Last year (2016), General Cox set forth an initiative called Journey of Renewal.
This initiative has been created to encourage, grow, and tackle many of the struggles our Army faces today. In some countries in recent years there have been horrific criminal events that have taken place, and in some regards this is the Army’s response as a preventative measure for the present and future.
I am greatly encouraged by this initiative, and see the possibilities of being truly transparent…but please afford me a small measure of cynicism too. I am hopeful, yet I am unsure if this can, or will actually work. (I really, really hope it does!)
I want transparency and accountability for all leadership.
I believe that this is not only biblical, it is also ethical.
Yet, I am unsure how this will be done from every level, when the accountability of all leadership is not currently in place yet. Sure, there are the yearly reviews and the audits and so on, but how does one thoroughly weigh the performance of Army personnel from afar?
We must tread carefully as we throw the word accountability around, because, as this initiative states, we must have proof with facts and not just rumors. Accusations and rumors can destroy leaders from every level if wrongfully accused, this we must be mindful of. On the same token, our accountability of leadership MUST encompass every level of authority from the top down. We cannot have true accountability until every rank, position and appointment are held to the same level. We cannot sweep things under the rug for one and enforce disciplinary measures for another.
We also should recognize that every level of leadership is fallible and is sometimes subject to making mistakes. A level of grace must be given while these measures of accountability are kept. Without grace, all of us fall short of the glory of God!
Please allow me to quote a portion of this initiative from General Cox:
“Being open and transparent.
The Accountability Movement encourages people to be more open and transparent. Leaders should not ask ‘why do they need to know?’ but rather enable an open, transparent culture of ‘why shouldn’t people be told?’
Salvation Army leaders at all levels should encourage people to think, discuss and debate how the Army can be more effective, efficient and faithful in doing God’s will in our communities.
Mutual respect and truth.
There must be a culture of mutual respect and truth-telling between Army leaders and those under their command. Developing this culture means that if leaders or followers behave badly there must be consequences. The General has made it clear that everyone needs to be held to account – but fairly.
The practice of complaining secretly or writing anonymous letters has to end. A new accountability culture will require effective processes to address the concerns of whistle-blowers – but allegations must be backed up with facts, not rumours.” http://accountability.salvationarmy.org/
I must tell you the portion that I am most wary of: “complaining of secretly or writing anonymous letters has to end…” I understand that there have been many forms of accusation in various places around the Army world, some legitimate while others slanderous and maliciously false. One of the causes of such a practice in our army (letter writing and secretly complaining) is that there is a very real fear of reprisals or punishment for those who would cry foul, and the fear is this punishment will be handed out by leaders in authority. Perhaps an officer has complained about leadership, and so without any investigation, that officer is either directly dealt with or sent to a punishment appointment in the hopes that they will then resign and then the “problem” officer is gone. Our Army is very good at holding our cards tightly to our chest. We are not very good at transparency, although at times we talk a good game…much improvement needs to take place in order to actually be transparent, and I think General Cox is right in talking about this and starting this initiative.
With that being said though, if transparency is to be fully realized there must be a level playing field for all Officers and soldiers (which I really hope this initiative produces). Some people in our Army do not have any way in which they can safely respond to improper use of authority and maltreatment. Where does a soldier go to report the misuse of authority by their Corps Officer? Where does a Corps Officer go to report the misuse of authority by their Divisional Officer? The list goes on. Who will really listen to them and actually take them seriously and look into it? And if something is found, will anything really be done unless it becomes a legal issue?
Please do not misunderstand me, I am not advocating any kind of witch-hunt in our Army by any means, all I am inferring is that everyone who holds a shred of authority from the General on down to the local officer in a corps should be held accountable in the same way. Yes, the level of responsibility is different, but everyone should be striving for the same goal: Christ-likeness and Kingdom building. If another ambition or goal has been improperly submitted, then hold that person accountable and measure the fruit that each produces.
“ new accountability culture will require effective processes to address the concerns of whistle-blowers”
I am very curious to know what “effective processes” actually means?
Dear Salvation Army, if you want to be truly transparent, then these effective processes will be explained in greater detail in the near future. I am encouraged by this initiative “Journey of Renewal”! I see great things taking place if this is followed through with. If we want to see real change and renewal in our Army, we must make the hard decisions; we must confront sin issues and deal with them, but we must also do it with grace and love. We have to take responsibility for our actions from the top down and the bottom up! No one is more important than the next, and if we are leaders, we must be servants first.
Please pray for your leaders, the greater the responsibility of leadership one assumes the more temptation there is, and they face a lot more pressure as well.
May we hold each other accountable for no other purpose than to see lives transformed by the renewing power of the Holy Spirit and to witness the lost being found by a mighty, mighty God!
Something more for the Army world to ponder today!
Tell us what you think! Do you think this new initiative will work? How can we make it work in our community/ministry? How are you already doing “accountability” in your appointment, corps, ministry?
Leave your comments, questions and thoughts below.
Disclaimer: “The thoughts and opinions written here are the writer’s and not necessarily that of The Salvation Army’s, reader discretion is advised.”