Dear Salvation Army, Is Your Corps Designed To Disciple?

Discipleship leads to holiness.
Holiness is the intentional shift from self to becoming the very reflection of Christ.
If we are to hear the Holy Spirit’s prompting in our lives we need to be discipled into a deeper faith.
The Problem: 
There are a lot of baby Christians who have never taken the next step.
Some have decided, whether because of low self esteem or doubts in the possibility of their personal growth, that this is as good as it gets.  Some simply get saved and maintain the same level of commitment to Christ.  It might not be intentional, as I’ve already stated, it might be because they just aren’t convinced growth is possible for them.  Sometimes relinquishing perceived “freedom” is the issue.  If the new convert were to commit further they fear they would lose their personal identities or have to give up the things they love to do the most in life.

The Question:
Is Your Corps Designed To Disciple?
I don’t mean is your corps prepared to add another program to its already extremely bloated schedule.
I mean, is it remotely possible that discipleship and/or mentoring younger Christians can happen today in your corps?  Are there older Christians who are mature in their faith who can take younger soldiers under their wing?  Are we actually serious about training the next generation of Soldiers to become the leaders of our corps…not only to become leaders but to be properly equipped Disciples of Christ?

We are good at talking about discipleship, but do we really know how to disciple?
Sure, it looks great on paper.  It tickles the ears of our leadership at DHQ…but are we actually serious about it?

The questions that always trip us up: 
displeWho will teach?
How much time will it take away from our other ministries?
Will it make a difference?
Are we equipped to disciple?
Where do we even begin?

Attached are a few resource links to check out:

Click to access Discipleship%20Handbook-Instructor.1.pdf

Making a Disciple
How To Disciple
What is Discipleship?

Don’t be afraid to keep it simple…we don’t need to over complicate things when it comes to discipling our soldiers and adherents.  It’s not that they won’t understand these things, it’s just that by keeping it simple and practical we will show our soldiers and adherents that discipleship is possible!

Discipleship makes holiness possible.
If we have better equipped soldiers in our corps wehave a stronger corps.
If we have committed disciples who are in turn discipling others, we will be laying a firm foundation for the next generation to follow!  growing

3 Steps To Help Your Corps Disciple: 

1. Be in Prayer!
Emphasize prayer for your corps family.
Don’t neglect this vital tool.
Pray in your own personal time with the Lord about discipling and who to disciple.

2.  Listen!
Don’t just talk to God, listen to Him.
Hear what He is saying.  Listen to those in your corps as well.  Hear their needs.  Hear the promptings of the Spirit to help you mentor those who need mentoring.  When we stop talking and start listening we will find that God has already put people in our path who need discipling.

3. Teach!
I don’t just mean opening up a book.
I mean lead by example.
Take a member of your corps out for coffee.
Spend time with them and share with them the principles of Christian living.
There are numerous resources out there that you can use.  There are some wonderful workbooks…BUT KEEP IT SIMPLE!  There is no need to inundate your people with overly complicated homework and requirements.  Don’t make it a classroom, make it life.
Don’t make it another corps program to attend, make it feel like home as you attempt to lead your corps members into a deeper, more substantive faith in Christ.

Is your corps designed to disciple?
If it is, will you comment on this article and tell us how your corps does it?
If your corps doesn’t, will you also indicate this in the form of a comment?
All questions are welcome, and we can explore the answers together!

Something more for our Army world to ponder today!
To God be the glory!

Dear Salvation Army, 5 ‘Right’ Ways To Disciple (Part 2)

Yesterday we explored the wrong ways to disciple:  “5 Wrong Ways To Disciple (Part 1)

Today I would like to flip the coin.
I would like us to look at the positive side of things.
Discipleship is vital to our Army.
We want need soldiers who are discipled, who are living a life of holiness, who are determined and disciplined, and those who long to disciple others along as well.

In other words: The Salvation Army needs us all to grow up!
We need to grow up in the grace of Jesus Christ.
We need to mature in our faith walk.
We need to deepened our spiritual wells.
We must step up, stop living on baby formula and strive to feast of a richer more sustainable way of holy living.

