Dear Salvation Army Soldier, it would seem that we are at a turning point in our Army.
Perhaps some of you have seen this coming for years, perhaps some are seeing this for the first time. Our organization, built on the fire of The Holy Spirit and the Mission to reach souls for Christ through “Soup, Soap, & Salvation” is in need of a second and possibly third blessing from the Lord.
What do I mean by that? I mean we are in need of a Pentecost type renewal once again among our ranks. We need a deeper resolve within our prayer lives. We must preach Holiness from the pulpit BUT more importantly live holiness in our lives and be an example of Christ-likeness to those around us!
This turning point is like the Israelites of old who renewed their covenant with God over and over again only to forget its meaning and stray from their faith and relationship to the Author and Sustainer of life. Do we stray sometimes? Have we lost our way upon this pathway of duty? I don’t think this Salvationist thing is solely about duty…no, it’s so much more than that! To me, the word “duty” implies something arduous and required of us. Something that allows us to plod along as long as we are performing our required/expected responsibilities. That word only goes so far…we as Salvationists need more the duty in our lives and in our ministries, we need passion, faith and perseverance too!
That being said, allow me for a moment to delve into a very important topic of leadership.
This topic is not exclusively for our divisional/territorial or International leaders, this is a broad brush stroke that transcends position and status within our Army. I say this because I do not want anyone to assume I am directing this at anyone specifically…if I did that, I would have to seriously contend that my abilities within leadership is perfect…they most certainly are not. I am still learning. I have a lot of room for growth here. I am no fool, I recognize this in myself. I write this for me…and perhaps, in some way – you might also benefit and relate from it as well.
My Master’s Degree is Organizational Leadership…despite all of that, degree and all, I’m still a work in progress…how about you?
5 Things Leaders Shouldn’t Do –
5) “Do as I say, not as I do!”
We might find ourselves barking orders and giving commands that we seldom or have difficulty following ourselves. Weren’t the Pharisees of old really good at that too? They were the enforcers of laws that they themselves didn’t necessarily keep. Allow me to just say…”those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” This kind of behavior within leadership is tempting – We lead, we should expect people to follow us, but if we don’t first lead by example, chances are those that follow will either resent our leadership or stop following all together. THIS is extremely detrimental to our Army. Beware of this leadership trap!! If you find yourself here, please, please stop – you’re hurting the army more than you are helping it!
4) Cast An Unrealistic Vision
This too is easy to do!
We set the standard SO high that no one can reach it and many will find themselves disillusioned and discouraged. We are an Army, but we are also an army of compassion and hope. We can’t expect a new convert to the faith to become Brengle overnight (for example). Set your vision – YES, but be mindful that you don’t lose your people in the process. Make your vision and your goals attainable, whatever they may entail. Don’t lose sight of the sheep you shepherd and get so far ahead of them that they aren’t able to keep up or follow you. Thankfully Jesus never His disciples in the dust, He helped them along, even explaining certain parables to them when they were confused or off base.
3) Discipline Without Compassion
Stop this, please!
Jesus said this of the earthly model of leadership –
“Among the heathen, kings are tyrants and each minor official lords it over those beneath him.But among you it is quite different. Anyone wanting to be a leader among you must be your servant. And if you want to be right at the top, you must serve like a slave. Your attitude must be like my own, for I, the Messiah,* did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many.”(Matthew 20:25-28 TLB)
The Army doesn’t need more iron-fisted leaders, it needs leaders who lead with compassion as their strength! Discipline? Yes – but fairly and with the intention to correct and restore. Don’t discipline out of anger or misaligned points of view. Some of the best leaders that I know are those who have a servant’s heart and are concerned about helping those they lead to attain levels of personal growth in their lives!
2) Lead In A Way That’s Always Been Done…”
It’s an excuse to lead in this manner – “The Army has always led this way” – False, men and women have led this way, but we can lead in ways that improve upon what has already been built! Don’t hang all of your experience upon the coat hook of tradition as your standard. Instead glean what worked and what didn’t…Adapt! I will take a prayer warrior leader over one who wishes to climb the ladder by stepping on people any day! Don’t think for a minute that there haven’t been those consumed by the compulsion to lead or driven by personal ambition…it’s a human flaw, and we all have our own personal egos to contend with.
Gut check time – I think the words of Ezekial 34:4 could apply to all of us as a warning to leaders who are not fair or lead by “how it has ALWAYS been done” – “You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.
Let’s not lose sight of why we need leaders in our army, and why we exist in the first place!
1) Stop Blaming Loss of Membership Solely On Those You Lead!”
This is critical.
It goes hand in hand with the whole setting the vision too high thing…be mindful of casting blame. Officers – stop blaming all of your corps people on the loss of members (you might be warranted sometimes – go to specific people!) Soldiers – stop blaming your corps officers or the officers before the current ones! We all have a responsibility in the here and now to lead and to shepherd people to Christ.
If we lose a battle, claim it and move on to the next! To use the euphemism again – This war is not over! We have much ground to gain and we need to persevere and fight on! Leadership – where ever you may be, if you take credit for the victories, take ownership for defeats as well! You are the ones to set the vision and assist in seeing that vision to fruition.
You might agree or disagree with me, that’s fine.
At the end of the day I want all of us (myself especially) to examine our places of authority. Whether it’s in the corps or at headquarters. We either do this together, or fall apart trying to do our own thing!
Something more for our army to ponder today!
Stay tuned to tomorrow’s pondering on 5 Things Leaders SHOULD do!
***Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this pondering are the writers thoughts and opinions, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of The Salvation Army…read discretion advised. ***