Swyers targets goals for 2006
Priorities for West shift from finance to program.
by Robert Docter –
Commissioner Philip Swyers, territorial commander, revealed his hopes for the territory throughout the coming year with comments on matters of focus and direction including a shift in priorities for his principal attention from finance to program. He recognizes that this will not be achieved quickly and stated that he needs at least three years to realize some of his goals.
Speaking in general terms, Swyers stated that the primary goal of any officer is to work toward mission achievement and, thus, “make the Army better.” Specifically, he identified some goals for the coming year:
• We need 50 cadets in the next session.
• We need to maintain financial solvency during the coming year.
• We need more capital campaigns because they bring important income and they also bring new friends to the Army.
• We need to put feet to the Kroc Centers now in the planning process.
• We need to expand our global vision through increased cultural diversity within our corps programs.
• We all must be aware of the importance of the vast reach of the Red Shield throughout this world and support its work.”
Swyers emphasized that we need to maintain a clear focus on our vision for the future as we work competently towards the mission. This is accomplished, he said, through problem awareness and analysis. His orientation is very “up-beat,” positive, optimistic.
During the first year of his leadership in the territory, Swyers focused primarily on “getting to know the territory”—its people, its character, its needs, and its economic ability to support continued growth. With visits to each division where he met with relatively small groups of corps officers and lay people he found it strong in many ways, but experiencing some difficult financial problems due to a general economic downturn. This area received his principal attention at the outset. He communicated some clear expectations concerning financial matters to divisional and command leaders. Now, a year later, he believes the territory has experienced an important turn-around. “All divisions are operating as they should financially and have a clean bill of health as it relates to the most recent CPA audit, he stated.” He then added: “I am now going to focus on program issues.”
Recent statistical reports have indicated continued decline in some important measurable program areas. It appears that the means he chooses to remedy program problems is much more related to positive aspects rather than focusing on the negative. It’s clear that the quality of relationships with people is very important to him. “A happy officer is a productive officer,” he said. “People tend to gravitate toward those who obviously communicate happiness in their work and their lives in general.” Swyers, himself, appears to be a “mood elevator” wherever he goes.
“What’s important is to identify opportunities for program growth, to involve small groups of talented people in planning and program development, and to maintain enthusiasm for the mission. Leaders need to be consistent and predictable in their relationships with those working with them. They need to be encouragers, available and transparent,” he said. “Sad cookies tend to be bittersweet. It’s much better to be joyful. It’s contagious.”
Swyers, along with his wife, Commissioner Patricia Swyers, whom he considers a vital partner in his leadership team, identified four ways to build a strong corps program.
“First, get families involved through getting the mothers involved.” Commissioner Pat added thoughts concerning opportunities in building women’s ministries through new Home League programs, caring ministries, and in developing women’s auxiliary programs. “People hunger for fellowship,” she said. “The changing roles of women in society require us to determine the needs of today’s woman and work to meet those needs.” She’s clearly passionate about women’s work and generates the same feelings in others.
”Second,” Swyers said, “we can build the Sunday school by teaching quality relationship skills to lay leaders and presenting a sound program. Third, we can develop vacation Bible schools that include adults through small group interaction; and fourth, let’s work to bring social service clients into the life of the corps.”
Swyers wants to “empower people through the distribution of discretionary funds—my widow’s mite.” He’s excited about some ventures involving youth such as the Boot Camp youth leaders program and the Hawaii Project that involves intensive training for short term ministry. “This program is for people who want to come for a ‘sprint,'” he said. “It’s not a life-time commitment, but one of three things will happen: It will (1) turn into a habit; (2) turn into a lifetime commitment; or (3) turn into a lifetime of service.”