For those who don’t know, the Salvation Army is a denomination of the Christian church. Officership in the Salvation Army is basically being a pastor, but with more responsibility and the organization can move you around whenever they want.
I’ll start at the beginning where most stories start. I did not grow up as a Salvationist, in fact, i grew up in a Calvinistic home. Still Christian, but very different beliefs on salvation. Also, the Salvation Army allows for female officers (pastors), which is different from the denomination I grew up in.
I first became acquainted with the Army when I was 10. The Army runs summer camps and I was a camper at one of them from ages 10-15, and then I worked at that camp at ages 16 & 19. (I’m 19 now, that was this past summer)
Before and during this summer, I had never actually gone to a Salvation Army as “my church”. I had visited a few times with the staff, but I never considered myself a salvationist.
Toward the end of the summer, we had a lady talk to us during a staff meeting about officership. I sat there because I had to.. but then one of my friends did something I didn’t expect. As soon as the lady was done talking, he turned to me and asked “So, are you going into training?” I laughed it off, but did admit that I had gone on the website of CFOT (College for Officer Training– Salvation Army seminary) during the weekend. After that I started to actually think about it, though I didn’t even go to a Salvation Army corps (church). I talked to one of the officers who was at camp who encouraged me to start attending a corps, and to look for signs of whether or not this was actually what God wanted me to do.
It took me a couple of months but I eventually started to attend a corps. Keep in mind that I’m not a soldier (member) yet. Anyway, I commute to college everyday which takes anywhere from 35-45 minutes each way, everyday. God really speaks to me through songs, and I basically only listen to Christian music. I get a lot of song time each day on my commute to and from school. Little things in songs just catch me sometimes and make me think about officership.
Another thing that happened was that I was reading in Romans one day when I read a few verses and got a picture in my head of EXACTLY how to illustrate and teach those verses. It was really cool and I literally just sat there in shock and awe.
Then even though I kept getting those confirmations, I still doubted, so I made a deal with God one Sunday. I told him that I thought that it was just my emotions and that I was talking myself into it. So I told him that if he really wanted me to become an officer, that he should have an officer bring it up. I never told anyone about that deal, so I thought it would just go away. (Honestly, I was probably hoping that it would go away.)
Well, God is faithful! Three days after that Sunday, I was at dinner at the corps and I was talking to one of the officers when she turns to me and asks “Do you think God might be calling you to officership?” Keep in mind here that at this point that she met me about a month or two beforehand and that I’m not even a member of the church yet.. talk about unqualified.. I talked to her about it later and she has been very encouraging.
The weekend following that encounter, I went to a Salvation Army Young Adult retreat. One of the sessions that weekend was on surrender. God kept telling me during that session that I needed to surrender my own will if I was to keep saying that I wanted His will to be done. I needed to admit that I was called to officership..
I talked to my corps officer (church pastor), and also to the DYS (Divisional Youth Secretary) who was the officer I had talked to during the summer. Both have been encouraging.
Then if that wasn’t enough proof, there’s more..
The day after the retreat, I was planning a camping trip with my scouting group when we decided that we would hold a church service on Sunday and that I would preach. (scary, I know)
Writing the sermon for that really wasn’t hard, very ironic though.. I was upset at God for telling me that his will involved me becoming an officer. So, what did I do? I wrote a sermon on following God’s will. It was super easy to write too, I started and kept thinking of verses to keep going. Which only further confirms my calling.. oops..
Then I still wasn’t 100% convinced and I told God one night that if this was REALLY what he wanted from me, that he should give me a dream about it. So.. yeah.. that night, I honestly don’t remember what the dream was about.. all I know was that I had red epaulets, which is what officers wear on their uniforms.
So, where am I at now? Well, I’m finding that it gets less terrifying the more I embrace it. Like I thought it would be hard to write that sermon and it wasn’t. I’m realizing that God is faithful and that he will give me the skills that I need to fulfill this calling and to bring him glory. It’s a very humbling experience, it’s not actually what I thought it would be, it’s not a powerful feeling, it’s humbling because God actually picked ME (ME, with all my flaws..) to preach his word… now that’s cool!!
My parents don’t know yet.. this is more so that they still pay for college than anything else. If I tell them now, they’ll ask why they’re paying for a Social Work degree when I want to be a pastor.. even though that will help me. They also do not agree with woman being pastors, but I doubt that they’ll fight that one much.
At this point, I plan to finish my Social Work degree, which should help me as an officer anyway to ensure that communities I’m placed in are adequately served by the church. I’m not a soldier yet.. but only because I can’t take the classes for that until January.
At this point, I’m done denying it. I’m done making excuses. I’m done fighting it. I’m letting God do what he wants with me. For HIS will be done, not mine.
Updates: 1) My parents know now, and are still helping me pay for school.
2) I’m in Soildership (membership) classes now.
Disclaimer: I am still on Salvation Army payroll… I am an employee of the Salvation Army. The views expressed in this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Salvation Army.