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!

Dear Salvation Army, 3 Things Corps Officers Should Know About Their Soldiers!

Last week I wrote part 1 of this “two sided coin” so to speak – 3 Things Soldiers Should Know About Their Corps Officer(s)

Today I would like to conclude the second side of the coin on the topic of “things the Corps Officer should know about their Soldiers!”  Understandably without Soldiers in our corps doing the amazing work that they do, we are hopelessly lost!  We need strong soldiers to lead.  We need strong leaders to help the Corps Officers.  I understand that sometimes these two dynamics in the corps does not “gel” the way it should.  Both sides of this coin ought to recognize that we are all on the same team…but sometimes, unfortunately, it doesn’t feel that way.  I believe Satan thrives upon our disunity and polarizing leadership directions.  He wants us to fail.  We, often times, will fail in our corps, not because we lack the appropriate resources to complete the mission, but because we can’t see eye to eye, or we all think that we know what is best for the corps and we take opposing directions.

The Corps is the forefront of The Salvation Army mission – make no mistake about that!
Yes, vital lifesaving missions are also located in the Harbor Light, and ARC’s and Schools and Shelters, and in a way they are a corps unto themselves.  At the Corps level we engage the enemy and we see the hopelessness of those who come to us for help!  This fight isn’t just about who the Corps Officer is (it was never about that in the first place) but about who will lead and who will serve Christ in every aspect of this mission to the lost.
blood
3 Things Corps Officers Should Know About Their Soldiers:

1.  They Are The Long-term Investors
Local Officers and Soldiers have been there long before you came to that appointment, and they will be there a long time after you are gone.  They have invested in that the local Corps’ mission.  They understand that community probably much better than you ever will, no matter what education you might have and what your grade point average was at Training College.  I do not mean to sound snarky here by any means, I simply wish to convey how invested most soldiers are to that current Corps.  They are the backbone of the corps…or at least they should be.  Sometimes (and I know this is true) Corps Officers have run over Soldiers and Local Officers to accomplish what they believe the direction of the corps should be.  Sometimes this has happened the other way around as well.  Every Corps is different, this much is true, but when Corps Officers and Soldiers work together side-by-side, we work for the same purpose, the same cause.  Understand, Corps Officers, that your Soldiers and Local Officers are the Long-term investors of your corps!

2.  They Want To Be Led By Godly, Consistent Officers! uniform
Corps Officers, it is imperative that we lead our corps and its constituents in a godly manner.
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” 1 Peter 5:2-4
Yes, hold your local officers and soldiers accountable, but be accountable to these same standards as well!
Don’t ask something of others that you yourself aren’t willing to do either.  Be the kind of leader that leads by example and does the hard work right along with your soldiers!  God honors holy leaders who are consistent in word and deed!  Be consistent leaders!  Lead by humility and love, not by power and might!  Don’t lord over others with your authority, after all, you can and will be replaced one day.  Invest in your soldiers, but also give fully of yourself where possible.

flags3.  Delegate, Lean And Learn!
There is a HUGE difference between a seasoned Officer and a salty one.  Don’t be a salty one!  There will be difficult days as officers in this Army.  There will be times when you will want to take out your frustrations upon soldiers.  Choose your battles wisely.  Confront when you need to confront, but do so in love and by first praying about every situation that you face!
If you think of yourself as Super-Officer that wears a navy blue and red cape and one who doesn’t need any help from soldiers and local officers, then you need to kill Super-Officer.  There, I’ve said it for all soldiers everywhere.  YOU. CAN’T. DO. EVERYTHING. YOURSELF.  So stop trying to be Super-Officer, because Super-Officer will ultimately burn out, fade away and become discontent.

Corps Officers, you need to understand the vital usage of delegation.  Moses couldn’t do everything and so, thankfully he began to delegate responsibilities.  Don’t hold the reins of everything so tightly that you begin to slowly strangle your corps to death.  Let others lead when you have individuals willing and able to lead.  It may not meet your standards at first, but trust them, teach them…don’t enable your soldiers to always rely on the Officer to do everything!  You shortchange and stunt the growth of your soldiers and leaders when you become Super-Officer who leads and does everything!  So get rid of Super Officer, and delegate, teach and lean on your Soldiers!

Lastly, do not think for a minute that you have learned all there is to know about leadership, and that your soldiers and local officers can’t teach you something new!  Always be pliable and teachable yourself!  Recognize that book-learning sometimes isn’t enough and that life-learning can aid you to become a better, more godly Officer.   Your Corps, your present appointment can and will teach you something wonderful if you are available to be taught.  Do not become so prideful in your abilities that you become arrogant and incapable of the kind of change that you yourself preach about from the pulpit to others.

These are just three things Corps Officers should know about their Soldiers.
There are many more…but it begins by listening.
It begins by listening to the Holy Spirit, to your Soldiers and to the community that you serve!
So listen, lead your flock that are long-term investors, and lead them well!  Allow them to teach you something.  Allow them to learn with you.  Help them develop into the best leaders that they can be as well!  Together we can accomplish this great mission.  Together we are a stronger army!  What say you?

