“Perspectives” Day # 2 Featuring Colonel Dennis Strissel “Opinion8ed #6”

Photo Jan 05, 4 13 24 PMOpinion–8-ed

(A series of eight installments)

Number Six – Mulligans for Ministry

Having been preoccupied with our new appointment (retired), with plenty of time for thought amid the unpacking and putting up pictures, I thought that I might dedicate my final three installments to what I would focus on in my ministry if I had a “do-over”. Maybe a more appropriate term might be a Mulligan for Ministry. Yes, that’s what I would like. What would I do differently if I had the chance? I’m not talking about the mistakes I made, and I have made more than my fair share. Nope. This is more about what I would invest more time and energy in if I had an opportunity for a ministry mulligan.

First would be to pay closer attention to those important influencers in my life. Father, grandfather, teachers, local officers with greater life experience than me with a willingness to share life-wisdom. I can count more than a dozen important influencers/mentors that have taken me under their wing; those who have helped me make many life decisions over the last forty-one years. My regret is a lack of awareness of my need of good mentors early on in the ministry.

Like most, there were some confusing issues and experiences that brought doubt and fear early on in ministry. How much easier it might have been with a mentor guiding me through those events and experiences, reminding me that things will become clearer and brighter as we grow through tough times. There were times when a “Dutch Uncle” approach would have been good with a mentor saying “get on with it” or “get over it”! Mostly, though, I needed someone to challenge me to holy living and growing in grace… No, they needed to demonstrate by example how to do that and insist that I follow their example.

Some of my greatest influencers were local, non-commissioned, officers. To begin to name any of them would be a dis-service, since I’m bound to leave a couple out. I recall returning to a corps I soldiered at before entering the Training College, returning with my “red” epaulettes to hear and see the reaction of the Corps Sergeant Major, (senior lay position of the church). His expression and embrace didn’t disappoint me…in fact, it gave me great encouragement. When feeling alone and almost defeated, I would replay that moment in my head. It helped me keep my focus knowing that I had cheerleaders somewhere.

It wasn’t always the divisional officers that kept my spirit afloat … and we had many good divisional officers. Nope. I loved being near and learning from senior corps officers within the division. Some had never served in a divisional headquarters appointment yet they had great life experience that they were willing to share with “younger” officers. THANK GOD for the likes of older captains, majors and brigadiers and their willingness and faithfulness to share. They are the un-sung Army heroes.

Sharon and I had the privilege to serve for many years outside our territory and home country. We met many wise, talented, and obedient believers, many were soldiers and officers but others were pastors and lay leaders of other churches. You discover quickly once outside your home country that in order to live, not merely survive, you need close and lasting relationships. We are better people and leaders as a result of who we leaned on and learned from. We would have never even survived living on the Island of St. Helena without the mentorship and fellowship of friends from the Catholic, Anglican, Baptist or Seventh Day Adventist Churches.

Who we are today is a composite of all of those who have loved, led and mentored us….still I feel as though I needed a more attentive heart and mind and a learning spirit. If I could have one, I would ask for a mulligan, a do-over, wanting to listen more carefully or ask different questions. I suspect I’m no different than anyone reading this short article. It motivates me now to pay closer attention during the time left in this world and to invest myself in as many young leaders who will allow me their ear. The good news is there is still time for us all. To borrow a phrase from the author of the Revelations… “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2:7NIV).

Dennis Strissel, Colonel

Previous “Opinion8ed” Articles:
Opinion8ed #1
Opinion8ed #2
Opinion8ed #3
Opinion8ed #4
Opinion8ed #5

Perspectives Day 4 – Featuring Dennis Strissel (Colonel) “Opinion8ed”



(A series of eight installments)

Number five – There’s a Welcome HERE!


“Hey, where did all the food go?” yelled my dad, gazing into the empty refrigerator. None of us would fess up to tell him that our friends had been there the night before and pigged-out, emptying the weeks supply of rations.

