Some People Are Moving


(Another Open Letter to my friends who are Officers in the Salvation Army.)

Dear… Whomever you are,

You are all across the country and over the next few weeks you will be getting telephone calls from your bosses. You will be getting calls informing you that you are moving to a new place and starting something of a new life.

The phones will ring in the apartments of single Officers and in the homes of married ones. They will ring in your living rooms, kitchens and in your offices and in your pockets. They will ring on the way to Bible Study or your daughter’s choir concert. They will ring on date night or game night.

You will never forget this call. You will never forget the night it comes. These are calls that change the course of people’s lives.

The phone will ring and you will pick it up. You will pick it up with hopes and dreams. You will pick it up with a mission. You, a person with a heart and with feelings and a name, will pick up the phone and you will know. You will pick up the phone and the funny thing that is sometimes forgotten is that on the other end of the line is another person with a mission and a heart and feelings and a name.

 

Talk to them.

 

For some of you, these calls are expected and even invited. You have been anticipating new challenges. You are eager for new opportunities. Take care not to be too eager.

For some of you, these calls are answered with trepidation or regret. It’s too soon to move. There’s still work that needs to be done. The kids aren’t ready for something new right now. Take care not to underestimate them. Or you. Or Him.

And for some of you, these calls come with nothing but utter shock. We’ve only just arrived. What have we done wrong? Why? Take care not to be afraid of the future.

You may hang up from this call and immediately call or text mom or dad, brothers or sisters. You may call one or two of the faithful mentors in your life and speak to them. You may call the saint at the church and be fortunate enough to listen to seldom-shared wisdom.

Or the call ends and you and your spouse can do little but look at each other. You don’t have to hold back. You don’t have to be strong. You don’t have to have answers.

Or you may sit down with your family and look into the eyes of your children. This is a good time to demonstrate complete trust. This is an opportunity to live faith. This is a chance to grow…together.

 

Just talk to them.

 

Some of you will open a Bible and others will open Google maps.

Some will dance and sing, others will yell and scream. Some will cry, some will smile. Some will do all of the above. And of those, a few will attempt them all simultaneously.

Some of you will feel promoted. Some will feel demoted. You were never meant to be the Head of the Church, that job is already spoken for. Don’t assume it to be yours and don’t assume it’s been vacated.

Some will feel more than capable of the task, others will feel entirely unprepared. Every moment of our lives, in every job and in every relationship, is given through grace alone. Your best moments are only so because grace lifts you up. In your worst moments you are carried through on strength that is not your own.

Some will feel over-qualified, some will feel under-appreciated. Who among us are worthy to receive the gospel, much less to share it with others? Yet since we have received it, who among us can claim its promise more or less than another? Are we not all equal in our share of grace? For grace has traveled every distance equally and completely and it is not how or where we have been saved that is profound, but simply that we have been saved.

You may hear the name of your new hometown or your new appointment and feelings of pride and accomplishment will set in. Good work is honored. Faithful ministry is rewarded, though seldom through titles and prominence. Be strong and courageous wherever you set your feet. Simply continue to follow faithfully, regardless of reputation or rank.

Some of you will hear in anticipation and others in shock. Some will hear the name of that hometown or the position and succumb to disappointment or frustration.

Do not feel forgotten or forsaken. Elijah ran for his life. He sat in a cave and waited for God to show up. When He did, it wasn’t how Elijah expected it. Don’t expect. Listen. Better yet, don’t run for your life when God is in control.

However you respond, feelings will reign supreme for a while.

Ecstatic. Overjoyed. Dismayed. Confused. Betrayed. Angry.

Do not forget those who have been faithful to you. Your friends and family, or the soldiers and kids at your Corps. Do not think that you are the only one affected.

Set your successor up for success. Teach understanding as a way of life. Show love and flexibility as good habits. Preach grace in all things, at all times and with all people.

Do not give fear a seat at the table or a place in the pew.

Do not forget your children. Do not assume they will “bounce back”. Do not take their friendships or their grades or their understanding for granted. Do not miss a single moment in their lives as God takes them from the place that they know (and love) and puts them in a foreign land. Talk to them. Understand them. Love them more today than yesterday.

Finally, stay faithful to the call. Not just the call you got from your boss that will send you to a new place, but to the Call that changed your life in the first place.

Stay in step with He who has equipped you to this point and anticipate more.

Seek to have a radiant face and always offer an outstretched hand.

“Be holy and show up for work.”*

Remain in prayer. Always in prayer.

And you’ll be ok.

 

*Commissioner Jim Knaggs

Chris

Chris

16 Comments

  • Esther Wilson May 6, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Thank you, Chris. Another beautifully written post. Another mission-oriented, heart-felt take on what is about to happen in the Army world to so many of our friends. I love you dearly. (Re-wrote post because the other one didn’t come up????)

