My first year as an officer
By Maureen Lawliss,Lt.
Many blessings have come my way this first year as an officer—and many challenges. During the short time I’ve been in charge of the Albany (Ore.) Corps, the first and primary thing I have learned is not to rely on myself. This service for the Lord is a partnership with him; he is my authority who has called me to service in The Salvation Army.
I am grateful for the training at Crestmont, which gave me an overall picture of the ministry of The Salvation Army. Throughout training, the more I grew in understanding of the work of an officer, the bigger the job seemed, and sure enough, I was not mistaken. However, one great thing about being an officer is that I can fall back on the fact that God has called me. At times, when I am discouraged, feeling like I am making little progress on my goals and mission, I remember it isn’t about me—it’s the work of God and I’m just his servant whom he called. His calling for me is unique and individual, yet it is for the greater good of his purpose. This privilege keeps my mind focused on the right things.
After several years in business and overseas as a missionary, this current position is the most rewarding and challenging. For years, God placed it on my heart to serve him fulltime. Now he has called me to the people of Albany, and here doors have opened for me to minister in ways I could not before I was an officer. The potential of bringing people to a place of salvation, to a place of safety and assurance, for me has abundant eternal significance.
My heart desires to encourage and help people spiritually, yet it is not what happens daily. However, in seeing the deep needs of people, I learned that often they simply need a caring hand, and I have discovered the importance of a kind word—that small gift of yourself is one of the most important ones we can offer.
One of the challenges here is that our building is in disrepair, and I’ve learned quickly how to run a capital campaign. This often diverted my attention from daily routine needs but it also introduced me to the greater community of Albany. Each day presents new opportunities for service, which makes this work unique and exciting. No matter what I’m doing, whether administrative or pastoral, it is all God’s work. I find that you cannot separate the social work from the corps, for God’s work is in the people, wherever they are. And where the Lord is working, there is where I want to be.
As long as I view my ministry as God’s call, and let him do the transforming of lives through me, this is what is important in my officership. Success comes in many different sizes and shapes, but no matter its form, it is the success of God, not me. I joined the Rotary this year and the first item of its four-way test is “service above self.” As a Salvation Army officer, it is “God and his service above self.” I don’t do this alone—I have an awesome partner who does most of the work!
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33 NLT). As I walk this journey, this verse is critical for me. May God be blessed!