Things Are Going to Change


(An Open Letter to my fellow Christ-followers and fellow laborers in the Salvation Army.)

Dear Congregation members, program attendees, employees, Advisory Board members, and any other friends of The Salvation Army that are facing a change in leadership,

Calls have been made. The news has been shared. Things are going to change.

Your leaders are going to change. Your pastors are going to change. Your bosses are going to change. Over the next two months, your world will drastically change.

You’re not the only one.

Things are going to change for everyone and we all have a role in that.

From the moment that Lieutenant, Envoy, Auxiliary Captain, Captain, Major, Lt. Colonel, Colonel or Commissioner hung up that phone, their hearts and minds have been as busy as that phone line was. Their lives are changing, too. Let’s not forget that.

Let’s not get caught up in the shallow, shall we? Let’s not give any space to thoughts of promotions or demotions, lest we give too much credit to our own efforts and not enough to the Holy Spirit. Let’s not dwell on the past, please, either. Let’s remember that people grow. Everything living grows. I grow, you grow, they grow, lest we forget that redemption is always a story that never ends. Let’s forego the phantom of perfection, the lies we’ll be tempted to tell ourselves and others about “the way things used to be,” lest we lose sight of God’s hand and will in every circumstance of our lives.

Instead, let’s lean deeply into this change. Let’s embrace the opportunities before us and the people that God has brought and is bringing into our lives. Every moment, every conversation, every relationship is a holy, sacred intersection between people all made in the image of the Almighty. Let’s share that image freely. Let’s honor that image.

Let’s dive into the change. As imperfect congregation members that God is still working in, let’s be grateful for the inspired voices we’ve heard and let us pray for those we soon will. As teachable employees working for an organization and a mission that we love, let us help to carry a vision bigger than a person with grace and patience. As people with faults who need to be loved, pastored, and nurtured along this journey, let us demonstrate to our new leaders with our full selves all the best of those things that have been generously shared with us.

May we resist gossip. May we avoid destructive talk. May we fight all the temptations that will bring hurt to ourselves and to others. May we choose love. May we seek grace AND peace. May our words build the best things in the best ways. May those that leave, leave proud. May those that leave, leave loved. May those that leave, leave knowing that the house they lived in, the people they loved and the mission they gave themselves to is in good hands.

Be good hands. (I know, I cringed writing it… but it sort of works so we’re all going to go with it, ok? Thanks…)

Use those good hands. There is much to be done on every front in a very short period of time. There are projects that need to be wrapped up. There are loose ends that need to be tied. There are details that need to be sorted out. There are boxes to pack. There are phone calls to make. There is much to be done.

Use those good hands. Applaud the good work that has been done, even if you have to work to see it. Reach out to those who are leaving and offer your support, encouragement and a helping hand. Clasp their hands in your own and pray for everything they are going through right now.

Use those good hands to continue the work that must be done. Use them to show the love that loves through transition. Use them to carry the flag and the gospel in a world that isn’t waiting for the moving truck. Use them to open doors, to feed the hungry, to hug the hurting, to meet the needs of any that come your way over these next months.

Use those good hands. Put them together and pray for your next pastor/leader/boss/whatever. Greet them on their first day with an eager handshake and not a pointing finger. Grab a box from the truck. Bring them pizza because they don’t know what’s good around here. Hug them because they’re tired and empty and their work is only beginning.

Things are going to change for everyone and we all have a role in that.

Welcome the successor and be a part of their success. Love the replacement and give them a place where they belong. More than anything, start saying their names. All their names, if that’s applicable. Say his name and her name and the names of their kids. Google them in a non-stalker fashion and pray for them.

They are leaving a place they have grown to love or that they need to leave, maybe both. They are walking away from a place that has filled them or drained them, occasionally at the same time. They are packing boxes, perhaps too soon, that are symbolic of relationships that are too temporary, of visions that have been put away and of things sacrificed that we cannot see or know.

They are not your enemy. They are not the things you’ve heard about them. They are bringing their own ideas and their own inspiration. They are bringing their own regrets and doubts. They are bringing their own skills and talents. They are bringing their own fears.

It is not fair to expect them to fill the shoes that were left for them… they are bringing their own shoes. They have committed their lives to the same Lord and they have been crafted by the same hands as you and I have. And we are all loved by the same God and covered by the same grace.

Let’s share those things. Let’s talk about those things. Let’s dwell on opportunities and possibilities. Let’s look up with one another, not back and not down.

While things are going to change, and if we’re honest they’re always going to change, let’s make sure the things that don’t change are the best things. Things like GRACE. Things like LOVE. Things like COMMUNITY. Things like PRAYER.

Let these be the things that we value and the things that we seek.

Chris

Chris

6 Comments

  • Ted Tressler May 5, 2016 at 9:16 am

    Thoughtful, Godly words…thank you, Chris.

  • I love General Cox’s recent comment about change: “God expects us to be part of the process — not spectators sitting by watching things happen.”

  • Beautifully written and I guess you’re right, so however much we’re don’t want this to happen, at least you’ve made this person a little more accepting of the why this process happens!!! 😉

    • Thanks, Sarah. It’s definitely a difficult thing. And there’s so much happening behind the faces that we don’t know about. As an officer’s kid, I’ve seen all the options. We walked into places where we never had the chance to be as good as the previous officers and we walked into places where there was nothing but a blank slate. Pray for your current leaders and friends who are packing up their life and heading into unknown waters and pray for those that are on their way to you, to them they are equally unknown waters. Thanks again for the comment.

  • L. Caruthers May 5, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    I am sure I speak for many when I say that indeed there is a struggle and indeed the struggle hurts…

    However, your words helped shed a little light on what seemed a very dismal situation.

    Thank you

  • Thanks Chris! I am sharing this with credit to you. Great words! Blessings!

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