Mentors invest in relationships

by Major Ralph Hood, Jr. –

When I was growing up there were people in my life who influenced me greatly; today we call them “mentors” and we view the process in a much more formal way.

My father, Ralph E. Hood, Sr., was one of the strongest and longest lasting influences. Some people who knew my dad say that I do a lot of things he used to do.

The first corps officer I remember who influenced me, in the short time he was in the Fresno Corps, was Captain Don Davenport. He came at a time when my dad was working out of town and only home on weekends.

During the weekdays, Captain Davenport went out of his way to see that I got picked up from out in the country and taken to the youth activities at the corps. During the summer, he picked me up and took me to play golf with him.

He took me to the Men’s Social Service Center to pick out some good used clubs, clean them up and play with them. During those times together I learned a great deal about being a man. He and his wife left the work from Fresno and it wasn’t until years later that as a corps officer in Santa Rosa, Calif., I had the great privilege to reinstate his soldiership and process the paperwork for him to be an envoy and chaplain for the Lytton Adult Rehabilitation Center. What a joy that was!

The second corps officer was Major Bramwell Glaeser; one of his special projects was “fruitcakes for missionaries.” He got a whole group of young people from the corps to help package, label and ship fruitcakes to missionaries all over the world. This little project gave me a “global vision” of the Army and the Church. At the conclusion of each day we would have a time of prayer for each missionary family to whom we had shipped a fruitcake that day. Later in the year we received letters from some of the missionaries and discovered the very day we were praying for them, they had gone through some kind of crisis and God had worked out the details to get them through. That gave me a deeper understanding of how important it is to pray for our missionaries on a regular basis.

The third corps officer was (then) Captain Kenneth Hodder. He and his wife were in Fresno when I graduated from high school and started college. He encouraged me in my educational progress, and he was the first one to allow me to be a local officer in the corps. He placed more emphasis on vacation Bible school and Sunday school than anyone ever had; I was a teacher in both and really learned some valuable leadership skills from him.

Probably his most important influence was when I was running from God’s call to officership and decided to go into the U.S. Army. He straight forwardly asked, “Are you sure this is what the Lord wants you to do?” I had to respond, “No, I am sure it is not, but I am going anyway.” During the three years I served, he remained in touch with me, and when I stopped running from God’s call, he processed all of the paperwork for my entrance into training.

He is the only one of these corps officers still living and I want to thank him for continuing to stay in touch and having an influence on my life.

A fourth corps officer who had a strong influence on me was Envoy Ray Robinson of the Eureka, Calif., corps. During the summers of my early high school years I worked with my dad in Eureka as a carpenter apprentice and we attended the Eureka Corps. Later in my life I was commissioned as a lieutenant and sent to assist Captain and Mrs. Ray Robinson in Sacramento, Calif. He took me under his wing and taught me a great deal about being a good corps officer. There are more lessons than I can ever begin to tell about in this short piece. A little bit would be that he “trusted me” with the youth programs of the corps and allowed me some room to make some mistakes. That taught me to trust others to do a job—over the years that lesson has resulted in the development of good local officers and other leaders along my path of service.

Why would I share about these people? The most important thing we do in life is “invest in relationships.” The Billy Graham Association says that 83 percent of the people who have been saved at the crusades came because a friend or relative brought them. Invest in relationships to get your friends and family saved. John Maxwell, in his writings on leadership, says the most effective way to develop leaders is on a one-on-one basis.

Invest in relationships to make leaders in all levels of the Army.

The most important position I look at, as the secretary for Personnel, for investing in relationships is that of corps officers. I don’t discount any of the other appointments in our territory and the work the officers are doing in each of them to invest in relationships. However, parents and corps officers are the ones who have the most profound influence on the lives of our young people today and it is their mentoring, investing in relationships, that will bring these young people to a place of leadership within our Army in the days ahead.

I thank God for all who invested in their relationship with me as my mentors.

What investments in relationships will you make for the good of the Kingdom of God and our Army?

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