“…but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,…” (Ephesians 4:15)

Photo Mar 10, 11 06 52 AMYes, many within our ranks may have grown up in broken homes.
Yes, many within our ranks may have experienced abuses of many kinds.
Yes, many within our ranks may still carry these scars into the present…some may never fully heal.
BUT I believe in a mighty God who can and will transform, restore and renew us!
Each of us are capable of growth regardless of the scars that we carry with us.
We are not called to be educated.
We are not called to have all of the answers.
We are not even called to be capable by human standards…BUT: we are called to be faithful and He will provide the tools that we need in order to thrive within His plan for our lives.

5 Right Ways To Disciple: 
1.  Slow down – Don’t Run but Walk run
There will be certainly times that the Holy Spirit will prompt us to pick up the pace, but if we are discipling others along in this faith, remember that it will take time.  Be patient!  Don’t overwhelm new Christians will all of your religious jargon and “army terminology”.  They will not be ready for this.  It is too much.  They won’t understand and you may inadvertently drive them away.  So go easy!

Understandably we have “Christian” standards that we, who are more mature in the faith, live by…remember that those with whom you have the privilege of discipling or mentoring do not have those deep roots yet.

treeA Parable of sorts:  A tree within the forest can grow for hundreds of years.  As that tree grows (slowly) over time, the root system expands and deepens into the fertile soil.  Younger trees, however, are more susceptible to the prevailing winds as their roots have yet to embed and deepen.

Remember, dear mentor, soldier, friend, that God has been patient with us…and we are far from perfect even now.
Go slow with those you disciple.
Be patient.
Don’t discourage those that are young in the faith because they still have many roots to deepen…show them that you care and that they truly are loved and accepted!

2.  Be Real, Be Genuine! real
The second right way is to be honest.
Don’t hide the fact that you yourself still struggles with things of this life.
Don’t try to make yourself look perfect in every way.
Don’t hide behind some sort of “Super Soldier” facade.
Be a real person who is accessible and honest with those that you disciple.
Two things happen when we are real and genuine:
a. We have a more tender hearted approach to those we mentor because we too have become vulnerable.
b. the disciplee will see honest living, nothing faked, and they will treasure this gift!

Do you know what millennials despise more than anything? – Disingenuous overly religious people who are hypocrites and hide behind religious sayings and mantras but are in no way righteous in their living.
I think Jesus despised disingenuous people as well…no wait, I know He did!  Lead by example, not by dictating laws and rules…Genuine living trumps hypocrites and phonies any day!

bible13. Reverence of Scripture and life application!
Are there other spiritual sources for encouragement and Christian living?  Of course, but do not discount the power of God’s Word.  Were the people who wrote various books in the Bible perfect?  Of course not!  But there is also hope, joy and encouragement wedged within those pages as well!  Teach from the Word of God!  Make sure it is utilized when mentoring disciples of the faith.  Life application should take place within the narrative lessons of the Bible.  When reading passages of scripture, I still ask myself the question “what can I learn and apply in my own life from this story or teaching?

The Bible is not obsolete, it is not writings of an ancient people that has no footing in our world today…so use it wisely.

4.  Point To Holiness
For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.” 1 Thessalonians 4:7

This walk of faith that we are on, directs us to the longing and the need to be like Christ in every way.
This isn’t some mumbo-jumbo babble about holiness, this is our prime example of holy living!
Mentors, speak of holy living often!
Live holy lives!
Display selflessness.
Be genuine and sincere.
Allow those you disciple to understand who we are to imitate and follow after!
Speak often of the workings of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Of His indwelling within us.

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21

5.  Invest of yourself and your time!  clock
If we are leading disciples of Christ into a deeper relationship with Him, we must make ourselves available!
This includes our “personal spaces”, times of real fellowship can occur in places other than the corps building!
I recall those mature Christians who mentored me – they were accessible, they were available to my questions, they were there when I needed them.  Are we available to those we disciple?  How much of our time are investing in them?

