My first year of officership
My first year of officership
28 December 2020
Graduating from Eva Burrows College in 2019, cadets from The Messengers of Grace and Messengers of Compassion and Messengers of the Kingdom session of cadets were commissioned. Little did they know that the world – and The Salvation Army’s interaction with it – was about to change irrevocably. Others.org.au asked Lieutenants Paul Trotter, Andrew Webb and Marika Wallis to reflect on their first year of officership.
Others: In one word, describe your first year of Salvation Army officership.
Others: Did college prepare you for 2020?
Andrew: There’s no rulebook for how to lead a corps through a pandemic! But my studies at Eva Burrows College taught me how to conduct difficult funerals well – and I’ve had a couple of those. My studies also taught me how to take care of myself – which was also very important this year!
Others: When COVID hit, and everything changed, what feelings did you experience with regards to your officership and all that you had dreamed or planned for?
Andrew: In my six-plus years of experience, there’s no such thing as ‘usual’ in officership. You can wake up in the morning, set out a list of ‘to-dos’, and get almost none of them done, because God has sent people and situations your way which were more important. At the end of the day, if you can put hand on heart and say you’ve worked hard and lived up to your Officer’s Covenant, then that’s a good day.
Others: What has God taught you this year?
Marika: I am in awe of his continual goodness every day no matter the challenges.
Paul: This is a perfect opportunity for the Church and The Salvation Army to re-evaluate and reset. People are craving a sense of belonging and community. As the church, we need to create an environment that is welcoming, inclusive for all and allows opportunities for us to build meaningful relationships and journey alongside people within our communities.
Andrew: More patience. From helping to home school our four kids to the constantly changing restrictions and how they translate to your own setting, to the perils of online meetings!
Others: Given that you had only been a Salvation Army officer for about two months when the COVID pandemic began to impact Australia, do you think that not having any ‘set’ routines or habits in your officership allowed you to adapt quicker or gave you any benefit?
Paul: By not having any routines set, it became easier to adapt to the changes and challenges as required without thinking about what impact it would have on my routine but allowed us to adapt how we were operating to be able to still make our essential services available.
Others: What’s your advice for those who graduated and were commissioned this year and stepping into their first year of officership in 2021?
Marika: Put God first in absolutely everything you do every single day. It all belongs to him. We are simply privileged to be one small part of the bigger picture.
Paul: Ensure that you have strong support networks around you. Create an environment in your ministry where everyone is welcomed and included. An environment that allows people to ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask questions yourself or politely challenge that status quo if it’s required. But most importantly ensure that you partner with God in everything that you do and ensuring that he is at the centre of decisions that are being made by your leadership and yourself.
Andrew: There will be times things look like they are all falling apart, nothing is going right, and progress is like walking through treacle. Put your covenant in front of you and ask God to help you live up to it. God always comes through in the end. Also be aware you are surrounded by colleagues and friends who are willing to help – that’s the strength of an Army.