Dear Salvation Army, 3 Smart Strategies To Army Mission…

Dear Salvation Army Soldier & Friends, our mission doesn’t exist without those that push the mission and strive to see it succeed!  Without soldiers and friends working so tirelessly together in an effort to meet human need in Jesus’ name, we will fail and our efforts will be in vain.  With that being said, we serve more than just the army ranks.  For officers come and officers go, and our appraisal of those wearing red may increase or decrease depending on the character of each.  But collectively we are the army.  But without Christ at the head of our army we will be without direction and hope.

It is my prayer that we keep our eyes ever on Christ as we dole out our policy and mission steps in our world.  Dare I say that there have been times when policy and administrative decisions have not made sense and/or were not made with Christ in mind at all.  Such moments in our history, I would hope are few and far between and I am instead given over to the notion that we ought to pray for each and every leader that is appointed to lead this Army.  I cannot imagine the enormity of such a mantel, yet it is thrust on many who would deem themselves quite unworthy of it.  But, beware to those who think they deserve such a mantel, even power and leadership in our army can corrupt.  So pray in earnest for one another so that we do not fall into such a temptation of pride, ego and personal ambition.

Here are three smart primer strategies to our Army mission.  There are more subtopics and conversations to be had within this pondering…after you read these starting points, why not tell us what YOU think and what we can add to this list!

1.  Leaders – listen to the “Boots on the ground!”  

bootsI cannot stress how important it is for leaders of all positions to listen to those who are actively engaged on the ground in the fight!

There are certainly Church roles that we possess in our movement, some are appointed and gifted in: administration, some in pastoring, some evangelism…and so on, yet we all must do our very best within the positions that we have been given to glorify God and to edify and encourage each other!  Leaders who simply dictate and dole out policy but rarely listen to the boots on the ground will eventually be resented and our mission will become bogged down.  Take the time to listen to those who see the need every day!  Sometimes we as leaders have to have the guts to admit when the plan we plotted isn’t working and perhaps there is a better, more effective way.  Swallow your pride and adapt!  This goes for every position of leadership from the corps setting all the way up!

savesWe cannot afford to have polarizing visions when we should all be seeking to remain mission minded and focused.  There’s no time for that!   Leaders who listen and then lead have a better chance at successfully navigating and accomplishing their objectives in mission!  If leaders only dictate from their offices that are tucked away from mission we will fail because administration can only meet mission when it has its ear to the ground and a heart to serve in the capacity of servant-leader.    Enough with the old guard of “my way or the highway” brass!  Yes be strict on mission-mindedness but compassionate on leading and shepherding!  Be a shepherd first and listen!

2.  Boots on the ground – Pray for and love your leaders, trust them and then engage in the spiritual warfare while befriending the lost!  

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There’s no time to jostle about and deciding which leader you will follow or trust.  There is too much at stake, too much to lose in forward progress as an army!  If we spend too much time worrying about the internal workings of our army, we will lose sight of those we are entrusted to serve and love!  Bring the mission of the lost into focus – make it your priority to keep this mission going!  Be the gate keepers of Hell so that no one slips by you and into that place of ultimate depravity!  Stand as the bridge builder who brings hope to your community!  Worry less about what others (even leadership) might think and more about what God might think with our inactions!  Get on with it!!  Fight on and be the voice for those without one.  The very progression of our army depends upon the movement of these vital infantry boots!  You will stand knee deep in the muck and mire of people’s sin and sadness.  You will witness the hopeless single mother who is struggling to put food on the table, or the children who come to your program that you know are currently living in awful places and conditions.  You must take action!

Love those who lead you.  Trust that God has placed them there to help you accomplish this mission together!  Pray for each other and for those who will come knocking on your door in search of help!  We cannot progress the good news of Jesus Christ and bring hope to a dying world if we are not first Holy people who are taking up our crosses and following Him!  We cannot look like the world and act like the world.  We are set apart to do mighty things, we cannot lack anything especially faith that God will pave this path for us!