Again, this is not a sprint but a marathon.
Discipling people will demand our attention and our time.
Are we prepared to give it?
Are we prepared to give of ourselves?
Those we disciple will know if we feel inconvenienced all the time with their questions and need to linger with us.
Be patient, and compassionate and kind.
Your attention to them will make a difference!

Note:  You don’t necessarily have to have a book on “how to disciple” someone.
Sure, there are good materials out there, but if you don’t have text books available to you to lead someone through a discipleship/mentoring program, just be who God has called you to be and teach through example and through the Word of God!

Photo Mar 10, 11 07 43 AMDear Salvation Army,
we need more willing, godly Soldiers to step up and disciple others!
We need more examples of holy living in our corps!
We need more examples of holy living to our young people who are being pulled in every which way and could succumb to the immense pressures of temptation and sin.

Will you go?
Will you disciple?
Will you invest of yourself?
Will you be the very reflection of Christ?

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

Dear Salvation Army, 5 Wrong Ways To Disciple (part 1)

Discipleship is important.
Jesus lived with His disciples for 3 years, and in those three years He taught them through both words and deed.  They were not mere students in a classroom learning some “concept”, they engaged humanity and encountered the Divine as He loved and led.  Our prime example of discipleship should Christ and how He instructed His followers.

Some within the The Salvation Army, as well as other denominations, have never been properly discipled.
One might contend that soldiership classes count as discipling, but I believe it is only a drop in the bucket and is not enough. Others might contend that youth classes like junior soldiers and corps cadets are a form of discipling, again, a good start but not enough.

Discipleship is more than a passing grade.
Discipleship is more than completing a work book with a mentor.
Discipleship is SO much more than these things.

We begin this two part series on discipleship with the wrong ways to disciple.
Some of these might be obvious to you, but it never hurts to put these down in writing…so here goes:

5 Wrong Ways To Disciple:

1.  “Do as I say, not as I do!”  lead
This is can be a very slippery slope.  Mentors and Disciplers want to be good leaders of others, but sometimes putting into practice what is preached (even to the leader) is easier said than done.  We all find it much easier to tell others how to live while experiencing the same struggles of daily temptations of old habits that haven’t quite passed away.  If we live by this principle within our leadership model, we could very well be leading people astray because they will inevitably watch us closely in how we conduct ourselves and they WILL notice our inconsistencies in faith and practice.

Photo Mar 09, 11 37 10 AM2.  “Fake it”
“I’m reminded of your authentic faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice...  (2 Timothy 1:5a)

This is inexplicably linked to the above “wrong way” of discipling.
Discipleship is vital to our pathway of holiness.  What I mean by that is: we cannot become like Christ if we do not first long to emulate Him in every way…we cannot simply fake it!    A true disciple of Christ is willing to place the great commission of Christ and the needs of others above them self.  If we, as leaders, mentors and instructors don’t first walk with Christ in every way how can we expect those that we disciple to walk with Christ?  Faking it is not an option.  For a time we can fool others, but we again, will not fool God!

Secondly, and quite obviously, we cannot either by word of action teach disciples to simply plod through and fake it.  “If you don’t know the answers, just fake it.”,  “If you have no faith, just fake it!”, “If you don’t like that person, just fake it!”

Perhaps you think this sets the bar too high, and maybe unobtainable to everyone.
Jesus isn’t asking for our human perfection, just our faithfulness and authenticity.

3.  Abuse Scripture biblethumping
not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock...” (1 Peter 5:3)
Disciplers and Leaders, be mindful that although you have authority over those you lead that you yourself are also being held accountable to God!  Do not utilize scripture for the purpose of making the disciples your servants.  It sounds funny saying this, but in placing these disciple under you the temptation is there for you to make them do things for you or by forcing them to lead things in church when perhaps they are not ready to do so.

