Bell advises, inspires, counsels Visionaries
Lt. Colonel Donald Bell addressed the Visionaries as their commencement speaker and gave them essential information for quality officership.
He spoke of Jesus’ perception of humanity as harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd, as recorded in Matthew 9. He read John Gowans’s poem taken from his musical, Man Mark 2, “There are people hurting in the world out there—they need you, they need me, they need Christ.”
“Visionaries,” he said. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. People are destroying themselves and those around them in their lostness, but workers who can help such people are scarce.
“Jesus offered a succinct solution: ‘Ask the Lord of the Harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’
“We have asked the Lord of the Harvest, and on Sunday you will be sent to your first appointment as officers—as workers in his harvest field.
“Here are some things to remember.
“First, as you leave this protected place each one of you will become uniquely connected to a network of lost people who constitute your calling. You can be blind to the people around you, or you can become workers who are sent by God to those who are lost. If you want to bear fruit, if you want to make a difference in your community it will be because indifference has been replaced by love and concern.
“Second, be citizens of a different place. The ways of God’s kingdom run counter to the ways of our world. God’s kingdom leaves nothing in our lives untouched. It instructs us on the way to think, to go about our ministry, to raise our children, to use our time and money, and even how to relate to our enemies. Officership is a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week responsibility. God’s kingdom closes the gap between our spiritual lives and our material concerns.
“Third, people today need to see the gospel lived out if they are to truly comprehend it. It takes more than words. We cannot hope to accomplish our mission if we are not loving the lost. They need to see our light shining.
“Fourth, be servant leaders. A servant leader puts others ahead of one’s own agenda. It means intentionally being aware of your people’s needs. Serve altruistically, without expecting anything in return. Don’t focus on such matters as rank or position. Instead, serve out of love. The extent of your influence depends on the depth of your concern for others. Go to your first appointment as if it were a lifetime appointment. You will never forget it.
“Fifth, develop your vision. Here are eight critical factors to help you.
(1) Maintain your commitment by continuing to know God’s will for your life and to achieve it. (2) Praise God in all things. That’s why he created us—so we can praise him. (3) Study. Recognize you need to be a workman who does not need to be ashamed—who handles the word of truth correctly. (4) Pray. Model prayer as a source of guidance and seek God’s vision in all things. Remember, if you ask, it will be given to you. (5) Engage in continual self-evaluation. Believe that with your talents and energies you will be able to accomplish the tasks set before you. (6) Use research as a means to help you achieve. Know about your appointment. The more you understand the context of your ministry the better prepared you will be to take advantage of the opportunities that lie within it. (7) Take counsel from senior officers, local officers and corps council members. Seek advice prior to major decisions. Try out your ideas on people you trust. Ask for their prayers on your behalf. And lastly (8) Take action. Once you define your vision for ministry, go after it—make it real. Be prepared for difficulties, even persecution—it’s one of the ways that mark people who make a difference.
“As John Gowans put it:
There are godless people who have lost their way
And they need God’s love but they’re afraid to say
If we close our eyes perhaps they’ll go away
Without you, without me, without Christ.
And they’ll go on hurting in the world out there,
And they’ll go on dying, drowning in despair,
And they’ll go on crying, that’s unless we care!
They need you, they me, they Christ.”