  • EDITH MAC LEAN FOOR BRONSON May 6, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Oh my…This brought back memories of my years as an officer…I was widowed while stat ioned in Altoona PA corps..I went on with my 2 children, ages 2 and 6…I look back and I do not know of my kids being upset because they were so young..I recall going on a brief furlough with them and then all in all my son attended 3 first grades before getting settled in my next appt as commanding officer (widow)….
    I remarried after 5 yrs on my own, to a good Christian gentleman and left the work because he was not an officer…
    All that to say, wow this brought back some awesome memories and reminded me of how anyone in the ministry has to be totally dedicated, come what may. And my hats off to my parents before me who were in the 1924-25 Invincible session and my brothers who were in the Ambassador, Heralds and Great Hearts..God Bless The Salvation Army.

  • Brian Glasco May 6, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Thank you for this post. How eloquently you have expressed this time of uncertainty and fear. I pray for all who will experience this and have experienced this recently. May God grant peace upon their hearts and fortify them with strength so the can go in peace and not pieces.

  • Thanks, Chris, for the good word. As one who is packing (and has packed many times) I sincerely appreciate the encouragement and exhortation.

  • Beautiful.

  • Good stuff!! Looks like you’ve been around so many Sally’s..

  • As I read this, I noted the repetition of the phrase: talk to them. I just wish that “talk to them” was a part of the process before the phone call, not just after the phone call. I dream of the day when there is open, honest dialogue with officers and TSA leadership in regards to appointments long before they are set in stone.

  • Thank you friend for great words that resonate with many at this time.

  • Beautifully done, Chris. Ah, the memories, eh?

  • Kristina Orsini May 3, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    I have to say moving growing up never got easier and the worst move was when my folks move from PA to NHQ during my junior year. Thank you for speaking about the kids who have no voice!

    • You’re very welcome. Thank you for the comment. Keep the OKs (and their parents) in your prayers.

  • Rachel Stouder May 3, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    You don’t know me at all (I think) but you nailed this. You managed to hit on these distinctives perfectly. Thanks for putting it out there.

    Two things that especially stuck out to me which I was so glad you said:

    “Do not feel forgotten or forsaken. Elijah ran for his life. He sat in a cave and waited for God to show up. When He did, it wasn’t how Elijah expected it. Don’t expect. Listen. Better yet, don’t run for your life when God is in control.”

    And

    “Set your successor up for success.”

    Excellent. Thanks!

    • Thanks for the comment and the encouragement, Rachel. The name doesn’t sound familiar, but with a lifetime spent in three US territories, there have been a lot of divine interesections, most of which I don’t remember well enough, sadly. I’m glad the post spoke to you. Blessings.

  • Well written, Chris! Thank you for your words of wisdom and encouragement.

    Whether we are the ones moving or the ones staying, we’re all affected by these moves. You are right: lives are changed by these calls, both those moving and those staying. Some will feel the loss of congregations; others will feel the loss of shepherds. Some will be entrusted with the care of new staff, employees, and volunteers; others will receive new bosses and new leaders.

    We’re all affected by these moves. Many will question these moves: the wisdom behind the moves, the ability to rise to new challenges, the ability to remain faithful or to see God’s hand at work in their lives and the lives of those affected by these moves, whether moving on or remaining where we are. We’re all affected by these moves.

    We’re all affected by these moves, and many of us cannot begin to imagine what these changes will bring. I thank God for His promise: “ ‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine’ ” (Isaiah 55:8 NLT).

    I thank God for His saving grace and sustaining power to see us all through these moves. 1 Corinthians 2:9 comes to mind: “That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,
    ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.’ ”

    We’re all affected by these moves. So whether we’re packing to move or wondering about those who are the next to arrive, let’s bear Ephesians 3:20-21 in our minds and hearts: “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

  • I am a soldier in a corp and our leaders are moving. I am so sad to see them move away and I don’t want them to move. Enough of my feelings. My Ministers have taught me well. When they first came to our corp, I didn’t “like ” them, they were different, I walked away (biggest mistake I made!!). I came back home and realized it wasn’t fair of me to not give them a chance. It was different for them too. Since then, I have learned so much from them, I am in a closer relationship with God my Savior, I am getting better at listening (I think,lol), my faith is stronger and now I have been able to become a local officer. All of the above has been because of the grace, mercy and love of my current Ministers. Now I will take what I have learned from two amazing Ministers, confidants, leaders, friends and family and carry that forward to my new Ministers and leaders. My Mjr and Cpt will be missed very much.

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