This may sound strange to some, but I always say that my decision to become an officer was a childhood calling. Whenever I was asked what I was going to be when I grew up, I always said, “I am going to be a Salvation Army officer.” Of course, at that age, I had no idea what that entailed but I firmly believe my calling came as a child and my whole life—as a child, teenager and adult—has been a working out and a living out of that calling.
A Life Plan
I grew up in the small community of Monkstown, N.L., the second of four children. My mother was a stay-at-home mom while my dad was a fisherman. We were never a financially rich family but our home never lacked in love. My mother has been a devoted Christian since she was a child and I grew up believing that God would provide—my mother said it many times!
He has always been a part of my life. I don’t remember a time when I was not aware of God and his love for me. I remember the excitement I felt when I invited Jesus into my life as a sevenyear-old and started my own personal relationship with him. This relationship has always been central to my life. I look back on faithful corps officers and corps members with much gratitude for helping shape my life and bringing me to where I am today. They were encouragers and models of how Christians should live, and I learned much.
From my earliest days, I was a part of all corps activities and my relationship with Jesus continued to grow. As such, the decision to become a senior soldier came very naturally, and was not forced on me by my parents or corps officers. I embraced the Soldier’s Covenant, and while I was and still am not perfect, I believed that by God’s grace, I would do my best to live it out.
While I have doubted my own abilities, I have never doubted God’s calling.After grade school, I moved to Arnold’s Cove, N.L., to complete high school. There, I was fortunate to move in with an aunt and uncle who became my second parents for those three years. Devoted Christians and strong Salvationists, they taught me much about faithful Christian living. Again, I encountered people at the corps who were deeply concerned about the young people and encouraged us to embrace ministry and made us feel that we had something to offer.
When I entered the College for Officer Training in St. John’s, N.L., in 1984, much like soldiership, it was a very natural thing for me. I believed I was simply fulfilling what God had planned for me all my life. If I needed confirmation of that, my father became a Christian during my first year there!
Did I feel adequate? No. Was I a little afraid of what officership was all about? Yes.
But my faith was simple enough to believe that if God called, he would equip. While that may sound cliché, I still believe it.
Thirty-five years ago this coming September, I entered the training college as a member of the Proclaimers of the Gospel Session. I am as convinced today of my calling as I was then. During my 33 years as an officer, there have been many joys and a few disappointments along the way. And there are times I am struck with a sense of inadequacy. My confidence has been shaken a time or two over the years, but I can honestly say that I have never questioned my calling. While I have doubted my own abilities, I have never doubted God’s calling.
To those who ponder the decision to become an officer, I say, listen to your heart and to those encouragers around you, in your family and your corps. You won’t be disappointed.