Another way in which we might abuse scripture is through plucking out specific verses in order to fit our needs.  Be aware of the this!  Look at the context of verses in scripture.  Do not try to force scripture verses to imply something that they were never intended to imply.  Also, do not use scripture as weapons against those you disciple.  Isn’t it interesting how scripture can be weaponized sometimes?  Please don’t do this.  It not only serves to make scripture become something its not, but it can and will drive people away from the faith!

4.  It’s all about the uniform (Outward Appearances)  cup
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.(Matthew 23:25) 

Please know that I am not calling you Pharisees today, that is not my intention with the above verse.
What I am implying is that we in the Army can become so “uniform” focused that we can run the risk of being outwardly focused on appearances than about the internal cleanliness of the “cup”.  We want to be one Army strong and focused on the battle to win souls for Jesus, but if we skip the sacred step of consecration in lieu of appearances and numbers we will have already lost the war.  The uniform, like baptism and communion are merely (or should be) an outward evidence of an inward change.  Sometimes we might get the cart before the horse.  Many times is this deeply personal and at the same time extremely corporate.  If we strive as leaders to just those we disciple into uniforms for the sake of numbers (I hope this doesn’t happen very often) we will have done true discipleship a great disservice.

classroom5.  It (Discipleship) should only be taught in a classroom with a book.
Please turn to chapter six in your work books and let’s finish this fill in the blank section…
Discipleship isn’t only some class you might take part in.
Discipleship isn’t about filling out sections of a book.
These things can certainly help, and I am not discounting these as elements or tools for discipleship, but discipleship is SO much more than the classroom setting!  If there is no challenge outside the walls of the classroom to actively engage and put into practice in daily life what was learned, then it is all for naught.

Jesus took His disciples out into the field.  He didn’t do everything for them.  He had them put into practice all that they had learned.  They (the disciples) were still a work in progress, but Jesus lovingly pushed them along in hands on training with real life situations.

Disciplers, mentors, how do we do this for those that we train to become disciples of Christ?

These are just five wrong ways to disciple, I am sure there could be more to discuss.
The key is to recognize what a privilege and responsibility that we have been given.
Let us disciple with sober intentions, love, compassion and grace…
Something more for Army to ponder today.

To God be the glory!

What Is Lent? Is It Emphasized Enough In The Salvation Army?


I am able to write today on because here in Minnesota (where I live) it is a balmy -25 with a windchill of up to -45.  Needless to say our worship services have been canceled today.   That being said, I wanted to ruminate for a moment on the topic of Lent.  Lent is a forty day period leading up to Good Friday and ultimately Easter Sunday.  It is an important season within the universal Christian church – throughout all denominations.  It is interesting to note that Lent is a forty day period which does not include the Sundays leading up to Easter.  One might wonder why the Sundays are not included in the “40 days”.  The easy answer is that each Sunday is traditionally its own mini Easter in and of itself.  Talk about building to a glorious finale’ within something so profound and life changing!

Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others.” (source:

Lent is so much more than giving something up for 40 days.  I once tried giving up coffee for lent…THAT did not end well!

Lent is more than performing the Lord’s Supper in services.  lent1
It should be an act of self-denial as we contemplate what Salvation means to us and that of this most important relationship with Christ.   His ultimate sacrifice and victory over sin and death leads us into this deeper contemplation and acts of self-denial.  Can we afford to restrict ourselves?  Can we afford to deny our bodies from something important to us?  Some might contend that the extreme “self denial” act was demonstrated in the form of the old controversial act of self flagellation.  I certainly do not recommend this method of “religious practice”.   Christ suffered and died for our sins and though some used to contend that self flagellation was a means to become more “Christ-like” self torture is just too extreme and I believe not what Christ had in mind when He said “Do this in remembrance of me”.

There is the danger of avoiding the Lenten season all together and I would not recommend this route.
Leading worshipers into these times of self-reflection and spiritual walks which leads to the cross and the tomb is vital.  If we avoid such potential sacred moments with our flock, we could be depriving them of facing the cross all together.  It is more than the cross.  It is more than the empty tomb.  It is about what Jesus has done for the very fabric of existence in the souls of men and women everywhere.