Have you seen the commercial sponsored by Daisy Sour Cream? If you haven’t I have included the link, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKWb8c1GBiw). The mother in the commercial has to remind young Steve that he is actually not a member of the family but lives next door. Well that is the way that it was at our home. Many of our friends were over so often, I’m sure our parents were concerned that they had forgotten their way back to their own home. Though our parents often complained about the missing groceries and the teens camped out all over the home, they were pleased that our home was one where people felt welcomed to come and stay awhile.

Sharon and I can attest to the same experience, with young people in and out of our home and our weekly grocery bill much larger than we could afford. However, we would comment frequently about how nice it was that our children felt comfortable with inviting their friends over and their friends finding our home as a secondary lodging to their own.

This triggers a memory of our son’s college roommate spending an entire summer in our home while our son, Scott, was away in Moldova on summer service opportunity. Andy was a great house guest and we loved him like a son. We were pleased that he felt comfortable and welcomed in our home.

When visiting another home, it’s pretty easy to pick up on an atmosphere of our surroundings. Intuition often informs and protects us from environments that are not safe or risky when visiting but it can also help you detect places of comfort and safety, making one feel right at home. When you find such a place you don’t mind visiting frequently.

A few weekends ago, men from around the eastern half of Michigan met in conference under the teaching of a wise leader. Our praise band helped out by encouraging the men to lift their voices in praise, adoration and supplication. I don’t know about you but music moves my soul heavenward. Sometimes I am so caught up in the melody and message of the song/chorus that I simply cannot sing the words. God knows those times and His Spirit speaks so clearly to me. One of the choruses/songs has followed me since that weekend retreat. As I close my eyes in sleep and when I wake, this chorus is literally on my lips and is the genesis for this humble opinion article. I notice that the older I get the more I love the traditional hymns of the church but occasionally something new breaks through and blesses me. Here’s the song I cannot get out of my head…and maybe I don’t want it to leave.

“Holy Spirit” Lyrics


by Bryan & Katie Torwalt | from the album Here On Earth

There’s nothing worth more
That will ever come close
Nothing can compare
You’re our Living Hope
Your Presence

I’ve tasted and seen
Of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free
And my shame is undone

Your presence Lord

Holy Spirit You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory God is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence Lord

Your presence Lord

.Let us become more aware of Your presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness

Holy Spirit You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory God is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence Lord

I would encourage you to find the song on your favorite media site and give a long listen to these inspired words and music. However, and this is probably worth noting, that the message of the song penetrates the heart and reminds us that the most conducive dwelling place for the Holy Spirit is one where He is welcome and invited to dwell.

Some worshipers have a routine they may follow when preparing for a time of worship. Here is the way I approach most meeting where we spend time in worship. 1) I like to take in the room, looking for signs that the Savior has priority, (sermon title in the bulletin points me to Jesus and intrigues me, songs are well chosen to work in concert with the chosen theme, perhaps altar furniture features something of the theme of the meeting, etc.). 2) I like to spend some time in silence, focusing on the power of Christ in my life. 3) I search my heart for unconfessed sin that might contaminate my gift of worship to God. 4) I confess my sin through silent prayer and then ask the Holy Spirit to show up in every part of the meeting, being obvious that thought and prayer has come before the planning. 5) Then, in silence, I surrender all over again and welcome the presence of God through His Holy Spirit to have more of me as part of my gift of worship. It is all God-Centered. You know what happens? God never lets me down because my focus is on Him.

Perhaps the next time you find yourself in a time or place of worship you might try a couple of these steps and discover a new sense of His presence. Design your personal steps that direct your attention toward God, focusing totally on him, making his Holy Spirit welcome and just note the difference in that type of worship experience. God will show up!



Perspectives Day 4 Featuring Dennis Strissel (Colonel) “Opinion8ed”





(A series of eight installments)

Number Three – Be Careful Little Feet


By the time you read this opinion column we should be well within the season of Lent and our journey following Christ to the cross, his sacrifice, death and resurrection. For many, following the Lenten season is a wonderful and memorable faith tradition.

