Friday, December 7, 2012


Living by the River   Part One

Rudolph Giuliani, famously Mayor of New York throughout the aftermath of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, writes in his autobiography Leadership: ‘As I was preparing for the debates, I was nervous, unsure if I knew everything I needed. Whenever I prepare, I kept house of books and position papers hereby, determined to have the answer to every question at hand.’

Giuliani’s media adviser was disgusted. ‘Throw those books away. You already know more than you need to be a candidate, probably more than you need as mayor. Just get up on your feet, use the knowledge you already have, and you will do a lot better.’

Comments Giuliani: ‘As usual, he was right. He also taught me to communicate directly and with emotional honesty. When we shot our first few television commercials I’d read them, as most candidates do.  He told me, “Forget it. Just take your glasses off and start talking, and we’ll get it right. If you feel angry, communicate it. Sad, communicate it. Mopey, communicate it. Let people know that you’re a human being and the rest will take care of itself.”

Dr. Paul Sangster, in his biography of his father, the renowned Rev. Dr. W. E. R. Sangster, includes an excerpt from his father’s journal of January 1954.

‘I began work on a new method of meditation... It has been coming ever clearer to me that what we are is so infinitely more important than what we do; that what we do at its best is only a reflex of what we are; that the big business of life is not to crowd more and more into our days… but to be in our small way an incarnation of our Lord. No day is a failure in which Jesus has really indwelt in us; no day is a success… in which his reflection in us has been badly blurred. The aim, then, is to so order one’s thinking…  that all my life becomes a reflection of his.’

Giuliani and Sangster, leaders of repute, strike at the core of what is essential - to be rather than to do.

If The Salvation Army is serious about getting back to basics then I can think of no finer starting point than to look at what we are as individuals long before we look at what we do (the latter will, of course, emerge as the fruit of the former).

We in the Army have tended, sometimes, to veer more towards doing then being. Dare I suggest that, generally speaking, we have even adopted a tendency to sneer just a little at those whose salvation is being worked out in, shall we say, less robust ways than ours?

Have these tendencies, I wonder, caused us to adopt the mindset whereby, sometimes, we barely stop to think, never mind pray or read very much, because we have become the ‘Marthas’ of the Church Universal. Let’s be honest, we have sometimes even secretly prided ourselves on that fact, inwardly claiming the moral high ground over the ‘Marys’.

No one can deny that the good works of The Salvation Army repeatedly meet with worldwide acclaim, and justifiably so. There's no doubt that God has raised up on Army that represents ‘Christianity with the sleeves rolled up’. I have no qualms about that because faith without works is dead.

But what about a ‘deeper’ Army? I'm proud of how committed we have been, and remain, and how much we have accomplished and changed and innovated, and how many we have helped in any number of ways.

But it might be costing us dear in terms of depth - a depth essential to our ministry.

To be continued

Stephen Poxon
Former SA officer


Anonymous said...

I'm but one of many, I'm sure, who has missed Stephen's weekly column in the Salvationist.

Hope and pray that he will find this communication voice/outlet such that he contributes regularly and builds a solid group of interested visitors. The FSAOF blog provides the opportunity to reach far beyond the SA's readership.

Thank you Stephen and I pray God blesses you and your gift abundantly.

Former Officer
Canada & Bermuda

Anonymous said...

…but Christians must ever remember that the way of Christ and the way of the world are opposed to each other. The center of one is ego while the center of the other is Christ. Two persons may do things alike, but the basic motivation must be different. Basic loyalty will ultimately lead clearly to a life conformed to one image or the other. We need to recognize the opposition when we agree to follow Christ. There is a price to be paid, and those who take their hand from the plow and turn back are not worthy of the kingdom of Christ. Dennis F. Kinlaw

USA East

Anonymous said...

Thank you Stephen - I look forward to reading part two; on target so far!

SA officer Norway