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

Dear Salvation Army, Submission, Ego & Abuse

I enter into this pondering knowing full-well that some may consider this rebellious conversation – this is not my intention at all.
I would like to discuss the concept of submission within the ranks of the Army.
Is submission biblical?
Submission-WDGSA
Obvious answer – Yes.
Biblical Answers See:
Romans 13:1-7,Titus 3:11 Peter 5:5Ephesians 5:21

Were there instances in the early church where submission to authority was abused?  Of course.
The fallout between the Apostle Paul and Peter was epic.
Peter exercised his authority in an inconsistent way.  He ate with Gentiles on one occasion then on another when friends of James came by, he refused because he was afraid of criticism and pressure among the “circumcised traditionalists”.
(see Galatians 2:11-13)

Some might contend that this wasn’t a submission issue, but how would the Gentiles have felt in this instance being relegated and placed below another group of people because of what they did or didn’t practice?
It was an abuse of power that the Apostle Paul had to confront Peter on.  After this or shortly after this period there is a shift in leadership within the early Church and Paul becomes the most prominent leader.  Peter still had a role to play, naturally, but this was a pivotal moment when two leaders collided on an important issue.

On Ego and Abuse: ego
Whether it is The Salvation Army, the Roman Catholic Church or places of government – egos will exist.
There will always be those who wish to achieve a certain type of status and power in order to be placed above others.
After all, didn’t the disciples argue amongst themselves as to who would be greatest (Luke 9:46)?
It isn’t too far fetched to conceive that there are times when leadership and ego collide.
Good leaders will brush off the temptation to display their power over subjugates and those they lead.
Poor leaders will wish to remind others of who they are and just who is in charge.
Honestly it is a sign of character weakness when ego in leadership leads to abuse of power.
Examples of power struggles in our Army have happened over the years.  Many variables take place and cannot always be chalked up to just ego and abuse, but it is not unheard of to have leaders ship off officers and (even employees for that matter) are sent to “punishment appointments”.  It is sometimes a means to an end.  It is sometimes validated.  Sometimes this environment develops a culture of fear.

Have we cultivated this “culture of fear” in our Army?
I certainly hope not.
I do believe that there are godly men and women who lead in a manner of holiness and conviction.
I am also not naive in my thinking that ego and abuse are exempt in our Army…it does happen, but I am hopeful that this is a rare occurrence instead of the norm.  Some might call me naive in this thought…so be it.

gloryWho do we submit to?
One of the verses that helps me on this topic (because I am really not good at submitting, if I am brutally honest) is Ephesians 5:21 – “Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
I am not a conformist by nature.
I am a fighter.
I will tell you how I feel – there’s no beating around the bush with me.
I know that I must temper this…I imagine you do as well.
I must admit submission is one of my personal struggles.
It isn’t about pride with me, it is all about trust.
For me trust in leadership has to be earned.
I need to know the leaders I serve under have my back.
I need to know that leaders I serve under will support me.
I need to know that leaders I serve under won’t throw me under the bus.
I need to know that leaders I serve under will treat me (and other officers and staff) with honesty, godliness and humility.

1.  We submit to God. 
In this complete submission we find peace no matter what life or “Army life” throws our way.
When we can fully submit to God (which isn’t easy) we can, as an act of worship to Him submit to the leaders that He has placed in our path.  This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.  This is where the true test of our mettle lays.
We can say “we trust God and we are submitting to Him fully,” and yet our actions can tell us something completely different. Holiness isn’t just about living in our corps and in our communities, holiness is also about living a life of submission…some might say these two things go hand in hand.  Will there be bad leaders who abuse power and who are led by ego?  Yes, but everyone will have to account for their own actions one day before the Father.  What we can do within our personal holiness is submit to Him first and allow Him to work in our submission to others.

2. Submit to Authority
This authority includes leaders we work under.   We are all imperfect people and we all make mistakes.  The higher you go within the spectrum of leadership, the greater the pressure and the higher the scrutiny.  Have mercy on those who lead you. Show respect, love and patience.  You may not always agree.  I am not saying roll over and accept decisions that are wrong…but choose your battles wisely.  Choose also how you will respond to criticism and correction.   This happens in every aspect of life, whether it’s a correction by a police officer for speeding, or it is a moment of correction in a conference room with your supervisor – be godly people and react in godly ways through it all.
This. is. a. tough. place. to. respond. with. holiness.

Does abuse and ego happen in our Army? – Yes.
Can we change that dynamic?  I certainly hope so.  I am willing to change it, are you?

1. Pray for your leaders.
You might be surprised what God can do to perhaps soften their heart as well as yours.
Also in our prayers God can reveal to us places where we need to be focusing on our own egos, pride and issues.
2. Some Day, Who Knows, You might be that leader…then what?  
A wise man once said to me – “remember how you were treated by that person/leader, and then strive to become a better person/leader than that in your own life.”

This is our army. flag
Lead by Submission to God.
Follow by Submission to God.
And in between, no matter the conflict Submission to God.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
(Count Your Blessings/Johnson Oatman, Jr.)

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

Dear Salvation Army – 3 Questions To Ask Before Becoming An Officer

Dear Salvationists,
this is not 3 “magical beans” reminiscent of Jack and the bean stalk, this is simply an exploration into officership.

