don’t get sucked into these destructive conversations.
Everyone of us Officers make judgement calls and decisions that sometimes others will question after the fact, but if you weren’t there or you don’t know the whole story beware of stepping into the waters of “bad mouth-dom”.
5. Get to know your community, walk in your uniform EVERYWHERE!
Another helpful tip is to get into your community. Learn the names of people, both influential as well as “the regular Joes”. The uniform is recognizable, and even if you aren’t “partial” to it, use it to better your ministry and corps…after all it is your uniform, the one you are to wear as the corps officer in that community…so wear practically wear it out. Let people see you, but not in some puffed up way, but in a way that lets the community know you are there to help serve suffering humanity in Christ’s name without discrimination!
6. Delegate and lean on your Local Officers!
Remember that you aren’t Super-Officer! Don’t try to do everything yourself.
Be wise in the things that you do, but also bring others along in your worship services as well as other practical ministries. Assign responsibilities. A part of discipling your corps people is to involve them in the ministry and get them acclimated to being used in these capacities. Have a corps member lead a song or teach a Sunday School class. Rotate leaders so that they are overwhelmed in leading. Invest your time in them in these practical ways, it will not only give them ownership of the corps’ ministries but through this you will get to know them better as well. Also recognize too that some may not be able to lead, but give them other smaller responsibilities – like handing out bulletins or welcoming visitors or even taking attendance.
7. Be consistent
Set calendar dates and follow through with them.
Be consistent not only with the things you say you will do but also in how you do them.
Be consistent in your personal life as well as when you are at the corps or in an “official” capacity in your community. People are watching you, and not in some creepy sort of way, but when you wear the uniform and people call you by your rank you are a person people will look up to and want to follow. So, lead consistently, honestly, and prayerfully! It’s not a competition, or a celebrity function, it’s a vital ministry, it’s about changing lives for Christ…You are Christ’s hands and feet and His appointed pastor to your flock. Be consistent in this to the best of your abilities.
8. Finances Are Important to the Mission
Regardless if you love a financial spreadsheet or you don’t, money makes a difference. Be good stewards of what you’ve been given. Use it wisely. Don’t ever take it for granted. I know most of us get overwhelmed during the Christmas season and at other fund raising seasons…recognize that without those funds you will have to limit the services that you could have provided to additional families and individuals.
Secondly, don’t spend frivolously. There are numerous charge cards and other means of purchasing things, but again, be good stewards of these limited funds. Make every penny count. Some of you will unfortunately enter some appointments where finances may not be in abundance, or your appointment is in debt for whatever reason. Be patient. Be prayerful. The Lord always provides what we need when we are faithful. Do not become discouraged, but take each day at a time and ask “Lord what would you have me do today”. Use it as a ministry opportunity!
9. Fall in love with those you serve AGAIN!
Have I mentioned this already? Let me say it again…Fall in love with those you serve!
Sometimes there will be disagreements and people who you will butt heads with, but pray for those situations. Sometimes hard decisions will have to be made, and sometimes grace has to be given. Learn over and over again to fall in love with those you serve. When we show Christ-like love, we show our flock that they matter, that they are important…that this appointment isn’t some sort of “stepping stone” to us. Fall in love with them daily because you are devoted first to Christ and He can and will make all things new.
10. Preach from what you know and be faithful in that!
Don’t preach sermons that you have no context preaching. Pray. Be diligent in your devotional life. Study the scriptures. Be honest with things you struggle with. Be relevant, be clear. Take the time to write your sermons during the week. God will guide you and give you inspiration…just have ears to hear and write your messages based on what you know not what others know. Don’t discount the work of the Holy Spirit to both give you the appropriate words to speak as well as move among your people (no matter how hard living some may be). Step boldly into this ministry and let God lead you – you are capable and called!
These are just ten helpful tips for new officers that I would like to share with you today. There are far wiser officers out there than me, and I would strongly recommend you to find other mentor officers who can help and guide you! Please know that no matter where you are sent to, you are not alone! You are loved, and I want to encourage you today that this Army needs you! This army needs new direction. This army needs your fresh perspectives. This army needs additional people who are in pursuit of holiness and long to change the world for Christ!