3.  Look outside “The Bubble”!  

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Lastly, do not get bogged down in your own bubble that you become ignorant of how God might be working in our world!  Be in-tune with Him!  Do not live in your corps buildings and your Divisional or territorial offices and forget to peer out the windows and walk the streets!  God is not static and He does not want us to become static!  Look beyond what we have already accomplished!  Don’t just maintain and do the same things over and over again especially if these things (or programs) are not bringing people to Christ any longer! Explore, study, become students of knowledge and strategy!  Read!!  There is this notion that any organization and mission can become so internal that it’s almost incestuous in developing its methods of mission, evangelism and mission.  Break this mold!  Take risks, and don’t be afraid to fail – even a hundred times (or more)!   We cannot live in our Army bubbles and expect people to come to us!  We have to go to them!  We have to think outside the box (or corps).  We have to stop living in the past or the glory days all the while missing countless opportunities to make history and break new ground!  If we expect revival we have to make revolution happen in our army!

pop I think sometimes what keeps us in our bubbles is the fear of what leadership might do if we try new things that don’t necessarily “look Army”.  Is there fear of reprisal and punishment for not maintaining the status quo?  Perhaps it’s time to pop the bubble!
Perhaps it’s time to refocus and realign our motives and mindsets on the mission of this world-wide movement!  But we cannot do that unless we become risk-takers and break the bubble comfort and tradition.
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Something more for this Army to Ponder…now, tell us what YOU think by leaving comments and questions below or in your discussion feed!  I can’t wait to hear from you!

*Disclaimer:  The thoughts and opinions written on Pastorsponderings are not necessarily the thoughts and expressed opinions of The Salvation Army, reader discretion is advised!*

Parent Review: Disney’s Circle

What is it?
This little cube is a filtering device for your home that allows you to protect your family from inappropriate sites and content on the internet.  circle

A couple years ago, I looked around, as my children were growing older, and noticed that there was very little by way of family filters for the whole house available to the public.  I even asked a tech friend of mine for some help, and the ways to tweak my router (which is provided by the company we use for internet) were very complicated and truly beyond my “networking” skills…trust me, I tried.

Then I saw this new device that began as a kickstarter and eventually was picked up by the Disney corporation – A.K.A – Disney Circle.

We’ve had our Circle for about a month and I would like to do a review on it for you.

Ease Of Use: 
This device sells for $99, and we bought ours at Target, but I believe most major retailers will have this device for sale.  Basically we took this sleek looking box home, opened it and once we plugged it in, it was a easy to set up.  Have your internet router’s password available, walk through the app (which you install on your mobile device or cell phone) and once it connects the real magic and ease of mind can begin.

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The app is easy to navigate and you can add then add your entire family to the “Circle”.  Once you add your family, you can then assign specific devices (which are visible to the network) to each person.  So, for example if your son has a google tablet, it will show up within the local devices and you can assign that tablet to your son on the circle.

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The Filtering Software:
If you are worried what your children might watch on Youtube or even apps on their Apple or Android devices, here is some ease of mind.  You can assign the filter level of each child based upon their age.  All of the apps available on an app store can be filtered because this Disney Circle interfaces with the home router.  Even if your child is on their Xbox or Playstation console, it must still get its information from your home router, and Disney Circle will filter out the inappropriate content that you do not want your children to have access to.  I recently let one of my teenage boys use my Ipad, so since the Ipad is assigned to my profile, I adjusted my filter to “Teen”…when I went on my phone to access one of the streaming apps I use to watch tv, I was stopped, and I realized I had been filtered via the Disney Circle – it does really work!  This device, in my opinion, is totally worth the $99 I paid for it!

This device gives parents peace of mind when their children use the internet and/or various electronic devices throughout their homes.  No longer is finding a family friendly, easy to use filter a hard thing to do – I completely recommend this device for your home!

Other Perks to Disney Circle:
1) You can set a bed time for each profile/person in your home.  When the clock strikes that hour, the internet turns off for those assigned devices to that profile/child.
2) Does your child spend too much time on devices?  Then set time limits!  Once the time limit has been met, the internet will also turn off.
3) Pause the Internet in the entire house by hitting the “Pause” button on your device loaded with the Disney Circle App.
4) There is no work around, once the Disney Circle has been paired to your home router!
One of my kids tried to unplug the Circle and just use the router, and it wouldn’t work.
5) “Insights” – You can view all of the content your child views by using your Circle app.  You are the House Admin (and your spouse can be as well).  View the time your children spend on specific apps or site.  Learn what they enjoy doing, also start to see just how much time they spend in a day on these devices.

