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On the Corner

Soldier servanthood

by Robert Docter, Editor-In-Chief –

Dear fellow prayer warriors,

You were called and you came. You showed up ready to work. You’re 10 years older than the average age of many sessions before you. We expect maturity. Your life experience is broad, but not necessarily academic. You are beginning a “crash-course” in ministry through The Salvation Army. I hope you know it won’t be easy. There’s a lot to learn. Please don’t assume you know it already. I’m still learning. You can, too.

Here are some essentials:

– Immediately read: Servants Together—Salvationist Perspectives on Ministry (2008) a report by the International Doctrine Council; Called to be God’s People (2008) a report from the International Spiritual Life Commission by Robert Street.

– Remember! You are called to be a servant to God’s people. As a shepherd, leading by example, know that: “Leadership has nothing to do with gaining advantage, leveraging position, accumulating power, building empires or manipulating weak or beholden followers” (Servants Together p.128).

– “You are first and foremost a soldier” (Servants Together, p. 76)—a member of the group. Because of the nature of your calling, you are an officer because you work full-time and are ordained as a minister of Christ.

– Learn how to build community. A corps is a community of worshippers who come together for multiple reasons. Encourage cultural diversity, while maintaining unity. Help it to build and accept an identity beyond that of its name.

– I urge you to grow in every dimension of your life—to stay in shape physically, to expand your knowledge and skills in relation to your ministry, to increase your awareness of your emotions and to relate to them thoughtfully, to recognize that you are in the “relationship” business, and that your own spiritual growth demands a growing relationship with God.

– I urge you to empower others and to grow in courage yourself. You can begin now by changing the assumptions you make about what you can and can’t (say will and won’t) achieve. Think big. Be bold. Press on. Believe.

– Have a firm understanding of the manner in which the Army is unique among churches—the place of its social ministries as acts of mercy, our commitment to Wesleyan holiness, our multiple roles in the life of the community, its use of music to teach aspects of our belief system, its uniform as a means of access into the minds and hearts of others.

– Pay attention to your own family. Model Christian love—establish firm boundaries—discuss responsibilities with them—talk about spiritual matters—avoid negativity—be aware of developmentally appropriate behavior even though you might see it as negative.

– Stay committed. To do this recognize that your response to your call from God demands a measure of exclusivity—other things won’t get in the way; assume that this call will be lengthy, a lifetime. When you are fully committed, you will receive much more than you are able to give.

– Remember your session name—Prayer Warriors. Remember that praying provides us with the opportunity to praise God, to thank God, to listen to God speak to us as well as to petition God to assist us with our concerns.

Blessings to you. You are important to us, each of you and that includes your whole family. Be assured the territory appreciates the challenges this means for you and that our prayers for you will be continual. Thank you for joining a thin blue line spread across the world on behalf of Christ and his ministry for people just like you and for me.

I hope you will occasionally write me and tell me about what you’re learning and how you are growing.

With affection,

bob


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