Officers on the Move

One thing people in The Salvation Army are familiar with is change.  Army officers expect to move on average every five years.  This means change not only for the officers and their family, but for the corps family as well. Given this historical perspective, you might think that people in The Salvation Army would be experts when it comes to change. This is not always the case.

Today, we live in an environment of rapid and continuous change.  Some people handle change better than others, but no one escapes change.  There are many obstacles to deal with in change and continuous change can create what is known as “change burn-out”. This is especially true if past changes have failed or resulted in minimal success.

Thankfully, there are change tips and techniques that can help. The tips shown here are offered as helpful advice for officers who are On The Move.



Tips For Receiving New Leaders


1. Throw a welcome party/picnic. Your new officers need fellowship with their corps people and community leaders. It will give them the opportunity to begin forming relationships, and this will strengthen their influence.

2. Avoid the “fix-it list” approach that we can get caught up in whenever new leaders arrive. While some problems may get resolved just because of the change, let’s be realistic in our expectations and give new leaders the time they need to observe us and strategize about how to best lead us.

3. (This one is for corps leaders) Make sure the quarters is clean and in good repair. If you want to make the officer’s family feel welcomed right off the bat, then make sure it is a nice place to live. If there’s a yard, have it mowed and in good shape. Take care of your officers as you expect them to care for you.

4. Receive the officer as one whom the Lord has sent to be His spokesman. As St. Paul says, “Here is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” (1 Cor. 4:1).

5. Receive the officer with understanding and charity. If he is just out of college, cut him some slack. Allow him time to settle into his new role. If it seems appropriate, ask how he likes being in charge and if it is what he expected. Help him learn as he goes and forgive his mistakes, even as the Lord forgives yours.

6. Avoid playing the “Captain, people are saying” game. Also, avoid letting someone tell you “people are saying…” as they encourage you to tell the officer. Instead, encourage that person to go speak to the officer.

7. Remember your officer is not a mind-reader. She will not simply know when somebody is sick or hospitalized unless you, or a member of your family, lets her know.

8. Be open to some change. Your new officer may come with suggestions and new ideas. And if, in his enthusiasm, he fails adequately to explain the ideas, speak gently to him and let him know your feelings. Do consider that sometimes changes are good and even necessary. Because his ideas are different doesn’t mean he’s wrong.

9. Learn your new officers. Every leader has specific likes, dislikes, preferences, quirks, and hot buttons. Have coffee with them, check out the grapevine, observe carefully. Modify your own behavior accordingly.

10. If you and your new officer “have a history”, take the high road. Try to have an honest discussion, practice some attitude adjustment if necessary, and ask how you might help support the ministry.



Tips For Officers Leaving An Appointment


1.  Talk with a few key people privately before public announcement.  They deserve process time.

2.  Say it in a sentence.  When you make the announcement, say it in the first sentence, and then explain later.  Long build-ups that lead to a statement create apprehension and tension, and then do not leave time for internal processing afterwards.

3.  Be straightforward with your explanations.  Assure folks you are following God’s leading as best you understand it.

4.  Maximize your remaining moments.  As far as possible, finish well the projects you have started, or smooth the way for others to keep momentum going.  This is a period of consolidation.

5.  Don’t offer to come back for weddings and special events.  Those sensitive moments are important for bonding to your successor.  Don’t short-circuit the future.

6.  Don’t abdicate-consolidate.  Keep your ministry positive, based on your trust in God that He will provide for the corps.

7.  Keep to a minimum any references to your new appointment.  Keep the corps focused on its future with new officers, not on your future.

8.  Be fair to your successor.  Don’t stack the deck by making last-minute decisions in your favor.  Trust the process and allow it to work.  Stay out of the way.

9.  Don’t criticize your critics.  Let your record stand and leave the reckoning with God.

10.  Be positive about your successor.  Affirm the new officer no matter whom headquarters appoints.  This will give them a better chance of succeeding together.


Tips For Officers In A New Appointment


1. Enjoy the honeymoon benefits.  Make the most of the early going by having an initial 90 day plan.  This is the best time to lay the foundations of productive relationships by getting to know your people.  Remember that the corps family is going through a big change as well.  Be a good listener, positive and encouraging.

2. Resist the temptation of making yourself look good at the expense of your predecessor with phrases like “before I came”, “when I came”, after I came”. Your predecessor likely has good friends in the corps and they will be greatly affected by your words. Try not to compare your new corps to previous corps appointments or make constant reference to what happened in those appointments.

3. Avoid a Messiah complex. It’s okay not to have all the answers about all the corps business.  Get used to saying, “I don’t know” (because you don’t!) and be diligent to find answers whenever possible.

4. Affirm your predecessor’s ministry. Minimizing another’s hard work will lead to questions of your own authenticity. Don’t criticize the previous officer. You don’t know all the details, so you can exercise grace.

