by Paul Seiler, Major –
Philippians 1:6 has encouraging words for those of us working on the specific priority of “Identify, train and develop leaders.” The scripture says “I am confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.”
That tells me that change is expected, positive, and part of the process of growth toward completion—that very few of us are complete until the final days. So, I press on again with a theme of change, a theme of challenging ourselves to continually look at opportunities to allow God to work in us.
Major Terry Camsey once said, “If we open the door, will the canary know how to fly? If we took off all the red tape, could we be innovative?” That requires a response. There are many days when I’m not sure we—the corporate we, made up of all the individuals—would know how to fly.
Recently at THQ officers’ councils, the still-dynamic General John Gowans (Ret.) talked about the question asked of the Booths: “To what do you attribute the Army’s success?” He said that Catherine’s quick response was “I trace the success of the Army to the principle it has embraced of adaptation.” Students of Army history will know that adaptation and taking advantage of opportunities were two hallmarks of the Army even into the 1950s in this country. In General Gowan’s paraphrase, he said that he felt this described pragmatism, the attitude that “What works we’ll do, what doesn’t we’ll change.”
We need to be able to fully understand the definition of “working” and the variables involved, but when we see/hear/know that something doesn’t work, we need to be able to change.
William and Bramwell’s response to that same question was that they attributed the Army’s success to the teaching of scriptural holiness. Interesting that husband and wife each identified the other’s strength as the reason for the Army’s success! That’s a team built on respect. Of course, Gowans challenged us all by asking when we had last preached on holiness. The Philippians verse is about holiness as well, that path of becoming like Jesus. Could I say that change, with prayerful intention to improve, is actually a holiness responsibility? If it works personally, why not corporately in our church and Army?
There are some areas under study in the personnel section that are opportunities to evaluate what is working and what isn’t…and you may be seeing some changes already. Some relate to wrestling with Army “distinctives”—the stuff we think only belongs to us, but I suspect many of these issues affect other denominations as well.
Examples? Longer appointments in contrast with need and pattern of higher mobility in society. Lifetime calling in contrast with short-term service. Husband/wife couple as officers in contrast with one spouse called. Motivation by the grace of God in contrast with compensation system. Upward mobility in contrast with more fluid movement from staff to field (our TC’s desire). Team ministry in contrast with commander thinking.
Be assured that my motivation is not change for the sake of shuffling the chairs…but to wrestle with the stewardship of this wonderful movement of committed Christian men and women who are laity or paid or officers or friends…knowing that in it all, it is God who continues to work in us to bring us to completion.