Maximizing the Army
by Terry Camsey, Major –
Little Max is nine months old now. You’ll forgive me (as a Grandpa) for saying that he is beautiful. He is both beautiful and a blessing. And he will be our hope for keeping the family line alive when his grandparents and parents pass away.
In many ways he is like each of his parents (and his grandparents, for that matter). He has one head, one torso, two arms and two legs.
If you look closer, you can see that his head has two ears, a nose and a mouth (he also has a wonderful head of black hair, just like his dad!). His arms each have a shoulder, an elbow, a wrist, and a hand. His legs each have a thigh, a knee and a foot.
Look even closer and you can see his nose has two nostrils and his mouth has a tongue. His hands each have four fingers and a thumb…and his feet each have five toes. But wait—if you look even closer, you’ll see he has finger and toe nails—beautifully formed and perfect.
When he smiles you can see in that smile both his mom and his dad. He has his mom’s lips and eyelashes. He even is showing us that he reflects aspects of his parents’ personalities.
Little Max is truly remarkably like his parents—but even more like they were when they were his age. We dug out some old photos of his mom at a young age, and you’d swear they were two peas out of the same pod. In a way they are!
He carries the family name, has the family features, and is a rapidly developing miniature reflection of his parents. But, he can’t talk or write as well as they can…yet. He will. He hasn’t the strength that they have. He will. He doesn’t even earn a living yet. He will. He is, in fact, totally dependent on his parents for support, love, nurture, training, and help with physical needs. God willing, he will grow up into a capable, successful, contributing member of society.
It would be absurd if, when Max was born, his parents had said, “He may have potential and be developing at a faster rate than we are now, and he may in many ways resemble us but…because he is not exactly as we are now, we don’t want him!”
Yet I have had this sentiment expressed for so many years as I have focused on the healthy growth and development of the Army’s corps ministry. It is usually put this way: “Well, that new corps/outpost/ministry may be growing…it may look successful…but it’s not real Army!”—meaning that, because it does not look exactly like my corps, and do exactly as we do, it’s not an authentic expression of The Salvation Army. (There is also—though not intended —an implication that if it were “real Army” (like us), it wouldn’t be growing!
Such critics would rather “kill the baby” than love and nurture it until it grows up into a healthy adult. They have forgotten that their corps, too, was once a baby and may still, in some senses, be immature, even if decades old! They have forgotten that they have survived only because of loving capable “parents” or through the goodwill and sustaining support of a gracious benefactor.
Ridiculous isn’t it—the very notion of expecting every new “birth” to be an identical clone of corps that may have survived for over a century.
If we want to see the Army performing to its “max” potential, it will only happen as its elderly constituents are able to relate, recognize and respond appropriately to each emerging generation.