The Truth:
Officership is not for everyone.

The Lie:
In order to live out my calling as a Soldier I MUST become an Officer.

I do not say this to discourage anyone from becoming an officer, please do not misunderstand me.
I wish to dispel the myth that in order to be fulfilled in ministry within the army one must ALWAYS become an officer.
I do not wish to undermine anyone’s calling either.
If God has specifically called you into Officership, then by all means fulfill that calling!
There are, however, some within our army who feel that in order to do more and be more they must become officers only to discover that this was not the right choice for them.  I believe this certainly does contribute to the continued and troubling attrition rate amongst officers.  One way to address this issue (loss of officers) is to ask the hard questions prior to becoming an officer.  Sometimes, not always, individuals enter training with a pie in the sky, unrealistic concept of what Officership looks like, or should look like, and then when they are sent out to appointments reality hits and they begin to say to themselves “this isn’t what I signed up for”.  THQ and DHQ are very good at reminding officers of the covenant that they signed (sometimes too good) but in all honesty some consider this covenant as just another hurdle to become an officer and wear that red trim.

Understandably, the screening process and testing done for prospective candidates has become more elaborate (depending on the territory, it will vary).   With these benchmarks in place it does help to process “qualified” candidates.  In saying this, I recognize some might take offense to this, perhaps because they did not “qualify”, or are currently in the process of becoming an accepted candidate.  To some this is frustrating.  The testing process, like many things in life, is not perfect.  Individuals have potentially made the screening process only to phase out in training or eventually leave the work for a multitude of reasons.

Putting that aside, please allow me to share three important questions one should ask themselves before committing to Officership.
DISCLAIMER: These three questions are merely primer or starter questions and are not meant to be all inclusive.  There are many more variables to consider before taking that important step, but here are three suggested questions to consider:

questions13 Questions To Ask Before Becoming An Officer:

#1 Why do I want to become an Officer?  
When we ask this personal question of ourselves we can hopefully draw some conclusions as to our purpose and intent for wanting to become an officer.  Be honest.  If you can’t be honest with yourself, then who can you be honest with?  Answering this fundamental question of officership can help to further clarify your personal goals in life.  If you feel as if God has specifically called you into this then that should be your answer.  uniIf you don’t know why you want to be an officer – that is your answer (as murky as that is)…and so you explore that possibility.  If you answer this question on the basis of relatives who are also serving in the army and you signed up because it is comfortable and familiar to you – there’s your answer.  I am not saying any, other than God calling you, are completely wrong reasons but they do become the catalyst for what kind of officer you do become.   Perhaps make a list of all the reasons that you want to be an officer, jot them down on a notepad so that you can better see them.  This might help you make a comprehensive decision and not one that you might regret if you enter into this decision half-hearted and unsure.

pray#2 Have I prayed about this?
Another honest question to ask yourself.  Not to scare you or anything but this decision is a big one!  It will impact everything that you do in life.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t change directions later, but it means that you can make the right choices at the onset by simply and prayerfully considering this decision.  Please note that I am not discouraging anyone from becoming an officer, in fact if anything I am pleading to anyone considering taking that step to do so with prayerful consideration which involves the Lord throughout the process in a daily walk with Him.

Start a prayer journal if you’re a writer or can better connect to God in this way.  For some of us articulating these emotions upon the page can help us sort through our spiritual decisions.  Have others pray for you as well.  This is probably obvious, but take the time to ask the Father for guidance.  Be specific.  Pray for support and the proper guidance of other people.  Pray and don’t hide any motives from God, because naturally He already knows our hearts.

#3 Can I Live This Life of Submission? jesus
This is the Officers Covenant that is signed while at College for Officers Training:

MY COVENANT

CALLED BY GOD
to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
as an officer of The Salvation Army

I BIND MYSELF TO HIM IN THIS SOLEMN COVENANT

to love and serve him supremely all my days,

to live to win souls and make their salvation the first purpose of my life,

to care for the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the unlovable, and befriend those who have no friends,

to maintain the doctrines and principles of The Salvation Army, and, by God’s grace to prove myself a worthy officer.

Done in the strength of my Lord and Savior, and in the presence of (the following wording to be adapted to local circumstances) the Territorial Commander, training college officers and fellow cadets.

This calling to become an officer is a sacred decision.
I do not wish to sugarcoat this.  covenant-signing
I also do not wish to paint an officer’s life as always glorious, or always rosy, or always joyful.
These things do happen,  there will be setbacks, heartaches, days of discouragement, stress and disappointment.
When we deal with people, even leaders can and will make mistakes.
We are not perfect people, but we are striving to live a life of humility and submission.
Is this easy?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!
For some of us, this is the hardest thing we could ever do.
Many do not like being told what to do, where to go, and sometimes how to do something.
Politics does happen.
Favoritism does happen too.
Living within a relationship of submission to the Lord in this capacity will not be easy.
We do trust that He knows what He is doing even when we feel others have made leadership mistakes.
We do trust that He will lead and direct even when sometimes the directions seem skewed and wrong.
Submission first to God allows us to live this life under the authority of the Army.
Can you live this way?
Are you prepared to submit to this kind of authority (even when you may not always agree)?

