RESPONDING TO THE OFFICERSHIP REPORT
New Frontier asked eleven randomly selected Western officers to respond anonymously to the International Headquarters’ Report of the International Commission on Officership; the officers were given the choice of responding to four of 12 different recommendations. The respondents included single and married officers, male and female; four were majors, four were captains, and three were lieutenants. This issue of New Frontier presents a number of the responses. Due to space limitations, subsequent issues of the paper will present the rest.
We recommend that territories continue to move away from authoritarian models of command and develop consultative models of leadership.
- I agree completely. I have served as an officer for many years; all appointments were made without discussion. Usually, the authoritarian leader making the appointment had only a surface knowledge of who I was, what I could do, and what my interests were. The appointments were sometimes a “poor fit” because Army leaders thought they knew me, but had never discussed the important things of my personal calling and desires. Authoritarian leaders tend to believe their viewpoint is the only correct viewpoint. In recent years I have drawn attention to my needs and desires by objecting to and not accepting an appointment, or by telling them no in other areas. This is not a preferred method, as it leaves both parties disgruntled.
- I often heard at the training college when an officer was justifying squashing a cadet, “Well, we are military in structure, just get used to it.” Having served many years in the real thing–the authoritative military–I can say without doubt that the military doesn’t treat people this way. What’s wrong is not the authoritative structure, just some personal interpretations thereof. It would be refreshing if our officers could rub shoulders with active duty military types to see how they really do accomplish the mission and take care of their people at the same time.
We recommend that membership of planning and decision-making bodies reflect a greater mix of generations.
- For many years, the leadership of the Army has been held by men, and sometimes women, in their late 50s and 60s, up to the time of their retirement. While this means these leaders bring many years of experience to their planning and decision making, it also means their decisions are based on what they remember the Army was, rather than what it actually is in the present day. Membership of planning and decision-making bodies should reflect a greater mix of generations, so what is good and viable of the “old” Army is retained and what is good and viable of the present day and future Army can be incorporated.
- The underlying proposition to this suggestion is that diversity in viewpoint will bring new freshness, vigor and unseen options into the decision-making process, thus providing fuel for better leadership decisions. Seeking to gain freshness in viewpoint, however, is not solely a function of generations, because a “child of the regiment,” who has grown up in and knows only the Army, will be far closer in viewpoint to senior leaders than any first generation Salvationist who grew up elsewhere. One might say, “Fresh blood-fresh viewpoint; old blood-old viewpoint.”
- This carries the potential of several benefits. Dispelling the myth that age equals expertise, officers could be used according to their gifts, education and experience. Officers could experience fluid movement between headquarters and field appointments. And varying generations can speak for themselves, rather than asking a colonel in his or her 60s to think like, and represent, someone in his or her 20s.
We recommend that each married officer be paid a separate and equal allowance.
- Each should be given a separate check because each officer will feel they are being rewarded for their work. At present, women officers are not compensated directly, so they feel they are compulsory volunteers for the Army.
- I have always been content with our allowance system as it is. The check is made out in my husband’s name, but I bank it and pay our bills. Years ago, we decided he would worry about the Army’s money, and I would worry about ours.
- Over the years, the Salvation Army system has become increasingly complicated in its required “paperwork” or “red-tape” that state and federal government regulations, etc, require. Corps officers struggle more than ever to balance their responsibilities as “pastors” and administrators. Why do we (married women) want to make things more difficult for ourselves for the sake of our own pride?
We recommend that territories be allowed to accept and test the concept of open-ended officer service in consultation with IHQ.
- I have strong feelings for and against this. Many qualified Salvationists choose not to serve as officers because they have difficulty with the lifelong commitment they would have to make. They want to serve, but prefer to minister not as officers but soldiers. I saw in a recent survey that about 70 percent of those polled (40-45 year olds) had already changed careers two or three times. This is the trend, and if the Army wants to allow these committed and called Salvationists to answer the call to officership, it needs to do so with flexibility, offering them open-ended service. I also believe that even as God calls one to officership, he may call that same one to another ministry. If officership was “open-ended,” those called out of the Army could do so with dignity.
…as an older officer, I answered God’s call to officership believing it would be for life. Officership has been, for me, a calling, not a career. Perhaps if we offer open-ended officership we lose the distinctness of officership and it becomes just another career to be pursued.
- Officership is not a career; it’s a calling of God. There is great value in a commitment to a lifetime of service. That commitment has been what held me during many times of difficulty and discouragement.