One word of caution, and this should be obvious, but here goes:
Do not load the Disney App onto devices your children will be using, this is the only “Work around” to the filtering software.  The one(s) who has the app loaded can control what is fed to all the devices.  So parents, you load the App, and you will ensure you children are protected in your home from unwanted, inappropriate content.

Should you buy Disney Circle? 
That’s entirely up to you, but we love ours and as our kids are getting older, it gives us peace of mind that they will not be subjected to pornography or other harmful content because of this little device and what it does.

I am giving Disney Circle thumbstwo thumbs WAY up!!!

For further review check out these youtube reviews/videos:
The Official Website:  Disney Circle
Disney’s Cirlce
Disney Circle Unboxing and Review

“NOT WORTHLESS!!” 3 Ways to Discovering Your Self-Worth (Pt. 1)

Self-worth:  Many people struggle with this issue in life.
Some people decide that they truly are worthless and in that moment they become full of self-loathing.
At the very least it is counterproductive, at its worst it is a pathway to self-destruction.

Questions:
How do we live this life and feel complete…satisfied?
How can we retain a measure of self-worth when we encounter discouragement?
Are we worth anything?
Do I matter?

These are very common questions that are thrown around.
Sometimes circumstances in life lead people to question their identities and self-worth.
Others grew up being told they were accidents, freaks, or simply that they were “good for nothing”.
NEWS FLASH: These are lies still being told today to people all around the world.

You may feel as if you are all alone in this.
You may feel as though you are truly worthless and if you were to simply “disappear” no one would care.
Please know that this IS A LIE that many tell themselves.

I do not want to delve too deeply into the realms of depression today, but I do want to say that these depths can be extremely dark and lonely and that it is perfectly normal to seek out professional help in the form of counseling!

let me further illustrate the lies that we buy into sometimes in our lives before I include just 3 ways to discovering self-worth again:

3 Lies About Self -Worth

workLie #1: Your self-worth is all about where you work and what you “DO”.
Perhaps if you had a better paying job you could afford nicer things and a nice home…
people always seem to associate self-worth exclusively with where they work and how much money they make.  Perhaps having more money might solve some issues in life, but when people place all of their identities into what they do they can discover that at the end of the day they still feel empty and unfulfilled.

NEWS FLASH: What you “DO” shouldn’t be who you are!
What I mean by that is this:  The Apostle Paul earned a living as a tent maker while serving as a missionary.  Tent maker wasn’t who he was, it was a means of supporting his purpose and calling in life.  Jobs may come and go, and often times we place so much power upon what we do that in the process we lose the “who we are”.  Our identity in self-worth is so much more than our place of employment.  Beyond this, if you are a person of faith and a Christ-follower, our self-worth is inexplicably tied to WHOSE we are and from that the calling He has placed upon our lives…but I will get to that later.

Lie #2: Your self-worth is all about how others see you – the “people-pleaser” people
We ought to make a distinction here, there is a big difference between accountability with peers and mentors and the need to constantly seek the approval of others.  Our self-worth should not be inexplicably linked to pleasing people.  When we connect our happiness with making everyone around us happy, we crash and burn.  Being a perpetual people pleaser might provide us some satisfaction and happiness at the onset, but eventually the shine wears off and we will find ourselves constantly running for that applause and approval while at the same time never reaching any personal goals or achievements.