Secondly, Lent can be an intense refocusing of our great commission here on earth.  Revisiting the Divine in this way can provide us better eyes to see our neighbors, our friends, families and especially enemies.  Christ died for everyone.  He came for the whosoever and He longs for right relations with ALL, not just a select few.

When we under-emphasize this potentially sacred time in the yearly calender, we run the risk of under-emphasizing Salvation as a whole.  We remove some of the mystery of God himself.  I believe we run the risk of stripping down Holiness and depriving those who need it most.  We ought not shy away from Lent, we ought to embrace it in the hopes of drawing closer to Christ-likeness.

ritualsIt’s Not About Rituals, It’s About Holy Relationship!
Some might suggest that the practice of Lent is a little too “High Church” for The Salvation Army.   Some might ask, “well what do you consider the entire practice of “Lent” to be?  I fear that The Army steers too clear of any formal High Church practice because of the notion that most constituents would not understand or because there is no spiritual value in its practice.   I beg to differ.   I am not saying that we ought to pick up some waffers and some grape juice, but I am saying that If we practice and preach Self-denial, then we ought to be preaching a lenten message as well.   One of the big questions is – are we ONLY preaching self-denial in conjunction with World Services?  Are we only preaching self-denial in conjunction with fundraising in our corps?  I hope not!  With the right direction, Corps Officers and Local Officers can lead all corps members into a vital and precious season of Lent.

There is a lot to discuss here.
I will not dive too deeply today.
I only want to start the conversation again.
This is a primer of sorts, as we wade into the kiddie section of the pool.  😉

In being “non-sacramental” in practice, are we really emphasizing the transformed life in sacramental living (My life must be Christ’s Broken Bread)?
If not how can we improve this?
How is “Self-denial” emphasized in your corps?
Is Self-denial important to you?
Is the Lenten season important for The Salvation Army?
Can we emphasize the Lenten Season while refraining from what we perceive to be “unimportant rituals”?
Has your Corps ever conducted a traditional Sader Feast?
Is there/should there be a correlation between our spiritual act of self-denial and lent?
What does prayer and fasting mean to you?
Is the practice of Lent really THAT important?

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

Breaking News…”Misremembering” And The Quest For Integrity

Brian Williams has been suspended from NBC this week.
Longtime NBC anchorman was challenged by others within the media world as to the substance of his “encounters” while reporting on the Iraq war in 2003.  His “misremembering” of specific details has left some scratching their heads while others calling for his immediate termination.  Whether intentional or not, the fallout of “misremembering” at the journalistic level will undoubtedly have consequences.

Similarly, within the Christian world “misremembering” and/or inconsistencies of witness will also undoubtedly have consequences!  Like those who report the news nationally and internationally, Christians leaders are looked up to.  They provide other Christians and would-be believers vital information, sources of hope, and godly direction.  Integrity and honesty should be a given, although there have been some who have fallen from grace over the years. swaggart

The witness of Christians can become greatly devalued when inconsistencies and misremembering takes place.  What good is it to speak of love and grace and even Jesus when suddenly we misremember how we are to treat other people?  What good are these Christian qualities when our actions and attitudes do not resemble our words?  Worse yet, what good is it to go to church and sing all the right songs and pray all the right prayers only to walk out of those doors and resemble anything but a Christ follower in our unhealthy habits, speech and actions?

Do we run the risk of running empty on integrity when we misremember how we are to be as Christians?  You bet we do!  The unfortunate consequences of lack of integrity as people of faith is that we will lead people away from God. Why would people want to seek out Christ when His very own followers do not practice what they preach?

Two things happen when we live within the “misremembered” and dishonest walk of “faith”

hypo1. Our Christian witness is compromised, phony and detremental to others who are ACTUALLY living as God has called the faithful to live.  We are not only ruining the chances of potential new believers coming to the faith, but we are making it even harder on other believers who are living lives of integrity.   It only takes a few rotten apples to ruin the whole bunch.  When others look at the church they will mostly likely first see the rotten ones.  We must be aware of our witness to others…it matters THAT much!