- I believe the Army has been sensitive to God’s calling through the establishment of short-term missions, envoy-ship, employee opportunities and other ministerial designations. I perceive the suggestion of short-term officers as an answer by the world; the world doesn’t like the word “commitment” and especially that of “full-time” or lifetime service. Officers are called away from the world to serve him…we should not dilute the concept of full-time officers for a lifetime of service because the world wants us to.
- I have negative and positive feelings on this issue. Open-ended officership would help eliminate the stigma about ex-officership. It would appeal to younger adults who, as a whole, aren’t attracted to long-term commitment to anything. It would also appeal to older adults who have made short-term commitments to other ventures or are making career changes in mid-life. Yet, officership can’t just be put on and taken off like a change of clothing. It is much like a commitment to marriage: if we allow (encourage?) a short-term commitment for officership, won’t it be that much easier to start making short-term commitments to other things, like marriage, parenting, honesty…God?
- When I signed my officer’s covenant, I relinquished to God the last remaining control I had over my life. A covenant with God is not something that should be broken. My marriage covenant is one that has been sealed for eternity. An officer’s covenant ought to be looked upon in the same fashion. If an individual cannot enter into such a lifelong covenant, other options should be explored.
- I believe open-ended officer service to be very beneficial to the Army and the officer family. Many times, the officer family is “burned out” and cannot function 100 percent, and cannot or will not “step-out” of The Salvation Army in fear of jeopardizing their years of service or in fear of being “looked down upon” because of leaving the Army. If officers are given the option of open-ended service, then they will come back rejuvenized and ready to continue with their work. Officers should be given an option for sabbatical leave. Incentive should be provided to encourage the effectiveness of an active and dedicated officer.
We recommend that territories develop an appointing process which includes consultation with the centers as well as with the officers, within the overall requirements of the mission.
- I am in full agreement. There must be an appointment process to fill vacancies, but the appointee should have a strong say in the process. They are more aware of their situation than anyone else.
- I have long believed the appointing process should include consultation. If appointments are made in consultation, it means administration would indicate to the officer and/or corps why it feels a change is needed. Honesty is paramount here, because if the change is a disciplinary move, the officer and corps should be aware of it.
- Yes! It would be a great benefit to the officer and to the appointment. Often, officers are moved at a time when it would have been better for themselves, their families and the appointment to have left them longer.
- This makes excellent sense, especially relating to appointments of assistant officers. Too many new officers (and some seasoned officers) have had the bad experience of showing up at their appointment unwelcomed by the commanding officer.
- Many corps have a few elite soldiers who carry much weight, even in the midst of high ranking officers. I fear these soldiers would throw that weight around, and demand the officers who pleased their small group. In effect, the mightiest cliques would rule. I have more faith in officers at headquarters than in powerful soldiers in making such determinations.
- Ideally, this would work best when the leadership in each corps is operating within its intended capacity. For a consultation process to merit any validity, the officer should have a leadership team that is in tune with the Holy Spirit’s guidance. When leadership teams are put together to satisfy the regulation, rather than to enhance Kingdom building, consultation could be based on relationships and personal comfort, not God’s leading. Measures should be taken to ensure corps leadership teams are spiritually mature enough to handle such consultation.
We recommend there be a review of the officer rank system, taking into account the preferred options (1) all officers commissioned to and retain the rank of Captain, the only other rank being that of General OR (2) all ranks [except General] based on years of service.
- I agree completely, specifically that all have the rank of captain. The rank system seems to have a divisive effect among officers, distancing them from one another when they should simply be brother and sisters in Christ, working as a team to do God’s work.
- I would choose rank based on years of service….there still needs to be a recognition of tenure, maturity and progress in our officership…Retaining the rank structure retains our tradition and militancy of our evangelical approach to the Gospel.
- I would definitely be more in favor of having ranks based on years of service, rather than everyone being a captain, perhaps because that is what I’m used to. I would very much like to see us pay less attention to rank and the “status” rank gives us. I would also like to see more attention paid to the spiritual condition of the officers. Colonels can have deep spiritual problems just as easily as lieutenants and I feel this is often overlooked or ignored because they are colonels. I do see ranks being completely eliminated in the future–but hope it is after my time.
- If it is verifiable that our ranks “offend or repel those to whom we go in Christ’s name,” then we have no option but to dispose of them… One would be hard pressed to find a church without some sort of ranking system, from deacons, bishops and cardinals to associate pastor and head pastor. Elevation in rank is about the only professional pat on the back most officers ever get.