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Listen…learn…lead

by  Lt. Colonel Donald BellAt Commissioner David Edwards’ last address to the members of the Territorial Executive Council he gave some wise advice for each of us in a leadership role, whether that be at territorial, divisional or corps level. The Commissioner shared a principal he put into practice on his arrival in the Western Territory five years ago ­ Listen, Learn and Lead.

What excellent advice for each of us as we embark upon new areas of service and ministry.

My wife and I look forward to listening to the officers, soldiers and friends of The Salvation Army in the vast geographic areas of the Western Territory in the days, months and years to come. We look forward to learning of your experiences and situations and with the Holy Spirit’s direction we will lead the Army into greater avenues of worship, service and fellowship.

Listen: We will listen first to the Lord. Listening to what the Lord wants is not always an easy matter. How many times in corporate worship has the leader asked for a time of silent prayer and within a few moments some offer prayers audibly? We are an impatient people. We have been trained by an instant culture to expect instant results. I have even been heard to say “I want it, and I want it now.” What about you?

We look forward as well to listening to the divisional leaders and officers of this great territory. We are a culturally diverse and growing arm of the Christian Church. We look forward in our travels to listening to what the corps officers are doing and how territorial headquarters can help them in the front line ministry.

We also look forward to hearing the soldiers not only through the newly formed Territorial Vision Action Team (TVAT) but through the Divisional Vision Action Teams (DVAT) and personal interaction as we participate in public meetings throughout the Western Territory. As we come to your area come up and reintroduce yourself. We want to hear what you have to say.

Finally, we will listen to the people–the great masses of people who need to know Christ as savior. As Christians we sometimes isolate ourselves and mingle only with fellow Christians. We want to make it a point to get to know people as they are and by our lifestyle and witness introduce them to Christ.

Learn: There is much to learn about the far-reaching evangelism of this territory. Waldon Scott, writing in Discipleship Journal stated that learning is based on three important attitudes…openness, enthusiasm and application. Over the past 25 years we have visited every division, but much has changed over time. We are open to new ideas and programs and enthusiastic about what lies ahead. By sharing and reporting we can apply successful ideas to new situations. With the Holy Spirit’s guidance and our anticipated visits to your corps, ARC and program we look forward to learning of your ministry and service.

Lead: Becky Brodin in Five Habits Of Highly Effective Leaders, (Discipleship Journal, July/Aug. 1993) indicates that effective leaders tolerate diversity, develop people, make decisions, welcome feedback, and care about people.

We anticipate that by listening and learning we will be able to move ahead under the direction of the Holy Spirit to lead into new paths of service and ministry. The Salvation Army in the United States has been blessed with significant resources. It is our responsibility to use those resources wisely in the advancement of his kingdom in a world that is waiting for answers. May we each live our lives so that others will see Jesus in us.

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