Why do many Salvation Army officers, when they resign, no longer persist in “proclaiming the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”, “to live to win souls and make their salvation the first purpose of (their) life” and “to care for the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the unlovable, and befriend those who have no friends”?
Are officers evangelists, preachers and leaders only because it is their assigned role in the Salvation Army?
It struck me that officers, including myself, typically base our reasoning from a starting point based on what we actually do, not from what God has called us to. The Salvation Army expects me to evangelize whereas God calls me to do so. The Salvation Army expects me to preach: God has called me to do so. Duty and the ‘call’ exist as matching, complementary characteristics. .
Could organisations like The Salvation Army possibly define and present ‘being called’ in a simpler, and more easily acceptable format? Might it even become so much simpler to fathom that officers can function with integrity and do so without the claim of ‘being called’? Indeed, contemporary organisations encourage employees to seek their own direction. "Do what the Bible says" is meant for individuals, not for organisations. What The Salvation Army believes the Bible wants it to do and how the Bible defines what it is to do is determined long ago and can hardly be altered. Officers have to fit in. And officers get trained in the hope that they do just that.
Even in The Salvation Army the call of the organisation transcends the call of God.
I hated selling The War Cry house to house. Mainly because the principal motivation was fundraising. Maybe I wasn't an evangelist at all. And yes, we
pretended as if we were evangelising and yes, we prayed for that single person finding Christ. The Bible doesn't say you have to sell War Cry's does it? But don't you dare utter something like that out loud: sacrilege!
So the magazines kept coming. And I kept selling them.
As an officer you have to evangelise whether you have the gift evangelizing or not. And if you have the gift of evangelising you have to lead anyway whether you like it or not. Well, I don't have any gifts (I always say this
to make my wife angry), but The Salvation Army doesn't offer God the privilege to call officers who uniquely have this gift.
If so all officers have to chose sooner or later in their officership career and service to remain sensitive to God’s direction, which by definition supercedes the appeal of any human or organisation – never mind the outcomes – or acquiesce to the wishes and expectations of the organisation. Officers always have to choose between a personal, God-fearing conflict or to let their dynamic faith cool down and become moulded into a quiet common position.
I’m not grumbling. And for some it doesn’t sound nice. But organisations simply work like this.
We can verify these facts by simply imagine some possibilities. For example, what would Linda Bond do when The Salvation Army would no longer be defining the tasks expected of her. What would she do if she has to listen to God’s explicit direction? Would she be a word leader of some other evangelical mission? I could not say that for sure.
Could you, as I do, call to mind some DC’s and TC’s? In accordance to the mission of The Salvation Army these are godly people and gifted evangelists. What would they do if The Salvation Army suddenly disappeared? Would they again get their soapbox out of the closet, put it in a nearby shopping mall and start winning people over to Jesus? I don’t think so.
How many officer who resigned stand by their promise to soberness and sacrifice and be an evangelist 24-7? The life to which officers report they were called? A few. And they hold on some of these aspects of an officer’s life only because they “accidentally” succeeded to merge into another organisation which again is filling in the expectations of them.
Did God call me to become an officer or did The Army customary practices simply recruit me? After my resignation I continued doing nothing of the things I did as an officer. As an officer I pretended acting like an officer living out the orders God laid out for my life. But when I stopped being an officer I stopped being an evangelist, and a preacher and a leader as well.
No comment on this article will clarify these laws of nature regarding organisation. It seems to be a fact that officers serve mostly an organisation and just fulfil plain instant tasks demanded by the organisation. It seems also to be true that officers romanticize their work in considering it as a post which transcends a profane job. But in reality it’s just that. Without The Army officers aren’t evangelists, preachers nor leaders serving God’s Kingdom. They were all that just serving the Army.
Would that really be all? I’d like to disprove this phenomenon one day with my life.