The life of an Officer is rewarding.
It can be fulfilling…but is this the right decision for you?
Only you and the Lord can answer that question.
There are many, many saints in this army.  Some wear red trim on their tunics and some wear blue trim on their tunics…these saints are equally needed and important in this army!!  If God has called you into Officership then get on with it and stop dragging your feet!  If He has not called you into Officership but into a place leadership and service as a soldier and/or employee of this army, then get on with it also – YOU ARE NEEDED regardless if you wear red or not.

Something more for this army world to ponder!
To God be the glory!

Dear Salvation Army, 10 – Salvationists That Have Inspired Me…

Paul had Barnabas to inspire and encourage him even if they didn’t always get a long in the end.
Paul became Timothy’s mentor who inspired a new generation of the early Christian church.
Throughout history there have been those who have stepped up to lead by example.  They have been mentors, accountability partners, strong godly leaders, examples of holiness.  Despite all of these things, none of them (and most will freely admit this) were perfect or had it “all together”.

getGet this:
Our Army needs more inspiring leaders like the ones I am about to list!
Perhaps this is you…perhaps you are the next generation of leaders about to step up and take this mantle.  This isn’t some sort of popularity contest, or ego trip…this is leading and serving as a godly example for others.   Many do this without any fan fare.
Most simply want to be like Christ and so they strive daily to humbly serve and become living examples of Him to the rest of us.  We certainly need more of these inspiring servants in our Army today!

Scriptural Reminders for us today: 
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.-Ephesians 4:2
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ…”  1 Corinthians 11:1
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved [a]you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God [b]as a fragrant aroma.”  Ephesians 5:1-2

This is not an exhaustive list, and I know that as I share my personal list with you, you will undoubtedly have others that come to your mind.   Also do not be offended (I will get my self in trouble with family and friends…sorry) if I do not list people that you know, or if I do not mention you…as I have already said this is not an exhaustive list.  There are many more!

uniform10 Salvationists That Have Inspired Me…
This isn’t some sort of ranked order, rather this is simply a list that I have currently compiled.
(sorry I may not have pictures for everyone)

1.  My Mother and Father – Colonels Dennis and Sharon Strissel
Dennis
My parents have exemplified godly living to me.
I have witnessed their impact on this army both in the United States as well as in Africa.  They have always been servants first. Both my mother and father have been advocates for those without voices and have stood up for the marginalized.  I count it an honor to have these two as my parents.  They are faithful soldiers even as they head into retirement.  They have inspired me to be better, to make the army better, and to never settle for mediocrity when we can, in own selves, do more.

cox2. Majors Bill and Betsy Cox
If I were asked who exemplifies holiness to me, these two loving people would come to mind.  They have been mentors to my wife and me, and like second parents in the army to us.

I know that when I talk to either of them, when I have concerns and problems, they always give careful thought and grace in their responses.  They are just genuine people who love the Lord with all of their hearts and it just pours out upon those who are privileged to know them.  They make me want to be a better pastor and follower of Christ.

Colonels Dahl restore historical Will Rogers sign at Camp Wonderland.
Colonels Dahl restore historical Will Rogers sign at Camp Wonderland.

3.  Colonels Marv and Bodil Dahl
Admittedly not the best picture of these two beautiful people, but you must know that Colonel Marv is a painter and despite current physical challenges, he is still a wonderful artist.  This picture is recent and both Colonels Bodil and Marv gave 90 hours each to this amazing restoration project.

Words cannot express how encouraging these two saints of God have been to me in this present appointment!   These two have been Barnabas’ to us.  They are truly servants first and then they offer their wealth of leadership advice!  I am inspired by Colonels Dahl because they operate from a place of compassionate care and concern for fellow soldiers and officers.  They take the time to listen and they are willing to make time for you.

4.  Commissioner Dinsdale Pender
This was years ago.  I was just a small boy with parents living on St. Helena Island.  My parents where the missionary officers there on St. Helena for four years.  I distinctly remember Commissioner Pender coming to the Island for a visit.  As the band welcomed him at the seaside docks with a rousing song, he fiddled with his brief case as if attempting to pull out his cornet to play as well.  For me the reason he inspired me wasn’t so much what he said, honestly I was a small boy and cannot remember much of that time.  But what I do remember of him was his charisma and humor.  He made leadership within the Army look smart as well as fun.  He always seemed to have a smile and brought a sense of whimsical humor with the concept of leadership.

5.   Major Stephen Court and Major Danielle Strickland Court

Both Stephen and Danielle bring a sense of “in your face” kind of Salvationism that’s been missing in our army for a while (in my opinion).  Their ministry has been global, it has challenged me.  I truly appreciate their leadership (albeit from afar).  I can remember going to a commissioning in which they were the guest speakers.   They didn’t hold anything back, and it was powerful.  I’m not attempting to puff anyone up here, it was just something I will never forget and it has inspired me within the ministries I have been privileged to lead.   Both in their own rights are extremely talented writers and communicators and I admire their willingness to challenge our Army onward!
They are a spark within in our army which has become a catalyst for a new generation of Salvationist!

gowans6.  General John Gowans 
I remember his leadership as General.
How he spoke of the three legged stool of Salvationism.stool
His leadership style at times chaffed against some, but I found him to be refreshing.  He was a shot in the arm for the Army.  He had vigor and passion to see a greater army at work in the world.  I admired him and he inspired me to be a better writer and communicator for this army.  He also inspired me to push the boundaries of our “bubble” within the Army.

trans7.  TransMission (Southern Territory, USA)
This is the real deal Salvationist.  They have a passion to minister to the hearts of young people through music.  They are just down to earth guys who love the Lord.  Marty

I appreciate how TransMission have incorporated doctrinal truths into their music ministry and their passion and zeal to lead others to Christ is inspiring!  Being a movement of holiness, the progression and integration of modern styles of music has planted and watered a seed within a younger generation of Salvationists.