5.  Be Yourself. Make the most of the unique gifts, abilities and insights God has given you for His glory. Share your story, your convictions about ministry so that the corps people can begin to know you and understand where your priorities will lie.

6.  Unless necessary, avoid making changes until you can conduct a change audit to determine the history of change in the corps. Identify obstacles and pockets of resistance and begin building a guiding coalition to help guide any change process. When possible look for opportunities to build on the positive and effective things already in place.

7.  Remember the people entrusted to your ministry are the Army in that location. As you assume leadership involve them in discussions about the vision and direction of the corps.  Teach them how to take ownership and responsibility by setting the example yourself.

8.  Be patient during the initial culture shock. Your family will likely be under great stress as you find new doctors, piano teachers, sports programs, etc. Take time to establish these connections in the days following a move.

9.  Be committed to an extended learning curve.  Don’t be over-anxious.  There may be a sense of urgency over many things, but rushing is a different matter.

10. Remember that communication, conflict and change all go hand in hand. Read and learn as much as you can about transitioning well.

Making a Smooth Transition

This time each year, The Salvation Army prepares for the movement of officers. For those contemplating unknown locations, the season brings uncertainty.  To ease this anxiety, those who have “been there, done that” offer the following words of encouragement.

New Frontier
Major Edward Hill, Hawaii/Pacific Islands 
divisional commander
“My advice for the officer changing appointments is to wholeheartedly smooth the way for his successor. I would also suggest that if the officer has children, to take their concerns about moving very seriously. The last thing I would say is that once you arrive in an appointment, refrain from criticizing the officer you have followed or downgrading their contribution.”

Major Timothy Foley, Crestmont College
“Moving is a time when the curtain comes down on one act in your life only to be raised on another. Embrace the moments you have remaining in your current ministry. Around the corner awaits further challenges and blessings. Trust God. For those who havechildren moving, make sure to discuss the pending move and listen to what they are feeling. We have always tried to make an adventure out of a move. Try using Google Earth to explore your new community and home. A good habit is to always leave an appointment in a manner that you would like to receive it. Leave a good brief of the details of your ministry for your successor. Finish well.”

Major Douglas Danielson, 
Southwest divisional commander
“Trust the Lord in this move. He has been with you in the past (Psalm 63:7) and has not changed (Isaiah 59:1). Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight”(Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB).

Major Victor Doughty, 
Intermountain divisional commander
“In many respects, George Scott Railton is the patron saint of officers on the move. Not only did he pen the words to ‘No Home On Earth Have I,’ but he offers a prayer that all farewelling officers can take to heart: ‘Wherever we may be, God grant us grace to persevere to the end in work that does not show, but which somebody must do if the Army is always to be marching along.’”

Major Donald Hostetler, Cascade divisional commander
“Every change of appointment brings exciting opportunities to explore. New people, new places, new cultures, new languages. My wife and I have had appointments from New England to Southern California to the Pacific Northwest. In each place (and in all those in between) we experienced fulfilling relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ who enriched us on our ministry journey.
“As you are in the throes of change, it is sometimes easy to get lost among the myriad things on the ‘to do’ list. But take the time to celebrate the ministry you have had with those you are leaving behind, then face the new with excitement for what God has in store for you there. Enjoy the adventure!”

Lt. Colonel Victor Leslie, Southern California divisional commander
“It takes a lot of courage to let loose of the known and take hold of the unknown. Be brave! Our security is that God is always relevant and still eager to engage us—wherever we are.”

Lt. Colonel Douglas O’Brien, Northwest divisional commander
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast (Psalm 139:7 NIV).

Lt. Colonel Joseph Posillico, 
Golden State divisional commander
“Officership comes with challenges and opportunities. We especially note this with new appointments. We should expect both so that our focus would remain on him who called us. Be slow to speak, but listen well. Build on what you are given as a foundation, and as Paul wrote to the Colossians: Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”

Major Stephen Smith, 
Crestmont College
“June can be a challenging time for officers who are under farewell orders and can be difficult for their families and the congregations they leave. It is in times like this that we learn to trust God even more than before. As we trust God more, we acknowledge that he is in control and his purposes will be accomplished.”

Major Doug Tollerud, 
Alaska divisional commander
I have always looked at moves as a new adventure. As I prepared my family , we focused on the opportunities to develop positive relationships in our new community. In my 25 plus years of service, I have taken to heart the words of Sidney Cox, ‘I’m in His hands, whatever the future holds, I’m in His hands. The days I cannot see, have all been planned for me. His way is best you see, I’m in His hands.’
“The scripture verse that has been so supportive can be found in II Timothy 1:12: For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”

Major Doug Riley, 
Del Oro divisional commander
“Remember, you are pastoring in a time that is the most exciting yet with the greatest generational challenges. People of all ages are looking at you to make some sense of this upside down world. Remember the mission and be assured of a God that comes beside you to encourage, comfort and guide you. Keep positive, it is contagious to those who are watching you in these transitions: your church, friends and family. Our world and lives become like patchwork on the quilt of our ministry. God is in every move…
If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 4:11b.This time each year, The Salvation Army prepares for the movement of officers. For those contemplating unknown locations, the season brings uncertainty. To ease this anxiety, those who have “been there, done that” offer the following words of encouragement.

