More than a team  

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By Kenneth G. Hodder, Commissioner –

It is commonplace for corporations to refer to their employees as “the team.” Whether it’s because we want to create a sense that everyone has an important part to play, or we believe that using sports terminology will somehow spark a greater awareness of the competition in which the organization is engaged, referring to those with whom we work as “the team” is now standard fare for any discussion of business principles or philosophy.

This is not wrong, of course. In fact, it’s why all of us use the image of a team from time to time. Any positive linguistic mechanism by which we can motivate those around us to greater effort is to be prized. But I am increasingly conscious of the limitations of that label when it comes to the officers, soldiers, employees and advisory board members of The Salvation Army.

Of course, that is not to say that we are not a team. We like to win. So like any other organization, The Salvation Army creates teams in the form of committees, councils, task forces and boards to advance our work. When the goals we set are achieved, we celebrate and then turn our attention to the next task at hand.

But in the end, we’re more than a team. So much more. Taken as a whole, those who answer God’s call to officership, the dedicated employees who place their skills and abilities at the disposal of the Army, and the volunteers who give untold hours to ring bells, pack food boxes or set strategic directions for the future are not just a group of people trying to win a game. And that’s because the work in which we are engaged is not a competition, but a mission. The Salvation Army may be a human institution, but it is also a divine one, and that changes everything.  

By God’s design, we are builders. One need only look at the third chapter of Nehemiah to see how different groups came together, not simply to rebuild a wall, but to rebuild a nation. All of them (doubters aside!) had a mind to work, and in the end, they did far more than simply put stones back together. With God’s blessing, they succeeded in molding people who were adrift in exile and wallowing in despair into the people of God.

That’s who we are.

By God’s design, we are disciples. We’re all following our Lord, Jesus Christ, because we’re individually astonished by his wisdom, grateful for his love and his mercy, and challenged by his example. And we’re encouraging one another along the way. And in so doing, just as we see in the latter verses of Acts 2, we’re attracting others to join us.

That’s who we are.

By God’s design, we are royalty. Through our acceptance of Christ as Savior and Lord, we have become sons and daughters of the living God. As Paul wrote, “we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” We are, said Peter, “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.” It’s heady stuff, but that’s who we are.

Any by God’s design, we are a body. We have been brought together not through happenstance, but by virtue of a divine plan that, if we are willing, can take what each of us has to offer and use it in unique and untold ways to bring honor and glory to him.     

No sports or business team that I know of can say all that. And it’s precisely why we need to treasure one another, encourage one another, forgive one another and work with one another. Because we don’t work just to meet earthly goals. Rather, we’re being sent out to achieve heavenly ones. And it’s his Spirit that will give us the victory.

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