Adams8.  Commissioner Clive Adams

Commissioner Clive has been a source of encouragement to me within my officership as well as a writer, contributor and avid fellow blogger that I greatly admire.  He is a gifted leader and communicator and another down to earth Soldier who inspires others…plus he’s a fellow Man-United Fan!
When I read his blog postings I am encouraged and enjoy his humor as well as his candid honesty within our Army.
Read9.  Commissioner Harry Read
In my heart I have a special place of poets and Writers.
Commissioner Harry Read is still an avid poet who conjures up lines of thought provoking honesty within the minds of Christ-followers and Soldiers.  His ‘Heart-talks’ posted on social media as well as in the printed word inspire me to better articulate this holy path we all walk on.  He is a treasure to the army and although I may embarrass him in this post, I admire his ongoing active ministry.  He spurs me on, and I am sure he provides this boost in many other Salvationists around the globe.  Heart_Talk

10.  General Albert Orsborn general

My life must be Christ’s broken bread
My love His outpoured wine
A cup o’erfilled a table spread
Beneath His name and sign
That other souls refreshed and fed
May share His life through mine
(SASB #512 My Life must be Christ’s Broken Bread)

Obviously I never met General Orsborn, but his words within some of the songs that we still sing in our Army strike me at my core.  These lyrics speak to me about holiness, selflessness, servanthood, and what our Army should be all about.  I get inspired every time I sing the above mentioned song among others that he has written.

These are just ten Salvationists that have inspired me in my lifetime.
There are many more and, as I have already said, please do not become offended if you or someone you know isn’t mentioned.  This is not an exhaustive list.

Question:
Who has inspired you?
Please share your comments below, it is wonderful to hear these rich stories as we testify of God’s redeeming love!

Something more for our Army to ponder today!
To God be the glory, and may we aspire to be all that God has called us to be not only to inspire others but because we deeply desire to be like Christ in every way.

Dear Salvation Army: “Politics, Placation and the Papacy…”

…First the Papacy:VATICAN: POPE FRANCESCO MEETS CARDINALS
Pope Francis has done it again.
One could categorize him as a pope who is polarizing.
Still others might categorize him as a pope who has made difficult choices but also the right choices.
However you view this leader of the Catholic church, he is certainly NOT your average run of the mill Pope.
His latest leadership decision has been to appoint Cardinals and out of the 15 nominees, 9 hail from emerging countries of the developing world.  News link: Pope Francis Names New Cardinals
I find it interesting that this leader has appointed new Cardinals from emerging countries.  Think of it?!  These countries do not have as much political or financial power as places like Italy, France, the United States and the United Kingdom but Pope Francis has appointed a majority of the new Cardinals from these places anyway?
Why?
This comes after his strong chastisement of current leadership and even stated they had “spiritual Alzheimer’s”.
Perhaps this leader has made these difficult decisions because they were the right decisions to make.
Perhaps, instead of placating incumbent, staunch “comfy” leaders, it was time to appoint new ones.
Perhaps, this leader (Pope Francis) recognizes where a majority of his church’s growth is taking place.

translationIs There a TSA Translation?
I’d like to say that we have it made in our Army.
That everything is hunky dory and peachy…but we have growth issues too!
When an organization stops growing and/or plateaus it can be a warning sign.

Questions: 
Are we recognizing the fastest growing armies (Salvation Army corps, divisions, territories that is) in the developing world?
Do we, at times, play the political game because of where a majority of our World Services funds come from?
Do we, at times, placate and position ourselves in order to appoint leaders?
crest6Some of these questions are well beyond me.
What do I know?
I am a lowly Captain.
But I am a soldier of this army.
I believe our voices are important…don’t you?
But it seems to me that there is something for us here.
Please don’t misunderstand my point.
I do not wish to emulate any other denomination other than our own.
We were created for a purpose, a holy purpose I believe.
We are not the Catholic church…nor should we ever strive to be.
We DO have much to learn though.
In retrospect we are this very, very, young Mission/Army of the Universal Christian Church (big ‘C’).
We have some growing to do.
God is not finished with us yet.
Perhaps, within this “growing”, there will be pains, groans, the occasional adjustment.