This is where self-care comes in.  You cannot help others and be a source to others if you have nothing left in the “tank“.  There must be times when you step away and seek out selfishly (in a good way) those things that will restore your energies and confidence in yourself.  Jesus got away from His disciples from time to time.  He prayed to the Father.  I’m sure He reflected too.  I’m sure He also replenished His “tank” while in the process.  Don’t tie your self-worth exclusively up in the applause and approval of others.   Living as a people pleaser is an empty life and will only serve to wear you out both mentally and physically.   This “People Pleaser” mentality is a lie that will leave you feeling worthless and spent in an endless pursuit of utter insanity.

fakeLie #3: Your self-worth is all about being happy all of the time!
This last lie (and I know there are many more) attempts to force us to entertain the erroneous notion that all is not well if we are not happy all of the time.  If everything is not candy canes and lollipops something must be wrong.  In the Church this lie is sometimes perpetuated by people who think all Christians ought to be smiling and cheerful all of the time.  We even sing songs about being happy all the time.  The truth is we cannot be perpetually happy every moment of every day…and THAT’S OKAY!   Self-worth shouldn’t be about “am I happy all the time?”  Happiness is much different that being content.  Contentment doesn’t mean that you are constantly cheery and everyone thinks you shine like the sun.  Contentment means there is a peace within us.  It means that we have found a “sweet spot” in life and we live within that sweet spot.  It doesn’t mean there won’t be bad days.  It doesn’t mean that we won’t experience sadness either.  Being content is vital – being happy all of the time is not…it’s a lie.

Understandably we ought not look like the character Eeyore eithereeyoresad, where we’re just mopey and down every moment and we tend to bring other people down…But self worth is more than just experience happiness and smiling so much our jaws ache.

So-WhatSo where does our self-worth come from?
How can we recognize the lies being told about self-worth while striving for a genuine self-fulfilled life?
I am happy you asked.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s edition as we jump into the 3 ways that we discover this important characteristic in all of us.

Until then ponder these words:
It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him.
-Abraham Lincoln.
-See you tomorrow!

3 Warning Signs – When Leaders Are Out of Touch with Reality.

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It happens from time to time in every organization.
Perhaps those appointed, elected, or assigned to the responsibilities of leadership forget what it was like to be led.  Perhaps along the way of corporate or organizational “ladder climbing” they lost touch with true tangibles which are grounded in reality.  It can be true even within the Christian world that power corrupts absolutely.  

What are the warning signs as leaders that we ought to be aware of?  What kinds of tools can we utilize in our leadership models in order to stay relevant and lead with passion and vision so that others will follow?  I think it begs to be said but authoritative leadership cannot be respected or maintain just by brute force.  The result of leading in such a way is a leadership of fear and not respect.  Good leaders strive to make additional leaders along the way, not subjugation and “my way or the highway” philosophies.

3 Warning Signs – tools to help leaders stay in touch with reality:
1.  Cultivate a spirit of authentic humility:

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When the veneer and “polished” shine wears off of new leaders it is important to live within a spirit of authentic humility.  Those with whom you are leading need to know you are human and that you do not place yourself above their needs.  Humility within good leadership is usually developed not born.  It is much easier to lord over followers barking out orders and playing favorites.  It is easy to become a bad leader.  It is much harder to be a good leader.  Good leadership takes work and deep consideration of the needs of their followers.  Becoming humble despite the potential privileges that leadership can offer speaks volumes to those being led.  When we adopt a true spirit of humility within leadership, the paradigm of “top down” organizational structure is turned on its head…and this is a good thing!     

Humility in leadership has the ability win advocates not just “followers”.  What I mean by that is this – some followers will just follow out of obligation, but to cultivate productivity, respect and genuine leadership one must gain advocates within those you lead.  Being humble while leading is absolutely one way to cultivate these kinds of relationships within your organizational base.  

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2.  Listen to opposing arguments & perspectives

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Good leaders aren’t afraid of criticism, in fact they willingly engage in productive ideas sharing.   This doesn’t mean that the vision or mission of the organization should be sidetracked by opposing views but rather a good leader will listen to alternative methods to accomplishing the same mission and vision.  All too often I think insecure leaders are unwilling to be challenged because they lack the confidence in their own leadership abilities.  They see opposing or alternative views as threatening, even insubordination, when in fact others (even followers) are striving to accomplish the same goals and objectives.  Suddenly, instead of listening to other people’s opinions and ideas, the insecure leader will shoot them down and reprimand because they feel their leadership abilities are in question.  Lack of true listening as a leader is a warning sign for poor leadership and a polarized organizational vision.  

