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?
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!

The Black-eye Of Sports

I love sports.
I am an avid fan of various sporting teams.
There are certain players that I enjoy watching play the game.  There are superstars with an insane amounts of talent and to see them in action is truly inspiring.  I don’t want to take away anything from these sports that I love.  The game, in its pure form, can be spectacular to behold.

Recently in the news there have been stories of rampant racism, and domestic violence.  Some perpetrated by team owners while other acts such as domestic violence perpetrated by big named players.  It makes us sit back a bit from the couch.  It makes us re-evaluate what is important in life, beyond our weekly fascination with our home town teams.

The Black-eye of Sports:
The issues are really two-fold.
1) Personal struggles.  domestic
Sometimes it’s because people have harbored ignorance and racism in their lives and these troubles that have been left unresolved and addressed.   In 2014, it is shocking yet not surprising that racism is still alive.  It hurts my heart to even imagine ignorance like this still kicking.  It hasn’t gone away, but I sure wish it would.  While other times individuals have grown up in environments where learned abuse has become a “passed on” trait in their lives.  This does not excuse abuses by any means!  Violence against women or children, or anyone else for that matter, cannot and should not be tolerated!  When a sports figure, no matter how nationally recognized they are, is convicted or has displayed evidence of such a crime, they should not be allowed to continue to take a public stage in their respective sport.  Consequences for violence should be swiftly dealt with by both the league they compete in as well as the appropriate legal system(s).

But this topic is also quite complex as well.  There shouldn’t be just punishment for the offender.  If these individuals have grown up in homes of abuse and in turn have become abusers as well, counseling and rehabilitation ought to be sought also.  How will this cycle ever end if both the short term outcomes as well as the long term outcomes aren’t addressed?

rug2) Sweeping Things Under The Rug…
Sports franchises and leagues ought to be held accountable if they ignore such acts of violence by their players.  The whole Ray Rice situation has been both quietly and publicly analyzed.  Did the NFL try to keep the evidence under wraps?  What was the extent of their responsibility?  Did they scramble and only react because of the public outcry?  What does it say about integrity and ethics?  Understandably action was taken but if there had not been such a public response who these reactions been as severe?

zeroZero Tolerance For Every League!
No matter what the sport, every league should analyze how they respond to such proven crimes of domestic violence as well as evidence of racism.  Serious offenses such as these ought to be handled both in the court system but also within each respective leagues.  This isn’t JUST an NFL issue.  I believe other leagues are ignoring potential horrific abuses of the kinds as well.  I hope that every league in the US (and abroad) would implement vital policies to stop abusers of every kind long before the public gets wind of viral videos, long before there is applied pressure by the public.  I am hopeful that leagues will become more sensitive in protecting the innocent instead of protecting their investments…that they seek to send a message to the rest of society that abuse of any kind is wrong and should never be tolerated.

For The Rest Of Us…stop
We too have a responsibility to society.
We may not know star athletes and we may not travel among classes of wealth (perhaps some of you d0)…but we should  have a responsibility in our local communities and neighborhoods.  We can end domestic violence.  We can stop it, report it, and combat it through non-violent means.  We have a voice.  We have various means to end these awful, sometimes unspoken, crimes.  We should never ignore such blights of society.  We cannot turn a blind eye to innocent children and women being abused behind closed doors in their homes.

We shouldn’t turn a blind eye to racism in the work place, the social gather spaces or  our neighborhoods either.  We must actively campaign against such ignorance and injustice.

We may not be able to individually control sports leagues and their wealthy bankrolled lawyers and image consultants.  But we can implement change within our own communities, stand up from the innocent and work towards publicly altering the environment in which these leagues operate in.

As a Christian and a Pastor, It is vital that we help those in need including and especially those without a voice.  Abuse is no joke.  It can permanently damage lives and ruin families.  Speak up, take a stand and help to end domestic violence!

Something more to ponder today.

For more information on Domestic Violence:
Domestic Hotline
End Racism!
Fight racism now!
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Other sources

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