Are we all that we can be as an Army?  (Sorry if I stole a line there from an old United States Army slogan)
Are we wise enough yet in our 150 year existence to recognize the need to shuck off politics, placating practices and to see the bigger Army – world wide?
compassion
I believe politics and policies at times ties our hands.
It hog ties us.
It holds us captive.
Dare I say, it places limits on the moving of the Holy Spirit in our Army…especially when there are far too many “hoops” to jump through these days to get anything done.  Could it be that we have become like pharisees in rule keeping that we have far too many laws and rules to abide by that we truly cannot keep them all?

I’m certainly not advocating anarchy by any means, but I am wondering where this Army is going if we are too bogged down with maintaining instead of expanding this mission of the Lord?
JoetheTurk
Who knows, perhaps there IS something that we can learn from this rebel-rouser Pope…perhaps the days of Joe the Turk aren’t dead after all in this army…here’s to hoping anyway!
Something more for our Army to ponder today.
To God be the Glory.

Dear Salvation Army, Warning – Spiritual Alzheimer’s and Atrophy!

Pope Francis recently criticized his own church’s bureaucratic leaders of being power hungry and having spiritual Alzheimer’s.
Wow!  Hearing those words strewn together for me has become a warning of sorts to us here in the Army.  This is something very practical that I believe we too face in the Army.

power
Politics & Bureaucracy:
Politics and bureaucracy exists in every church regardless of denomination.
Believe it or not, dear soldier, we too have this struggle in our army.   We too have, at times, individual leaders who suffer from spiritual Alzheimer’s .  We too have, at times, have individual leaders who are afflicted with spiritual atrophy of the heart.  Politics and favoritism is nothing new and it certainly does happen within this army too.  Does that make it ever right?  Absolutely not.  Can God intercede?  He certainly can and He will.

crest6The Real Danger In Our Army:
You see, dear soldier, the real danger in our Army doesn’t come from outside, it comes from within.
We can be our own worst enemies at times.  We can get so caught up in preserving these political games and regulations that we, in effect, execute fellow soldiers for it.  The danger in our army IS SPIRITUAL ALZHEIMER’S!  The danger in our army is SPIRITUAL ATROPHY!  This can happen not just to people within executive levels of leadership though, don’t fool yourself into thinking you are immune, No!  This can happen to anyone within our ranks of this Army!  Be careful!  Watch out!  Don’t lose sight of who you serve and why you serve!


To the power hungry: 

Your craving for power will eventually ruin you.
Your lust for positions and destroy your ministry.

To those afflicted:
You have become the church of Laodicea…so watch out!
Turn back!  Seek repentance.  God will not honor your efforts of lukewarm spirituality!
He will not honor these petty offerings of lip service and displays of “soldiership”.  God knows our hearts!
God doesn’t want these afflictions to destroy us!  He wants us to be spiritually healthy, not spiritually atrophied!

Dear soldier, look out for these pitfalls in our Army!  Spiritual Alzheimer’s and Atrophy is very real!
Be aware of them.  Do not slip into the same trap as others have already done!  Do not forsake your first love for the lust of power and position.  Do not become slack in your devotion to Him.  Do not keep Him too far from your heart and mind.  We need you!  We need the next generation to step up and be on fire again for the Lord!  We need more than lip service and positions telling us how to move this army forward.  We must not stop fighting for the lost and seeking to help the marginalized in our world!  When those who become afflicted with such spiritual diseases see the marginalized and poor they close their doors to your offices of power and close their eyes as well.  We cannot afford to do this, dear soldier!  We were commissioned by God, as Christ’s disciples first to lead others to Him.  We must not falter in this.  We must never close our doors and close our eyes!  If we ever do, we not only jeopardize our spiritual walk but the potential spiritual walk of those seeking.

Beware, dear soldier, Spiritual Alzheimer’s and spiritual atrophy are very, very real to our army.

-More for our Army to ponder today.
To God be the glory!

Dear Salvation Army, How To Build A Healthy Corps

Dear Soldiers and Officers, this is not the end all or be all of Corps Growth or the “How to” guide for all things Corps…but this is a start, a primer of sorts.

I want to delve into this topic of building a healthy corps today because I feel it vital to consider the basic elements that make up a healthy, vibrant corps.  All too often we can simply settle, maintain the status quo but never truly experience the thriving pulse of vibrancy.  Dear Soldiers and Officers, let’s not settle for mediocrity in our corps.  Let’s not plod onward thinking we can’t improve or grow more deeply spiritually as a corporate body.

Here are four basic elements for us to consider today.  These are tools to help us experience and create a healthy, vibrant corps.  ***(Disclaimer, we are not striving solely for a number increase, nor should we look over the fence at another larger corps and church and exclaim “let’s become them”…embrace your corps’ identity in your community)***

4 Basic Elements To Building a Healthy Corps:

meeting1.  Prayer & Prayer Meetings
It seems like some sort of over-simplistic Sunday school answer.  “You have a problem?  Then pray about it.”  But here is reality; those who pray together, weep together, laugh together, strive together, fellowship together will become strong…TOGETHER.  Long ago our corps would meet for prayer meetings and they would gather together, sometimes holding hands and pray for the needs of their congregation and community.  Some still meet like this…many have ceased to meet in such a way.   Soldiers and Officers – THERE IS GREAT POWER IN PRAYER!  Both corporately and privately.  I don’t mean to sound callous, but somewhere along the way a majority of us stopped meeting like this.  I am not sure if we truly believed God would hear us in our prayers or if we just simply got tired of meeting together.