2.  Our personal faith and growth will be stuntedstunted
…from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.”  (James 3:10-12)
Living a dishonest life within the realms of faith will inevitably shortchange our potential maturity and growth.  We cannot live this way.  As James puts it “this ought not be this way“.   We jeopardize not only the Christian witness to others, but we tarnish our own paths and limit what God can do through us by living this way.   Living a “misremembered” life that lacks integrity is cheap and unfortunately more common than not.  Dare I say that Christ has called us to live the uncommon life that is full of integrity, love and obedience!

BrianLet’s face it, Brian Williams isn’t the only one who has “misremembered” things, he was just caught.
Many are just as guilty of this same character flaw.  Brian Williams just happened to be in the public eye reporting the news.  Will there be more who will fall from grace?  Of course…but you and I do not have to be included in this statistic if we are mindful of this trap!  Integrity is a valuable, often tarnished commodity that many lack today.  As people of faith, we ought to make it our goal to strive to live integrity in all that we do and all that we are!

Let’s stop the “misremembering” madness in our own lives and start practicing honesty, sincerity and truth both in word and deed.

Something more to ponder today!

Dear Salvation Army, Selling Your Soul For Relevancy…

It is one thing to be culturally relevant in our worship settings:
-For the music to be relevant to the demographics of our congregations.
-For the messages to be relevant to our target audiences.
I’m not saying relevancy is wrong…we need to be relevant to some degree!


could there ever be a point at which we sell our souls for the sake of relevancy?
How far is too far?
How far do we go in order to reach our local cultures yet do not lose our souls in the process?  There is no denying that The Salvation Army is needed and has the capacity to do wonderful things as we strive to help people in need.  We mustn’t lose this in any transformational process.   We cannot lose our identities as an Army of Salvation for the sake of “fitting in”.  Booth wasn’t so much concerned with “fitting in” as he was concerned with meeting human needs in Christ’s name.  He even worked with politicians to change labor laws and make working conditions safer for people by building a match factory.    Booth wasn’t about merely “fitting in”, he (Catherine too of course) was about making a difference in people’s lives while sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Wearing a uniform doesn’t quite allow any of its Salvationists to “fit in”…but they are certainly identifiable, and these elements which make us stand out can help us to be a light in a seemingly dark world.  We have the capacity to help transform lives with the help and power of the Holy Spirit.  Our main goal should never just be about relevancy.  This isn’t the main principle of what we do and who we are (or vice-versa).  The principle can still be summed up in one of our oldest slogans “Soup, Soap, Salvation!”  We were formed to go for souls and go for the worst.  We are united under one God, One Salvation, One Hope for the whole world.  We cannot water this down, but we can offer hope, love, support and grace one spoonful at a time.

Dear Salvation Army, have we sold our souls at times for relevancy?
Are we doing it right now?

Sometimes I fear that we chase the almighty dollar more than we chase after the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes I think that we fear what other entities including governments will do to us if we boldly proclaim the name of Jesus Christ in our programs and in public places.

Sometimes I wonder if we aren’t an army of Salvation anymore but rather more of an army of convenience and platitudes as long as no one is offended by the gospel.

Sometimes I wonder if we have lost a step in this march because of it.
Sometimes I wonder if we have been chasing after the approval of other people instead of the approval of God.


If this has ever or is the case…then we need repentance.
If this is the case in our personal ministries we need to seek reconciliation and a realignment of priorities and holiness.

To the faithful and to the upright…show us the way!
Be examples to the rest of us.
Help us when we have gotten so focused upon pleasing the world around us that we have strayed from our first love.
I am not casting any blame upon anyone more than myself in this entry of Pastor’s ponderings today.  I have felt this conviction within my heart.  These are personal and yet public because perhaps, just perhaps there are others out there who feel the same way.

Join me, pray with me, pray for me…and I will pray for you as well.
We are not alone in this fight…we never were.
We are an Army, fighting side by side and with the power of the Holy Spirit who can and will provide us His strength and guidance along this dusty rugged path.

