google analytics

Monday, October 24, 2016

Dangerous Self-Deceptions in Salvation Army Officers

Several years ago, a wise old Sergeant Major at our corps (which is something like a Deacon at the local church in other denominations) sat down with me to give me the benefit of his long experience and his advice for being an effective officer (pastor) in The Salvation Army.

He said, “Captain,” (This was before I was promoted to Major, you see…) He said, “Captain, in my experience there are lots of ways that a corps officer can go wrong and screw things up at the corps.  But the most common sorts of failure all involve self-deception.”

“Self-deception? How so?” I asked.

“Well, an officer can convince him or herself that they are or that the corps is richer than it is, and spend money too freely and recklessly.”

“Agreed,” I said. “It is easy to run a corps into debt.”

“Another way the officer can screw up is to imagine that he or she is more skilled or talented than they are in reality. They imagine themselves to be great musicians or very great preachers. God save us from those vocal solos and sermons.”

He laughed and I laughed with him, but only briefly. “Are you speaking about me?” The sergeant major laughed again. “No. not yet. But I’ll let you know if your ego begins to outrun your abilities.”

“Gee, thanks,” I said with a slightly sarcastic tone, but with complete sincerity.  “Are there other dangerous self-deceptions in the officers that you’ve known?”

“One more,” he told me. “And it may be the most common and the most dangerous.”

“Tell me.”

“The most common are those who imagine themselves to be morally better – those who have convinced themselves that they are superior in virtue and holiness.”

“Yes,” I said without laughter now.

(Confession time: this story is adapted from a Socratic conversation in Plato’s Philebus.

Abstract Flower Silhouette

Silhouetted artificial flowers photographed with a macro attachment and a homemade DIY blur filter.

Abstract Flower Silhouette by Jeff Carter on

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Brighter than I Feel

Roadside daisies are almost always brighter than I feel.

Brighter than I Feel by Jeff Carter on

Queen Anne's Lace

Did you know that Queen Anne's Lace is part of the same family as carrots?

Queen Ann

Dog for Sale

Yesterday the weather was nice so I went for a walk around the neighborhood. I walked along the sidewalk lined with maple and crab apple trees, enjoying the bright sun and the clear sky. At the end of the block I saw little Missy sitting at the edge of her family’s yard, near the driveway.

She sat on a metal folding chair next to a collapsible card table. At her feet was her dog, Rufus, lying rather dejectedly inside his crate. Beside them both was a large cardboard sign, hand-lettered to advertise: “DOG FOR SALE! CHEAP!”

I waved at Missy and greeted her and then asked about her sign. “Why are you selling Rufus? You’ve had that dog for years. That mutt loves you.”

She answered without looking at me. “I’m selling the dog ‘cause he barks and snarls at me.”

This surprised me. “Is he dangerous? Has Rufus bitten you, or any of the other neighborhood kids?”

“No.” She said. She still made no eye contact. “He just barks and snarls and gets mean. And only when I stab him with my pocket knife.” 
The views, comments, statements and opinions expressed on this Web site do not necessarily represent the official position of The Salvation Army.


Related Posts with Thumbnails