Prayer is a vital spiritual discipline both corporately and privately.  It takes concerted effort to pray for each other and for everyone to ACTUALLY SHOW UP to these meetings of prayer.  If we want to experience a healthy corps, then we need to pave the way with fervent, meaningful times of prayer upon our knees.  The vital signs of our corps may not improve drastically overnight, they may not improve in a month or two…but over time the Lord will grant us a softened heart and a yearning to bring the needs of our corps into focused concentrated prayer.  When this happens, true love will spill over us for each other; true fellowship can occur; a sincerely desire to see God transform lives within the corps will also happen within us.

2.  Intentional Discipleshipdiscipleship
I don’t mean just some printed materials we use in a six week course.  I don’t mean just another program to count on a stats sheet…I mean Christian brothers holding other Christian brothers accountable, Christian sisters holding other Christian sisters accountable.  Intentional studying of God’s word together, elder Christians guiding a patiently loving younger Christians.  Can it begin with a simple bible study tool?  Of course, but it has to become something more than just filling out answers and memorizing scripture.  Trust is sometimes an issue.  Divulging ones personal struggles with another “Christian” brother or sister can be extremely difficult and even embarrassing.  One might feel that they are too vulnerable if trust is not first established and coveted in confidentiality.  But when we disciple one another…when we yearn to grow together (because let’s be honest, sometimes we just don’t trust others in our corps and we don’t think that they have our best interests in mind)  When we can learn this spiritual discipline of discipleship, we can finally grow into the identity the Holy Spirit has been preparing us for since the moment of initial sanctification.

coffee3.  Intentional Joy & Fellowship
Not only should we be meeting for pray and discipleship but we ought to be joyously seeking fellowship together outside of the walls of our corps building.  I understand we do not all have the same interests and personalities and this might make fellowship difficult at times, but do we make a concerted effort to go to each other’s homes?  Are we seeking out times to share a meal together, go to a movie together, maybe take up a hobby together…or even bowl?  There can be joy found in laughter and the sharing of life moments together.  Are we willing to put ourselves out there?  I think that sometimes we are afraid of asking people over or taking a chance to share a meal with another member of our corps because we’re afraid we might not have anything in common or find total rejection.  If we are to become a healthier corps, we have to be willing to take a risk and to find intentional fellowship with other soldiers and friends.

Out of these intentional moments, a sweet aroma of love and joy can be expressed, so much so that others might be drawn to our fellowship.  People will see this kind of interaction of corps members and long to be a part of something like that.  Individual crave acceptance and love.  People want to “fit in”…when we make that concerted effort to fellowship with others, we can begin to emit that sweet aroma of joy and fellowship to those around us, and by proxy, we are unknowingly creating a visual type of appealing evangelism.

4.  Listen To Needslisten
I don’t merely say “Listen” to imply that we offer canned advice and suggestions, but rather when we actively listen to the needs of those around us we become more inclined to physically bridge that gap for others.  When we stop talking about our wants and needs, we can begin to listen to the needs of others.  “Others” can be those within our fellowship already as well as those who are on the fringes or living within our community.  Don’t draw a line in the sand that separates “Our People” from “Community People”…In God’s eyes ALL people are His, some just don’t know it yet.  Make sure that we allow this intoxicating joy to spill out and over not only those WITHIN but also those who are on the outside of the corps walls.  When we begin to actively listen to the needs of others, we can begin to hear the pulse of organic evangelism that is created from an Ideas book or another promotional “EVENT”, but rather is done simplistically and genuinely.  I am not saying that these other evangelistic ideas can’t be genuine, but from experience, listening to the needs of others silences the groans of prideful, often deaf, arrogant self and refocuses the heart onto true love and service to others.

These are just four ways to build a healthier corps together with you and me…and that neighbor down the street who has never been asked or invited to share in this intoxicating joy of fellowship.  Remember, we are saved to save and in the process we can sharpen each other and grow together through holy living.

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

Dear Salvation Army, 4 Warning Signs To Watch Out For In Ministry…

Ministry is rewarding, but it isn’t always easy.  Along the way pastors, lay ministers, Salvation Army officers and soldiers face challenges both big and small.  Is it our responsibility to produce larger and larger statistical successes?  Dare I say the answer is “no”…but, it is our responsibility to be faithful to God as He provide the opportunities to us and we can help usher in souls through relevant, practical relationships and evangelism.

That being said, there are 4 warning signs that I would like to point out today that might help us in our ministries.  These aren’t an exhaustive list of warning signs, merely four of them…there are probably many more to be mindful of.

4 Warning Signs to Watch Out For In Ministry: 

1) Lack of commitment –commitment 
Small Group ministries, for example, can be very rewarding because it is ministry in an intimate setting, but sometimes small groups can be a notoriously uncommitted group.  Whatever the ministry event, group or activity you embark on, if the commitment level isn’t there it will not be successful.  Commitment has almost become this horrific word in our society today because there is so much attention demands for individuals and families.  These demands include school activities, sports, extra-curricular activities, family time etc.  Then comes the church pastor or officer/local officer who is asking for more of  a commitment by this person or family as a small group or bible study begins.  A corps member’s time is valuable to a lot of areas and sometimes the corps loses an element of commitment by its soldiery because it just can’t compete with other extra-curricular event.