“Give me one pure and holy passion.
  Give me one magnificent obsession.
 Give me one glorious ambition for my life
  To know and follow hard after You.

To know and follow hard after you
To grow as your disciple in your truth
This world is empty, pale, and poor
Compared to knowing you, my Lord
Lead me on and I will run after you
Lead me on and I will run after you”


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

Dear Salvation Army – The Pathway Of Duty Is Agony Sometimes!

It is not our Salvation that keeps us Holy.  It is but a component of this saving grace.  It isn’t our intellect that saves us either.  It is the work of Christ and the continuing fellowship of the Holy Spirit within us.  We are but instruments of His peace, His love and His encouragement.

wounded3Times of Trial And Wounding:
There will be times when we are accused, slandered and wounded while serving Christ.  I am not saying that we look for the opportunities to be persecuted or wounded, but they will indeed come our way if we are living out kingdom priorities as kingdom people!

There will be some who will stand in our way.
There will be some who will betray us along the pathway of duty.
There will be some who will laugh when we face out trials and wounds.
Some, even unknowingly, are ambassadors of hell as they entertain and execute malicious attacks on those who are faithful.

I am not saying we are perfect by any means.
We are all faulty, we are all in need of a daily washing of God’s grace upon us.  Yet, if we choose to walk this narrow path and are led by the Holy Spirit, we will face opposition, persecution and wounds along the way.  It is inevitable.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1:2-4

I’m sorry, what was that?
Pure Joy?  In the midst of trials of many kind?
That doesn’t sound like a joyful or fun opportunity does it?

Yet pain comes to us.
Faith produces greater faith and reliance on God, but the side-effect in this “growth process” (for lack of a better term)  is that we will experience discomfort, trials and hurt along the way.

No Pain, No Gain…no-pain-no-gain
I’m not a glutton for punishment, really I’m not…but I do know that there is a desired outcome to this “faith” thing.  We wish to be more like Christ is every way!   Ephesians 5:1-2 says, Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as afragrant aroma” (NASB)

Becoming an imitator of God will take a journey through pain and suffering.  Why?  Because our fallen world won’t allow it to happen.  Because our fallen, old sinful selves and habitual wanderings will trip us up.  Because imitating God and becoming like His son Jesus will take immense sacrifice…sometimes more sacrifice than most of us realize at the beginning of the journey.

We will suffer at the hands of others.
We will suffer at the hands of ourselves at times.
We will experience discomfort and even pain at the lengths in with we are called to sacrifice!

Without pain we will not gain our freedom within His holiness!
It sounds sadistic doesn’t it?
It’s not.  It simply is.

walking-aloneYour Path Right Now…
How is the pathway of duty right now for you?
Are you experiencing any discomfort along the way?
Is it because you have had to make sacrifices?
Is it because you are at times alone in your convictions?
Is it because you have faced (or you are currently facing) persecution and ridicule from others and felt the sting of it?

We are soldiers of Christ.
We have been set apart for His holy purpose!
We will find ruts in the road.  We will find agony, bruised shins, and distressed hearts at times along this journey.

Do you need to come the well of refreshing again?
He is able to refresh and restore you!
He is able to replenish your spent reserves.
He can and will carry you when necessary.
He wants to encourage us today and to spur us onward even in the midst of persecution, suffering and the onslaught of those who would see us destroyed because of this faith.

Be bold.
Be strong.
For the Lord your God is with you today!  (Joshua 1:9)

Carry on and know you are loved, encouraged, and supported by the Father himself!

-Just something more for our Army world to ponder today.
To God be the glory! 

