The Salvation Army is in the process of moving from a period of transition into the new season that God has already mapped out for us. After sharing a meal together last night, the members of the 2013 High Council meet today – initially, for a short three days to confer, communicate and commune together and then, next week, to constitute the 18th High Council for the purpose of electing the 20th General of The Salvation Army. No more, and no less!
Truth be told, what is happening in a hotel near Heathrow just outside London in the next fortnight will not significantly affect the ‘coal face’ ministry and frontline mission that occurs faithfully and, in large measure, effectively, all across the Army world. Quite rightly, the daily ministering of sharing soup, soap and salvation to the marginalised – whether it is a marginalisation that is spiritual, material, emotional, social, educational, vocational or any combination of these – is essentially a localised, needs-based ministry. This operates regardless as to the identity of the occupant of that corner office on the first floor at International Headquarters and, indeed, any other headquarters’ office. Souls will continue to be saved, saints will continue to grow and suffering humanity will continue to be served tomorrow as they have been throughout the tenure of the previous 19 Generals. The continued mission of the Army regardless of the circumstances or the context is something we have come to expect – no more, and no less!
It is a perspective the High Council delegates would do well to remember. We all are part of God’s eternal purpose for the world through The Salvation Army – no more, no less. That purpose is being lived out by the hundreds of thousands who now focus their attention on, and their fervent prayers for, the High Council. It is the faithfulness and commitment they daily exercise in being and doing mission that ensures the Army continues to fulfil its role in God's mission for the world. Their anointed service is of great significance for the Kingdom. This should not be forgotten nor minimised as we focus on the election and appointment of a new General, as many of those anointed and faithful servants join together in praying that God’s anointed will be appointed as General. Placed in that context, it is important that the High Council members are attuned to the Spirit. In the words of the late General John Gowans: “We will listen to the Spirit speaking, and obey!" No more, and no less!
Ultimately, the office of General – honoured and respected as it is by Salvationists all over the world – is a role that contributes to the fulfilling of God’s plan in and through the Army: no more, no less! We have ascribed great significance to the role because it is the tendency of humankind to make much of its leaders – the recent frenzied focus across the world on the birth of one baby boy serves to illustrate this. That said, I hold the office of General in high regard, and witnessed with joy its ministry – of providing intentional direction, an informed platform and inspired leadership – epitomised in the generalship of Linda Bond. So I, too – while recognising the sacredness of all service and, especially, frontline ministry and mission – join with the Army world in praying that the High Council will be led by God to appoint the right leader – the one anointed to assume this particular role at this particular time in our movement. No more, and no less.