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    Lifted Up

    Candid letters of encouragement for new lieutenants from a corps sergeant-major, active officer, retired officer and officer's kid. June 28, 2016
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    Dear Lieutenant,


    Congratulations on your commissioning! I am so proud of you for answering God's call to officership. You are about to embark on a challenging, yet rewarding, journey. As a corps sergeant-major and a soldier who has spent many years filling different lay positions in a corps, I want to share some insights that may be helpful as you begin this journey.

    First and foremost, keep your relationship with God the primary focus of your life. Dealing with the day-to-day realities of a corps can be daunting and will challenge your time-management skills. The time you spend studying Scripture, praying and meditating has to be your top priority because everything else in your corps life will suffer if your relationship with God is not maintained.

    Be a person of integrity. Within the Christian community we often encounter people who do not live as they speak. It is so important that your congregation see you live out your ministry in what you do, not just what you say.

    Get to know the people in your congregation. They need to know that you love them and are there to support them through whatever trials they face. Visit them throughout the week so you can connect with them on a personal level. Learn their stories and build relationships.

    Don't be afraid to ask for help. Within your congregation, God is raising up people to take on the leadership roles that are necessary for your corps to promote the gospel. In many cases, you may need to take the first step and approach these people. Speak directly to them—it has been my experience that making open-ended requests for volunteers is not a successful approach to filling the needs of the corps.

    Finally, do not get discouraged. Challenges will come your way and there will be times when you feel overwhelmed. Surround yourself with a team of lay people who will support you, pray with you and be there for you during the difficult days.

    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

    God bless you,

    Rick Hynes, corps sergeant-major, St. John's Temple, N.L.




    Dear Lieutenant,


    You have responded to God's call upon your life and, no doubt, have already experienced tremendous challenges and blessings in the process. It is a privilege to share with you in this manner. Though I may not know you personally, as officers we have a bond of unity that is founded in our covenantal relationship with Jesus Christ. It has been 13 years since I knelt in the training college chapel, signed my officer's covenant and accepted the undertakings of service. I can hardly believe how quickly time has moved along; my wife and I have experienced several appointments, welcomed three children into our family, and experienced more excitement in ministry than we ever could have dreamed possible.

    Salvation Army officership presents a lifestyle of ministry that just works for me. My prayer is that you, too, may discover (if you haven't already) aspects of ministry that inspire passionate perseverance. Personally, I love the fact that an officer of The Salvation Army can never predict the events of the day—one minute driving a truck and picking up donations for the food bank, the next sitting in a government official's office discussing how the Army can help meet needs in the community. These are more often than not followed by opportunities to minister to a family or individual whose life seems to be falling apart. It is a blessing to stand in the gap, linking human need with practical support, offering sincere spiritual and emotional care, or simply providing a listening ear and a strong, red epaulet-wearing shoulder to cry on.

    I'd be presenting an incomplete picture if I didn't also mention the challenges. It is with regret that I admit to a temporary defeat. I submitted to the disillusionment strategies of the enemy. As I type these words, a lump forms in my throat and tears fill my eyes. Two years of my life, and that of my family, were disrupted because I falsely believed that the Lord was finished with my contribution. Specifics and details are no longer important; God has restored what was lost. What I must impress is this: Never forget that your calling has been confirmed, you have been chosen for this specific role, and it will carry you through many experiences, all of which are intended to draw attention to God's faithfulness and direct others to Jesus Christ as the true life-changing authority.

    Please pray for me. I will pray for you, and may God continue to use us all for his glory.

    Sincerely,

    Captain Jamie Locke, corps officer, Fairview Citadel, Halifax




    Dear Lieutenant,


    As I sit at my desk today to draft this letter to you, my heart is full of things I want to say that I hope will be meaningful to you.

    You have probably had your fill of counsel over the last two years—all that's left is getting started now in your ministry. You already know the appointment to which you will go and, dare I say, maybe you've been in contact with those in your new flock or ministry unit. (So different than my day when we received our appointments on the night of commissioning, in front of a huge crowd at Massey Hall, with no opportunity to react!)

    How I wish I could turn a lifetime of ministry into an encouragement jar for you to access in the coming days. When loneliness, conflict, strain, rejection, challenge and joy come—and they will—you could pull out the appropriate slip of paper for encouragement. I may not be able to do that, but you can begin your own jar. In Colossians 1:10, Paul says, “As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work” (The Message). And so I say to you: nourish your spirit. That is the source of your strength for ministry.

    Speaking of strength, remember David. When he was in a desperate situation, Scripture tells us that “David found strength in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6). Not a bad strategy for encouragement! If I were asked what surprised me about being a Salvation Army officer, I would say the wonderful plan for my life that unfolded as I responded to the Lord's leading.

    So, Lieutenant, work hard, seize every opportunity that the Lord provides, be generous, disciplined and loving. Enjoy what you do for God. As Isaiah 41:10 says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

    May the Lord bless you with a fruitful ministry.

    Lt-Colonel Betty Barnum, retired, Toronto




    Dear Lieutenant,


    First, kudos for all the work and dedication that have brought you to this point in your journey to become a Salvation Army officer. I have the utmost respect for the calling God has placed on your life and the passion you have to be obedient to that calling.

    And, hello! My name is Brittany and I have been an officer's kid my entire life. I am deeply grateful for my experience growing up as an “OK.” So, I'd like to take a moment to address all you new OKs out there: Welcome to the squad and congratulations to you as well! This journey is just as much yours as it is your parents'.

    I may not have any grand advice or profound wisdom to pass on to you, but what I do have is my story and the things that I have found impactful on my journey as an OK. I hope this will be encouraging to you as you start yours.

    Growing up as an OK has given me so many opportunities to discover and pursue my passions in life. It has led me to my most treasured friendships and to inspired leaders who have poured into me. I am who I am because of the interactions and opportunities the Army has given my family and me. I am now a children's and youth worker for The Salvation Army and I'm the leader and disciple of Christ that I am today largely because of these experiences.

    My prayer is that you will embrace every challenge, including the countless kettle shifts that are before you, and welcome changes as opportunities. I pray that your family remains strong and filled with the joy of the Lord. Trust fully in God and rest in the peace that he's got this! He's got you! And you have a whole army (literally) of people who are here to support and encourage you along the way. I look forward to where our paths will cross. (Trust me, they will.)

    Deep peace,

    Brittany Slous, children's and youth ministry co-ordinator, Surrey Community Church, B.C.

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