I must confess that I was already a responsible adult before becoming aware of this church tradition. The Army I grew up in shied away from symbols of “churchiness”. We were nonconformists, though we had our symbols and a form of liturgy, we just didn’t call it that.

I recall seeing a cartoon one day in some religious magazine with a little boy declaring to his rather religious mother, that for Lent he was willing to make the extreme sacrifice of giving up baths. I thought that fairly creative and used it as my own for many years when asked the question about my own “giving-up” during Lent.

Following that train of thought brought me to the intimate, if not embarrassing dialogue when Jesus wanted to wash Peter’s feet. Do you remember it? Let me refresh your memory…


John 13:6-11


6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”

7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”

8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

10 Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.”  11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”


When I read that I get a little twinge of guilt because I think I understand Peter’s intent and desire. I suspect I might have reacted in a similar manner… perhaps you may identify with Peter too. Peter serves as an example to his fellow and future disciples regarding our daily walk with Jesus.

The strength of translation is the translator’s ability to express the thought and context of the speaker and their words. What we miss in the translation is the correction Jesus gives to Peter through his choice of words. We are fortunate to live in an age when we do not need to be an expert in translation of languages because the experts have already captured the meaning and our software aids us in detecting nuance of terms used. It is in this exchange that we find such an example. Jesus is using the word ‎pous– ‎pou/$ that literally and figuratively mean a foot; that is, a walking around and kicking implement on the end of your leg. When Jesus answers Peter’s request he uses another word, ‎nipto – ni/ptw that means to cleanse hands, feet, and face as one might do before entering the temple for worship. That’s why we hear Jesus telling Peter that he doesn’t need an entire bath. Jesus draws this distinction for a purpose…and what would that be? I’m so glad you asked…

Do you remember this little Sunday school chorus? “Be careful little feet where you go, be careful little feet where you go. There’s a Father up above, looking down in tender love, so be careful little feet where you go.” While the chorus is very elementary, its essence was the message Jesus was attempting to communicate in this exchange.

Jesus was very concerned about the walking around, the living around, and talking around of his followers. He wanted a close and intimate relationship with his followers in the first century as much as he wants a close and intimate relationship with his followers in the twenty-first century. The first step of that intimacy is keeping our feet clean…figuratively. The world in which we live invites the believer to frame the word of God through the eyes and opinions of the current societal trends and norms. The believer whose feet are washed daily frames the world, its opinions, trends and norms through the truth of God’s word. The bathing or washing came through his shed blood, making us clean. The walk, or keeping our feet clean, is symbolism of holy living. Perhaps a different translation of the same verse might be helpful to your understanding:    

John 13:10

10 Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. THE MESSAGE

 And why is it so important to keep our feet clean? It’s related to keeping an intimate relationship with Jesus;”Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” (John 13:8 – NIV). End of story! If our feet are not clean that means our communion with God is nonexistent.

 There is an inherent risk in offering a list of do’s or three easy steps to a kingdom relationship, when we know that it is not about what one does as much as it is about what one is; but you might be asking now, how do I nurture that intimate (keeping my feet clean) relationship with him? Here’s a good starting point.

 1)    A daily acknowledgement that God is God and you are not. I would call that a surrendered life. It is amazing how many get off on the wrong step every day asking God to follow them rather than following God.

2)   A daily setting apart a quiet time where you can hear God speaking to you through his word. You simply cannot sustain a long term relationship without consistent communication. In this case, let God do the talking.

3)   A daily diet of healthy and nutritious input. The believer should be just as concerned about those things that go into the mind as they are about those things that go into the mouth. If we are surrounded by a spiritually unhealthy atmosphere, the chances are good for that to make of feet unclean, infecting and affecting our relationship with our Savior.

