To those who are called
The spice box
by Sharon Robertson, Lt. Colonel –
It is at this time of the year that many of us think back to our original calling to the service of Christ as officers of The Salvation Army. What a thrill to enter the doors of the College for Officer Training (CFOT) the first time, secure in the assurance that this was God’s will for our future. Even now, nearly 45 years later, I still experience a surge of—of what? Joy? Excitement? Anticipation? It’s almost as though I am about to begin all over again that great adventure—responding to a call so powerful that I will never know fulfillment should I walk away from it. I think, deep down, I almost envy those who are even now experiencing that excitement for the first time—looking forward with nervous anticipation to all that God has in store for them.
Few know the ins and outs of the training experience as do the employees who have worked day after day and year after year at the school. In many ways they see the cadets from a perspective very different from that of the officer staff. For that reason, I asked a former long-time employee what advice she would give to a cadet just entering CFOT. She responded by pointing to the words of St. Paul in Eph. 4:1-7 (NIV):
I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it…
“Sometimes,” she said, “the family-like atmosphere at the school makes the cadets forget that the Christian witness is a full-time job. They forget that a lot of the employees aren’t Christians, so the only examples of the Christ-like life they know are what they see in the cadets and staff of the school. I know the school is ‘home’ for the cadets, and it’s a strain to be on your best behavior all the time, but if you can’t act and talk like a Christian ‘at home,’ how can you expect anyone to be attracted to Christ through you?
“And something else,” she added. “Remind them that all of us at the school are a part of the team. Those of us who are employees are not inferior beings, simply because we are not cadets or officers. Many of us who are Christians are just as dedicated to serving Christ through our own form of Christian ministry, as are they. Even a custodian has a ministry if his life belongs to God—he deserves the respect and support of other Christians.”
Good advice. Paul would agree:
It was he [Christ] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:1-7 NIV).