A Personal Commitment
The phrase “…to love and serve him supremely all my days…” is the personal promise of every officer to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. An officer’s ministry can greatly suffer if the relationship between the officer and God does not take priority. One’s own devotional and prayer life should be valued and cherished – it is the source from which energy for ministry and mission comes from.
Robert Murray M’Cheyne once said, “The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness.” The same rings true for officers – our personal holiness, our intimate relationship with God, reflects in the way we minister to others. Before we can begin our service and ministry, our hearts and lives must be in tune with God. How are we expected to minister to the souls of others when our own soul is malnourished? It is through love and faithful obedience to God that the acts of service outlined in the Covenant can be fulfilled.
As the Covenant states, this personal commitment and love of God takes place each and every day. With busy schedules and endless lists of things to do, an officer’s life is quite busy. This, however, should not force personal time with the Lord to be relegated to the back-burner. Priority must be given each day to enriching one’s own spiritual life through the reading of God’s Word, prayer, self-care, and any other useful means of devotion. Through this will come the strength needed for each and every day of challenging ministry. Just as we need sustenance for each day, we also need spiritual sustenance each day to survive.
Having said this, I encourage all officers to be quick to forgive yourself on the days that you may simply forget to have time with God. Things happen in life that cause us to miss that time. For people with perfectionist tendencies like me, this can be a challenge to do, but it is important for spiritual health to forgive ourselves when we may not meet our own standards.
Along with this personal commitment to love and follow God in obedience comes the necessity of self-care. The officer’s life can be quite draining and time for self-care is a must to mitigate burnout. You could say that self-care is crisis prevention rather than crisis reaction. Though self-care is not explicitly mentioned in the Covenant, it is an essential part of personal health in order to be fit for service.
Self-care comes in many different forms. Each person should determine what methods of self-care bring them the most spiritual, emotional, and physical health. Keeping these areas of personal health in focus helps empower the officer for ministry and service.
Of all the areas of an officer’s ministry, the area of self-care can be the easiest one to neglect. For people who have the characteristic of self-giving, it can be a challenge to take precious time and energy for one’s self. Please know that self-care is not a selfish act. Self-care is needed in order to give of one’s self to the highest capactiy.
This phrase of the Covenant speaks of being a faithful servant of God. The Covenant goes into further detail of aspects of service which will be explored in the next few posts. Much of the officer’s ministry is given towards service: serving others both physically and spiritually. An officer serves the Lord through obedience and serving others.
I recently had an encounter with two Homeland Security agents in downtown Chicago. After our conversation, one agent said, “Thank you for what you do.” That same day, another lady donated to The Salvation Army and told me about what The Salvation Army did for her family. Our United States slogan is that we are “Doing the Most Good” with what is entrusted to us. Officers and soldiers “do” a lot of things, but it is motivated solely by our love for God and our desire to serve him.
Service is never complete for an officer. There is always someone hurting in a community. There is always someone needing Christ. There is always someone in a difficult family situation. There is always someone seeking a deeper relationship with Christ. There is always someone needing food or shelter. There is always someone who needs comfort. Until Christ returns and his kingdom is established on earth, the work of an officer will continue. With William Booth and generations of Salvationists, we proclaim, “I’ll fight! I’ll fight to the very end!”