 I am certain you could come up with your own list, so why not give it a try. In the meantime, note the way the “clean feet” or (holy living) experience is contrasted with in a figurative manner by Eugene Peterson; “Lives of careless wrongdoing are tumbledown shacks;holy living builds soaring cathedrals” (Prov 14:11 – THE MESSAGE). Is your daily living providing the key to your cathedral?



Dennis L R Strissel



Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.


“Perspectives” Day 4 Featuring Dennis Strissel – Opinion8ed





(A series of eight installments)

Number two – Lessons in Leadership

The shelves of my library are bowing under the weight of books about leadership. I know it’s an exaggeration, but I feel as though I have bought and read every possible piece of printed material that speaks to the study and discipline of leadership. In short … I am a student of leadership, still learning more every day, attempting to do my best as a leader. With that as a backdrop, I would like to humbly offer a few personal opinions relative to the leadership lessons learned over the years of service to our organization.

 Good leaders live as servants, exercising humility


Mark 10:41-45

41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


1)  Good leaders are focused first on others and not on themselves

Seems fundamental, doesn’t it. Unfortunately, too many want-to-be-leaders get this totally backward. I am reading the autobiography of John Dramani Mahama, current President of the West African country of Ghana. He tells about his primary school experience with a bully. The bully, who was ironically named Ezra, which means “helper”, was nothing of the sort, demanding the snacks of all the smaller boys at school. This tenuous relationship with this bully actually began as a selfless friendship and evolved in a selfish one. Leadership is not self-serving but self-giving.

2)  Good leaders don’t think less of themselves but think of themselves less

There’s an important distinction between the two. The leader must exhibit enough confidence to convince and attract followers to a goal that they believe is achievable together. The healthier part of that statement summed up in the old Sunday school chorus JOY – Jesus first, yourself last, and others in between.

3)  Good leaders live sacrificially

Boarding the SS Dorchester on a dreary winter day in 1943 were 903 troops and four chaplains, including Moody alumnus Lt. George Fox. World War II was in full swing, and the ship was headed across the icy North Atlantic where German U-boats lurked. At 12:00 on the morning of February 3, a German torpedo ripped into the ship. “She’s going down!” the men cried, scrambling for lifeboats.

A young GI crept up to one of the chaplains. “I’ve lost my life jacket,” he said. “Take this,” the chaplain said, handing the soldier his jacket. Before the ship sank, each chaplain gave his life jacket to another man. The heroic chaplains then linked arms and lifted their voices in prayer as the Dorchester went down. Lt. Fox and his fellow pastors were awarded posthumously the Distinguished Service Cross. (Today in the Word, April 1, 1992).

Good leaders are strategic thinkers and planners    

Acts 6:1-7

6 During this time, as the disciples were increasing in numbers by leaps and bounds, hard feelings developed among the Greek-speaking believers — “Hellenists” — toward the Hebrew-speaking believers because their widows were being discriminated against in the daily food lines. So the Twelve called a meeting of the disciples. They said, “It wouldn’t be right for us to abandon our responsibilities for preaching and teaching the Word of God to help with the care of the poor. So, friends, choose seven men from among you whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense, and we’ll assign them this task. Meanwhile, we’ll stick to our assigned tasks of prayer and speaking God’s Word.”

5 The congregation thought this was a great idea. They went ahead and chose —

Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit,






Nicolas, a convert from Antioch.

6 Then they presented them to the apostles. Praying, the apostles laid on hands and commissioned them for their task.

7 The Word of God prospered. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased dramatically. Not least, a great many priests submitted themselves to the faith.


4)  Good leaders know how to set priorities

You’ve heard the expression, putting first things first? That is all about setting your priorities. There are many things that will compete for your attention but if you allow them to get out of control you will end up accomplishing very little. Start your day by listing, in order of their importance, the responsibilities for the day and you will accomplish much more.

5)  Good leaders cast a vision of a preferable future

“Not even the most perceptive leader can think of and plan for every potential turn of events. Unpleasant surprises, unexpected emergencies, and possibly terminal threats to leadership lurk in the undergrowth along almost every path. But one thing that separates good from great leaders in the extent to which the great leaders are able to foresee the unforeseeable, and therefore are empowered to deal with the unexpected” (Jinkins, Jinkins, 1998, p.49).