Dear Salvation Army – Motivational Leadership Vs. Coercive Leadership

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”  -John Quincy Adams

A long time ago…I was in a meeting with a  particular leader and a discussion about the usage of funding came up.  It had been a cordial meeting to begin with as a group of us gathered in the meeting room with this leader.  One particular person spoke up about the allocations of funds and voiced concerns that we had little knowledge of where or why our funds were being cut and siphoned from our local programs.  Further voices also chimed in until this particular leader cut the conversation off by pounding his fists on the table and declared “enough, you will do what you’re told.  This isn’t up for discussion anymore.”  This was my first experience with coercive leadership…and I’m sure it won’t be my last.  I mean no disrespect, but I have served under some very capable leaders who didn’t have to “pull rank” in order to get the message of their leadership across.  They led through conviction, encouragement and decisive, yet compassionate grace…dare I say at times, this “gem” of leadership is quite rare in any organization…yet so desperately needed!

There is a time and a place for everything…or so Ecclesiastes says (and often misquoted).  We must recognize that there are times when the authoritative style of leadership is necessary.  We do operate within an organizational system modeled after the military after all.  That being said, let’s look at two very specific styles of leadership that is often represented in our army still today.

Motivational Leadership Vs. Coercive Leadership

Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” ― John C. Maxwell

leaders3Motivational Leadership:
When done correctly this style of leadership can be the most effective means of communicating mission and vision.  Motivational leaders don’t have to go around declaring their authority and pulling rank.  They are respected because they are right there in the trenches with those they lead.  It takes real courage and energy to be a motivational leader.  It is often the harder of the two because it can demand more of our effort and time.  Leading in this manner, one engages in their subordinates by showing them the way to success through encouragement while still holding them accountable.   There are still outcomes to be accomplished but striving for these outcomes becomes a team lead journey where all are important and often times the leader is in the back prodding their subordinates along through encouragement and praise…picture the “little train the could” as it declared “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can“.  Only within the motivational leadership style it isn’t about leadership saying “I think I can” but rather “I know YOU can!

Other elements of Motivational leaderships include – active participation along side those they lead, recognition and praise when missions and tasks are accomplished, and lastly (less used because of the prior elements) motivation through strictness (discipline).  When all else fails, the last resort (not the first) is discipline and accountability.  We should not begrudge this element of motivational leadership or even its existence.  We all need prodding from time to time.  When the other elements of this style of leadership is exhausted and there is no other recourse, this “last resort” must be employed.

When subordinates come to this outcome through one who is a motivational leaders, it can be hard to accept, though the respect of such a leader should motivate the subordinate to get back on track in the hopes of accomplishing the team effort and desired goal(s).

leaders4In comparison:
do asCoercive Leadership:
Coercive leadership is forceful, demanding and often times requires others to do that which the leader themselves would not do.  This style of leadership may be more effective in the short term, but in the long term may cause dissension, bitterness, attrition of the “team”, and could ultimately result in loss of vision and mission.

The “iron fist” is much easier to employ.  One leads with fear.  It takes less time fistto lead in this manner.  A coercive leader can simply declare “you will do what you’re told” but this isn’t motivational, rather it is leading through fear as the primer or surrogate for motivation.  This style of leadership isn’t about positive reinforcement.  Dare I say it isn’t about developing good leadership for the future either.  It is about “having it your way” as a fast food chain has famously turned into a slogan.

What About Us, Dear Army? 
What kind of leaders do we aspire to become in our ministries?
Perhaps this topic scratches the surface of some tender areas within us.  We chafe at this.  Perhaps we cough nervously and look to cast a blaming glance upon others…but it does come back to us too.  Leadership requires soldiers and officers of all kinds.  We guide the vessel, which is this army.  We can implement change within our leadership.  We can set the precedent and the need for change.  We do not have to lead out of a coercive leadership model any longer.  It might be the easy route but what is the trade off?  The trade off is that we can and will lose people that we lead along the way.

Dear Army, in order to make more disciples…in order to make more soldiers and further equip future leaders in this army, we must become the kind of leaders that others aspire to emulate and become themselves.   We must set the standard all the while motivating, encouraging and strengthening those we lead.  Only then will we be able to look upon the generations coming after us and pass on the mantel of this great army of salvation!

Something more for our Army world to ponder today!
To God be the glory!

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