e-connect talks to the new territorial secretary for programme, Lieut-Colonel Graeme Rigley.
At times a concern is expressed that The Salvation Army, like other churches and NGOs, is in danger of diluting its client focus, especially due to concerns about the health or prominence of the organisation? What’s your view?
The Salvation Army needs to ensure that we maintain our client focus. Salvation Army leaders and staff should always examine our programs, and look to justify ‘our’ involvement through seeking greater outcomes for clients, and helping them to achieve holistic life transformation.
In truth, our work is spread widely; and we need to be sustainable. Army funding should be used to maximise results for clients, and should not be used to make up for inadequate operational funding of government funded programs. Salvation Army programs should be demonstrating their nature by adding extra dimensions to the lives of clients, while running on a realistic funding formula from governments.
This is your fifth day on the job; how goes the transition from divisional leadership to a cabinet role?
The experience of working with professional service deliverers has been invaluable. I have seen good, mission-integrated responses. Those experiences and relationships will inform my territorial role and responsibilities.
How do you define mission?
In The Salvation Army, mission is the outworking of the good news, or gospel, of Christ. It means declaring and demonstrating the reality of transformation and the reality of salvation, in all its facets, both temporal (right here, right now) and eternal through Christ.
So, mission is helping people to bring about positive change in their lives. That happens through Christ’s grace; we invite people into transformation, and to make new relationships with each other and with God. That in no way invalidates our social work; it motivates it. And bear in mind that ‘mission’ is a broad concept; if we can help someone to become more the person that we believe God created them to be, then that’s mission. We are called to be ‘salt and light’, and to be relevant and effective in a very complex world. I want to see us fulfil the territory’s four mission intentions of reforming society, making disciples, transforming lives and caring for people.
You are 57 now, and you are at a point in your life where you know yourself well – what are your strengths?
I have a certain sense of surety in knowing myself before God, and this is the bedrock that helps give me clarity for direction and perspective.
I value relationships and want to bring friendship and hope to other people as I share in their journeys. Even when dealing with confronting issues, I seek to engage in those circumstances with respect for others. I believe that leadership depends significantly on relationships; and that it is important to genuinely care for those whom we encounter in our own journey.
To a large extent, for better and worse, we are what the past has made us, but I believe that God calls us to be his people and to exhibit his nature and love.
How important is harm minimisation as a strategy for the territory?
Harm minimisation is a very significant strategy, as The Salvation Army believes in the value and dignity of all people under God and respects their rights to make decisions that impact upon their lives. It is also important in this context to realise that we want to assist people to minimise any negativity or unintended consequences of their choices.
What's the territory's most pressing challenge?
I believe the territory's most pressing challenge is to continue to seek to realise the purpose for which God raised up The Salvation Army; to preach in word and deed the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
There's an old definition that ‘stress is responsibility without authority’ – what’s your advice about working with stress, and what's your view on empowerment balanced by accountability?
I seek to empower people to take authority and leadership within their area of responsibility, but also recognise that empowerment is balanced by accountability. Empowerment without accountability is both poor leadership and poor stewardship. Accountability structures actually provide the framework for effective and empowered decision making.
What are your hopes for your role and your colleagues’ efforts in 2013?
My hope for 2013 is that we will see both a continuation and an extension of the work of The Salvation Army in transforming people’s lives and communities and the potential for integrated mission to be more and more realised. It is my hope that my colleagues and I will be both responsible and envisioned in the stewardship of the spiritual, personnel, financial and material resources that God has entrusted to The Salvation Army.
What are your hopes for The Salvation Army?
I want The Salvation Army to be revitalised and remain committed to the purpose for which it was raised by God, and that it will seek to be both reactive and relevant to the holistic needs of the individuals and communities that it seeks to serve in the name of Jesus Christ.