6)  Good leaders build a bridge to that preferable future

I often use the terms that have impressed on me the visioning process and its importance. One of my favorite authors is Dr. Robert E. Quinn from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. He uses the term “Build the Bridge as you walk on it.”  He writes in his book Deep Change; “Organizational and personal growth seldom follow a linear plan. This is an important principle to remember. When people recount the history of growth, they often tell it in a linear sequence, suggesting a rationality and control that never really existed. When we have a vision, it does not necessarily mean that we have a plan. We may know where we want to be, but we will seldom know the actual steps we must take to get there. We must trust in ourselves to learn the way, to build the bridge as we walk on it”, (Quinn, 1996, pp83-84).

7)  Good leaders are not preoccupied with the problem but press forward towards a solution

This can be counterintuitive for some people. They become so preoccupied with the problem that moving toward a solution becomes too difficult. The term I use to create a picture of possibility discovery is “opening the door.” When you think of it as opening a door, the exit from one world, (the problem), and the entrance into the next, (the solution), it may be the trigger to forward momentum and attaining a solution.


Good leaders are stewards of their human capital and other resources


Titus 1:5-9

5 I left you in charge in Crete so you could complete what I left half-done. Appoint leaders in every town according to my instructions. As you select them, ask, “Is this man well-thought-of? Are his children believers? Do they respect him and stay out of trouble?” It’s important that a church leader, responsible for the affairs in God’s house, be looked up to — not pushy, not short-tempered, not a drunk, not a bully, not money-hungry. He must welcome people, be helpful, wise, fair, reverent, have a good grip on himself, and have a good grip on the Message, knowing how to use the truth to either spur people on in knowledge or stop them in their tracks if they oppose it.


8)  Good leaders are balanced, fair, not given to exaggeration or exploitation, and exercise the discipline of good judgment

When I think of living a life of balance, fairness, and discipline, I think of the Paul listing the fruit of the Spirit from the King James Version; “Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law”, (Gal 5:23). The New International Version would read like this; “gentleness and self-control”. Self-control is a great way to describe this important characteristic.


It’s way too easy to get life and all it brings out of balance. Once out of balance, it becomes more difficult to achieve balance and, in fact, often we encounter a spiral effect that leads to crisis.


9)  Good leaders invest, equip and encourage those they mentor

 In the study of leadership you’ll find a variety of styles and models depending on who you study or what source you find. The following is a summary: Autocratic (sometimes called authoritative), Participative (or sometimes called democratic), delegative (or sometimes laissez-fair). While, to a certain extent we utilize all of these styles, I would council a different method called transformative.

Transformational leadership is a type of leadership style that can inspire positive changes in those who follow. Transformational leaders are generally energetic, enthusiastic, and passionate. Not only are these leaders concerned and involved in the process; they are also focused on helping every member of the group succeed as well. (http://psychology.about.com/od/leadership/a/transformational.htm).

10) Good leaders surround themselves with smarter people than themselves

The good leader understands his/her weakness, is not threatened by people who excel and have specialized knowledge needed to move an event or an organization forward. What we are attempting to do through the STEPS process is create multi-disciplined teams to bring their expertise to the table to help every corps. This only happens when the leader accepts their weaknesses and compensates with people who have those strengths.

It’s difficult to choose only a few characteristics but, per my opinion, that’s my top ten leadership lessons. I suspect you could come up with your own top-ten, and I encourage you to do so, connecting the lessons to scripture. Who knows, you could become a student of leadership too.

Dennis L. R. Strissel



Jinkins, M., Jinkins, D.B., (1998). The Character of leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Mahama, J.D. (2012) My First Coup Détat; and other true stories from the lost decades of Africa. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Quinn, R.E. (1996). Deep Change; Discovering the Leader Within. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers


Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