This isn’t an excuse to just eliminate that ministry opportunity.  Look for ways to adjust, incorporate and work around people’s crazy schedules.  There should be possibly ways to compromise so that attendees are available for personally geared ministries.  Be sensitive to the needs of families in your corps, study their schedules and make every possible attempt to provide times of ministry at the best times during the week.  I am not saying cater to every corps’ member’s whims and needs but I am saying be sensitive to schedules and busy lives.  If we can make every opportunity available to our soldiers to attend then committing to a personalized ministry opportunity will be easier.

Lastly, this doesn’t mean everyone will just rush in and commit to attend…some corps members (whether on the fringes or even active members) will only conveniently show up when it best suits them.  Perhaps, at some time, when all of your efforts have not produced their commitment level, you may want to confront them on this lack of participation.  But ensure first that your bible study or small group is something of which that person(s) will relate to or need in their lives.

hotdog2) “Hotdog” Leadership

Definition:  A “hotdog leader – one who shows off, refuses to share, enjoys the lime-light, is a “ball” hog.

Moving away from commitment to, perhaps an extreme level of commitment, be mindful of the dangers of solo leadership.  Jesus didn’t teach His disciples to become solely dependent on Him to do everything, and neither should we with our soldiers and corps members.  I am not saying that you and I are Jesus, but we have been placed in people’s lives to display the example of Jesus to them.  In so doing, we ought to be mindful that a proactive leader is one who produces ownership in its corps members and soldiers.  Ministry should never be one sided.  It wasn’t intended to be this way.

When I was a younger officer every Sunday was the “Scott Show”, meaning I didn’t fully trust those around me to be of much use in the Sunday morning holiness meetings.  It was prideful I know.  I micromanaged everything and wanted everything to be done my way.  I was a control freak when it came to how I wanted our worship to be.  Some of that isn’t all bad mind you.  Some of that planning is necessary…but without the use of other leaders in corps we can become “Hotdogs” in the pulpit.

One might argue that many within our ministries are not equipped to lead anything.  Maybe so, but hotdog leadership doesn’t provide any shared ownership opportunities either.  Perhaps we can assign small tasks to some who are not able to lead.  Perhaps we can assign larger tasks to those who are capable to lead.  This warning sign within our ministries is crucial to heed.  If we lead everything we could possibly stunt the spiritual growth of potential leaders of our corps.

3) Tunnel VisionMysterious tunnel to the light
Tunnel Vision sometimes goes hand in hand with “hotdog” leadership.   While other times tunnel vision can be a stand-alone problem of lack of vision while performing mundane ministry tasks by simply “going through the motions”.

News Flash:  Just because a program worked twenty years ago doesn’t mean that it is still viable today.  Sometimes we have to changes things up even if that change causes initial discomfort within the body.  Remember that ministry programs are two-fold – for edification of the current body of believers as well as the opportunity of adding to that body via evangelism and welcoming newcomers.

I believe that can become quite easy to fall prey to tunnel vision in our ministries.  To avoid the slippery slope of “the tunnel” here are a few remedies:

      a) Have a healthy prayer and devotion life as a leader!
This will keep you in-tune with the Holy Spirit as He guides and directs
both your personal relationship as well as your role as leader in your
ministry.

b) Become (if you already aren’t) a reader!  
Not just reading the Bible, which is vital, but read other spiritual authors
challenge yourself within the realms of Christian-living and practical
ministry ideas.

c) Listen to your people!
Engage them at where they are.  Be mindful of where you want them to
go.  Gauge their participation as well as their interests.  From this vein,
research and mold your ministries around their needs and spiritual
challenges.

forgive4) Lack of Trust/Un-confessed sins
This may seem to be a “two-fer” (my Minnesotan is coming through in that term), but it’s connected!  Trusting someone with your deepest darkest sin is crucial for divulgence.  If you or another leader isn’t trusted, a soldier or corps member will most likely refrain from sharing those burdens that they carry.

Be aware of this crucial component of ministry.  Be a leader that is safe to be around.  Be a leader who is trustworthy and  capable of providing a safe, listening ear.  It takes a concerted effort to merely listen instead of offering sage advice.  Sometimes people need less Yoda and more of an ear.  When one finds a safe place to confide, sins can be confessed.

I am not discounting the work of the Holy Spirit or trying to eliminate His power in any and every occasion, but we as leaders should be wise in presenting the gospel and His truths within a safe and loving environment which allows people to face their sins without the judgement of others muddying up the waters of forgiveness and grace.

Watch Out!
These are just four warning signs to watch out for in our ministries.  If we can circumnavigate these trappings, our ministries will be healthier for it.  Allow His wisdom to guide you.  Be diligent in your prayer life for those within you serve as leader.  Take great effort to truly listen to your soldiers and corps members.  Be aware of tunnel vision and its slippery slope.  Take great effort as well to be a safe harbor for those seeking God’s grace, love and forgiveness.

Something more for this Army of Salvation to ponder today.
To God Be The Glory!

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