A good leader desires to actively listen to those they lead and seeks to consistently improve the mission through innovation and ideas sharing.  When a company or organization values the thoughts and ideas of others within the team, the mission can advance faster and more efficiently.  Great leaders are willing to fight for the ideas and thoughts of those who are subordinate yet passionate about mission.  Listening, really listening is crucial to great leaders.  Without such an ability, common leaders (which far out number great leaders) will ignore, plod on, and become out of touch with reality.  

3. Invest in People not the Product (or Mission): 

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Equipping, discipling, and developing future leaders must be a valued focus of great leaders.  Yes the mission or product is important to the success of whatever organization but without the people doing the hard labor behind the mission or product the organization will eventually fail.  All too often the mission (or product) gets placed above the people.  Suddenly people are not treated like people but rather just another number or warm body to facilitate the desired outcomes.  When this happens the company or organization can become a cold place to work.  Those who work there might be begin to feel unimportant, morale might be low, vision can be misplaced for simply “survival”, and the passion for the mission might evaporate entirely.  

In the vein of this warning sign, leaders might sense something is wrong with the organization or company, but because of their disconnectedness to the reality of those they serve in leadership, they may conclude that the remedy is another program or ‘relabeled’ slogan.  Without the aforementioned characteristics of great leaders, (Authentic Humility and Active Listening) the common leader will strive to improve the company or organization through more program and success driven ideas without the inclusion of its followers.  When this happens the common leader has decided that they will invest in the product or mission over the people.  All too often, through this impersonal leadership method, common leaders will sacrifice the few (or the many) for the sake of marginal product/mission success.   

These are the warning signs of leaders who are out of touch with reality.  The reason I write this today is to help us decide what kind of leader that WE want to be both in life and in our places of employment.  These are very common threats to any organization or company, and without corrective steps and measures, attrition rates within the organization or company will increase.  Coupled with that loss, the mission and vision will become harder and harder to accomplish and the investment in people instead of product (programs and mission) will be abandoned.  

I, for one do not want to become disconnected and out of touch…do you?  

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-Just something else to ponder today…be the kind of leader that you aspire others to be!!!

 

The Salvation Army – Are we enabling through Social Programs?

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This is an open question that begs your response. 
Don’t kill the messenger here, It’s something that I’ve not only seen, I have heard said as well.
Are we working to address underlying needs of those we love and serve or are we just addressing the basic needs of “the moment”?  
All too often it is far easier to “meet human needs in His name without discrimination” right now based on what they need…but it’s much harder to ask the difficult questions, to pry back the hurt in order to discover underlying causalities.  

NOT A STEREOTYPE
I recognize that not every Salvation Army does take the “easy” route in services.   Some take great pains to work with those in need and to help discover and address the real issues.  I am certainly no unopposed to handing out a food box or securing temporary housing for a displaced family but without addressing the real causes are we slowly hurting those we serve more than helping?

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 Enabling is okay for time, but providing solutions, real tangible answers to their problems…isn’t that what Booth was all about?  If you have a problem with drink – stop drinking.  If you need a safe environment to work – here’s a job.  General Booth said to his son Bramwell “do something!”  

WHAT ARE WE DOING?

Perhaps the question shouldn’t be “what are we doing” but rather “what can we do better?”  
How can we get to the bottom of life issues, help to heal – feed both the body and the soul and help a person back onto their feet? 
I understand some may never get back on their feet…some may have experienced the worst kind of life imaginable and they will need our support for the rest of their lives…but not all are like this.  Can we help them and then send them to become helpers as well?  Can we break from the “status quo” and become revolutionary again?  

This revolution may look very different in other countries, but what about your country?  What is YOUR Army doing to pick people back up, to help heal the hurting, to mend the shattered?  Can we avoid enabling within our social programs?  We must recognize that we are called to so much more than just social programs…but spiritual hope and salvation as well first.  

I would like to hear your thoughts on this. 
What is being done? 
What can we do differently? 
Are we impacting the world as we once did?  
Do we risk enabling souls instead of healing souls through the power of the Holy Spirit?  

-Something for our Army to ponder today.

May we ever be daring to continue to “go for souls and go for the worst!” 
 

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