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There’s no question that General and Founder of The Salvation Army William Booth was a man on a mission.  He and His wife Catherine Booth were pivotal in starting something powerful within the World, yet I have to wonder if there was ever a trade-off with his passion.  We know some of the famous speeches like the “I’ll fight to the very end” speech and the phrase “do something” in speaking to Bramwell about a homeless situation.  There is no doubt both William and Catherine Booth were visionaries and innovators within a mission that ignited the foundation of this Army.  They are both revered and loved…

But…

There is a danger of being a visionary.
There can be a trade-off and sacrifices can be made along the way of blazing a trail. 
Without a doubt we know Booth to be a great General, albeit our first general, but was he a good father as well?   From most historical accounts one might draw a startling contrast from founder to father.   

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Truth: 
If Ballington Booth had not resigned within the Army the Volunteers of America would not have been founded, but why did Ballington leave the army?  He and his father did not see eye to eye.  Sure disagreements happen in families, but basically William Booth labeled his own family member a deserter to the cause.  In essence Booth excommunicated his own kin.  I certainly don’t think this is “father of the year” material.  However, in the heat of the moment, I can see regrettable comments being said and the damage being done.  

Still…
Family is our first ministry, our first priority.  I am not blaming our founder, but I do see warning signs of overworking oneself and sacrificing family for the sake of a cause.  Two things can take place when we overwork ourselves – 

1) Loss of perspective.

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Have you ever worked on a project so hard that you just had to step back from it to gain better perspective?  It seems to me that everyone of us can be guilty of tunnel vision from time to time because we are so success/vision focused.  If Jesus had to get away and be alone with the Father, so too must we.  We need to have a clear perspective, but if we overwork ourselves we will sacrifice something in the process.  It is like staring at the bark of a massive tree, but we wouldn’t know how great a tree it is until we took a few steps back so that our vision could refocus and we gain a broader outlook.  

2) Misalignment of Priorities

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Secondly, we can lose the true order of priorities when we overwork ourselves.  Suddenly the mission becomes the only thing that is important, and we begin to lose the support cast (and family) around us.  God first, family and then our mission…if we discombobulate these we run the risk of losing everything.  

These are just two lessons that I see when I consider The Salvation Army’s founder William Booth.  Yes he was a great man.  Yes his wife Catherine was the true driving force.  Yes an Army grew and lives were changed…but could family matters have been handled better in the process?   Is there something for us to learn from this as well?  Perhaps for starters stop placing Booth on some sort of deified platform.  He was, after all, still a man with imperfections like the rest of us.  I’m not saying don’t admire what he and Catherine accomplished, but be careful how much you revere the man.  Secondly, yes hard work does pay off, but be careful not to sacrifice your children and families in the process.  

Live a disciplined life but find rest and grace in the process.  

-Just some random ponderings of The Salvation Army today.  

 

“Perspectives” Day 3 Featuring Philip Davisson (Major) “WWJD”

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“WWJD” 

WWJD—and the missing piece

 

Although the concept of imitating God in our daily lives has been around for centuries in the form of the imitatio dei, “What Would Jesus Do” began as an idea in a book from 1897 by Charles Sheldon called In His Steps.  As a four-letter concept, it experienced a renaissance of sorts at various times throughout the twentieth century, and even now there are untold numbers of ways to sport WWJD with jewelry, buttons, books covers and even movies.

 

I like the idea of thinking through critical actions by posing that question. But I think there is a piece missing in the equation. Imagine for just a moment if Jesus, in the flesh once again and very much present in our twenty-first century world, were here to talk over some of the pressing questions of our time. Of course, this is what we’re supposed to be doing in prayer and meditation when we ask the WWJD question. But this time, Jesus is physically present and can answer out loud, as it were.

 

The missing piece is exposed when we’re forced to realize that much of the silent conversations we’ve been having around the WWJD questions—assuming we ask the question before we commit ourselves to action—have been rather one-sided. That’s because I think we unfortunately project our own way of thinking onto our conversation ‘partner’ and the result is hardly any different than if we came to the question with an answer already in our pockets.

 

To fill in that missing piece, we have to return to imagining Jesus here with us right now, grappling with the same issues we do. In a context and with issues simply not found in Scripture, or in Bible times, so to speak. The principles behind the issues are the same, though, so that’s where he’d start. He wouldn’t respond with a ready answer, perhaps, but Jesus would know where to begin working his way through the issues at hand, sorting through his priority list of principles, and then begin applying them in a way that is both right and just.

 

I think that’s how Jesus would do it. He’d have a process of thinking through it, one focused on identifying what’s at stake, what biblical principles might be involved, and then which of the principles should be given priority if any two or more them are odds. Just about any course of action has some measure of good in it, some reason to argue in favor of doing it, but some actions are better than others, and we ought to realize to make a moral and ethical choice is sometimes choosing between two otherwise good things.

 

The real key here is to read the Bible looking for the principles that Jesus favored, searching for his list of priorities. When faced with two actions that both plausibly have ‘biblical support’ it’s best to look at how Jesus went about deciding what to do. Jesus can become our model in making decisions when we seek to follow his method.

 

So here’s a proposal: instead of asking what Jesus would do, begin by thinking how Jesus would discover what to do. That’s the best education anyway, not just knowing the what, but knowing the how, the process necessary to get the whats and the whys and so on, of any given situation, especially those we haven’t faced before.

 

How would Jesus think…? I like that better than What would Jesus do. But don’t rush out and make any buttons with HWJT on them, okay?

Having the Right Perspective

Perspective matters.  In every aspect of life it matters from which perspective you are peering at any given issue.

Take this sidewalk art for example:

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As one walks up to it from a distance the illusion within this drawn perspective makes it look as though the man is truly standing on a globe.  But what happens when you peer at it from the side?  It looks like this:

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Now the illusion is revealed for what it is.  This globe has been drawn for the viewer to see it head on and not from an angle such as this, but the mystery and trick is quickly broken.

Life can be like this too.  Problems and troubles come our way, but how they effect us is a matter of perspective.  This isn’t some sort of “self-help” thought, but rather a “heart-help” notion.  How we view our worries, our fears and our hurts matters.  It not only matters to our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being; but it matters to God as well.

King David was a man after God’s own heart who knew a thing or two about worries and problems.  He faced death threats, murder attempts; he saw a woman bathing on a roof and plotted to not only seduce her but the murder her husband too.  Some of his problems were of his own making while others were dependent of the whims of a tyrant and foreign entities.  How David faced these trials became a matter of perspective.

Though David wasn’t perfect, he did know where his help came from.  In Psalm 86 he wrote; “Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.  Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you – you are my God.”           So much can be said of these two sentences.  David recognizes how poor and needy he is, and he is in need of saving once again.  He pleads with God to save him, and elicits a powerful reason for his request: “You are my God.”

Problems, fears and worries will be waiting for us in this life like hungry wolves on a hunt, but if we have the right perspective, and declare “You are my God” we too can overcome anything that comes our way!  We may not be delivered from those problems, but we will have One who will journey through it with us…come what may.

What does your perspective look like today?   How is your viewing angle on the problems of life?  Can you boldly declare as David did, I “trust in you – you are my God“?  If you can’t, then perhaps it is time to adjust your vision.  Stand before Him, trust Him, and find that He will always be there for you even in the midst of your worries and fears.

Perhaps it’s time to get some Godly perspective on these earthly troubles.

-Just a thought for today.

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