NAOC 2011 Leadership Connections

During the week of April 29, 2011, more than 2,000 Salvation Army leaders gathered in Orlando Florida for the National Advisory Organizations Conference (NAOC).  The Imagitorium, aka the NAOC exhibit hall, was a great place for attendees to learn more about The Salvation Army’s many partners and resources.

At the Jack McDowell School for Leadership Development kiosk, visitors received a free copy of “There’s More to Life Than Making A Living”, (written by Jack McDowell who endowed the school) and registered  to receive one of ten free complimentary one-year subscriptions to the nationally published Leadership Journal magazine.

Congratulations to these winners:

Scott Sciuchetti  – Seattle, WA

Major Timothy Parker – Blarre, MN

Mary Archer – Dallas, TX

Sharron Hudson – Long Beach, CA

Pam Brackenbury – Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

Captains Higdon – Temple, TX

Captain Jeff Eddy, Mattoon, IL

Bridget Lenhardt – St. Louis, MO

Ben Watts – Augusta, GA

Emmanuel Suple – Port Au Prince, Haiti

Leaders Shape Leaders @ Regional Training 2011

Twenty-seven officers from the USA Southern Territory recently attended regional training.

When asked, “What is your biggest challenge when it comes to being formed as a spiritual leader?” their responses included:

Regional West 2011 GroupRegional East 2011Group






The Prothro Center in Texas and Camp Happyland in Virginia

Being able to take people deeper into God’s word.

  1. My biggest challenge is leading myself into a consistent discipline of Bible Study and Prayer.  I am a natural teacher and leader and in most circumstances I can teach and lead while depending on my natural abilities and what I already know.  The challenge is to keep developing myself and allowing the Holy Spirit to continue His work in my mind and heart. I am reminded that people I lead and teach will have a difficult time growing if I as their teacher am not growing too.
  2. Letting feelings of inadequacy cripple me from reaching out to others.
  3. The answer to this question is balancing all the roles that a Salvation Army Officer has to handle.
  4. As an Officer we wear so many hats it is time to find adequate time to do my daily devotions.  I would like to have more quality time with the Lord.
  5. I struggle with it a lot.  It doesn’t come easy to me.  I tend to wander away from this relationship.  It is a constant battle for me.  But I still get back up and begin to try again and again.
  6. Conflict:  Conflict with employees or anyone can be dangerous.  I want to make sure I am doing my job as a steward while at the same time doing it as a spiritual leader.  Growing Leaders:  I am challenged to find the right people and then grow then into their position.
  7. I feel my biggest challenge comes with my being so young.  I am 27 years old.  I feel as people don’t respect me as a spiritual leader because of my age and knowledge.  I would like to figure out how I can become more useful in this ministry and learn to tackle the leadership problems that I face.
  8. My biggest challenge when it comes to being formed as a spiritual leader is that of being human a sinner trying to become a saint.  I guess this is in general what we all believers face when it comes to getting closer to our Lord God and savior Jesus Christ.  When we are willing to learn and study God’s word this challenge becomes part of our daily living to the point that we learn to live with it.  And as we grow spiritually by His grace and mercy, we get motivated to go deeper with God.
  9. It is not that I cannot lead, I am basically a shy person, I tend to step back and let others speak or lead.
  10. The unique added responsibilities of a Salvation Army Officer are my biggest challenge of being formed as spiritual leader.
  11. Making sure I am where I need to be spiritually in order to lead others.

Participants in the three-day intensive journeyed from defining Authentic Leadership through the practices of Shaping a Transformed Life  The training concluded with leaders learning how to apply what was shared to achieve a focused life.   Comments from officers who attended include:

  • I appreciate the openness of our leaders and coaches – to share the molding of their character by God.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed myself this week and learned a lot of useful information about leadership.
  • The School for Leadership always shows wonderful hospitality and delivers a valuable quality program.
  • As officers we must always strive to be better leaders.  This training is one of the many ways in which we can improve ourselves and further the Kingdom thru better more personal, focused, developed leadership.
  • I want to say thank you. Keep teaching people to finish well. All the actions and material taught has prepared me with the mindset that – The Best Is Yet To Come!
  • Every officer, even seniors, must take advantage of this workshop and participate.  It was refreshing and encouraging.  God bless you all.