K. KENDALL MATTHEWS: Moving from client to Christian soldier

Sunday, October 17, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 7:01 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A homeless man asked me, “What do I need to do to change my life?” I said to him, “Take on the mind of Christ and turn away from the things that caused you to be homeless.” Now, that’s easier said than done, but there must be a change of mind, body and soul. Not just a short-term change, but an everlasting change, from the inside out. 

This man was willing to take steps to change, by first asking the question, “What do I need to do?” You see, we all must take ownership of our actions if we want to make life alterations that lead to change. Self-awareness for the Christian soldier is likely found in the dark parts of our innermost soul — areas where the sunlight of God’s renewing love has rarely or never penetrated. Change is painful at first, but with time, the miracle of self-examination is well worth it before God. 

In many segments of society, clients in recovery often are viewed as being incapable of executing responsibilities of life because of past styles of living and perhaps an unwillingness to change. This is a misinterpretation of people we serve or an unjust designation for the recovery community. Many still believe this social label, which has the potential to damage their self-esteem, placing them in a state of merry-go-round relapse. Hence, we need to share a concept that can enable our clients to think positively about their recovery and that can make a world of difference, as we look reinforce this practical concept I call Upward Mobility from Client to Christian Soldier. 

The Bible says, “Let this mind be in you that is also in Christ Jesus” Philippians 2:5.   It has become clear to me through the years that we must be relentless in encouraging our social service consumers to be soldiers of The Salvation Army and inform them that it is to their eternal benefit to take on the mind Christ as they seek to reclaim their life and recover from substance abuse. Christian relapse prevention starts with taking on the mind of Christ and asking Him to search our thoughts and remove those things that instigate sinful ways.  “Search me, O God, and know me; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”  Psalms 139: 23-24.  It is redirecting the clients’ thought processes of themselves, and changing the negative attitude of self, to positive thinking about their self-worth — from ungodly styles of living to living out Christ-likeness boldly in the face of personal difficulty.

This type of upward thinking has the power to cause clients to feel good about who they are as a part of God’s family. Some of our clients within The Salvation Army Shelters and Rehabilitation Centers units have a low self esteem due to their addictions that lead them to repeat the cycle of substance abuse. They need their old mind (spirit) completely stripped away from the inside out, to a safe and sound mind (spirit) of Christ Jesus, our Lord for all to witness. The scripture verse “Old things have passed away, and behold all things have become new,” takes on an optimism for the client as they search for a renewed life and steadfast mind.  

“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peaceRomans 8:6. The model of Upward Mobility for the client can reinforce Godly thinking, because our clients’ exposure to worldly living has often resulted in negative behaviors that override Godliness. Christ lived out His salvation for us all every time the evil one attempted to deceive Him to succumb to temptation. Human wisdom, feelings of low self-esteem or negative conduct about an earthly encounter for Christ did not affect His belief system. His mind was made up, because He was on His way up because He knew that one day, He was going home to be with the Lord. Hence, our clients must retain the mind of Christ in order to fight against the schemes of Satan. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm” Ephesians 6:12. It is all about getting the clients to change their thought process of past sins committed, and getting them to realize that Christ died for those sins, to be remembered no more. 

Upward Mobility says that greater is Christ who lives in our clients mind, than the addictive things that in are in the world.  Upward Mobility means to provide our social service clients in substance abuse treatment settings with the opportunities to modify their mindset and progress upwardly in all areas of their life, with active assistance from soldiers, officers, and friends involved in our local corps centers for worship and services.

The six stages of Upward Mobility promote the responsibilities of changing one’s self to the mind of Christ, during their treatment process, which includes practical and spiritual assistance from our local corps centers of worship and service. The following will briefly explain the individual stages of development for the client in recovery that have the potential to move a person upwardly to soldiership in God’s great Salvation Army.

Upward Mobility:  Stages of Development
  • Treatment Process — In this stage, the clients have reached their limit of substance abuse.
  • Extend a Welcome to the Client — As the song says, “There’s a welcome here,   there’s Christian welcome here.”
  • Open Spirit at the Corps — Whether it’s traditional or nontraditional, the client must feel loved and accepted.
  • Mentorship Between Client and Local Soldier — Mentoring with the Master’s message of peace, and passion will help the client to make the changes from sin to salvation. 
  • Soldiership Course — In some churches, this course is called “New Members Class,” but as Salvationists, we know it as learning the doctrines.
  • Soldier of The Salvation Army — Here the client has become an active soldier, involved in their local corps’ center of worship and service. 

We need to encourage our clients to take a step forward to change their old ways and become new as they look unto Christ who is their Alpha and Omega. As Christ leads us, let us think on the things that will have eternal value for the clients who came to us for social services.    

Our clients are pressing on the upward way, new heights they can gain everyday, still praying, as they onward bound. Lord, plant our clients’ mind on higher ground. Lord, lift them up and let them stand, by faith on heavens table land, a higher ground that they have found, Lord plant their mind on higher ground.  “This is our life work:  helping people understand and respond to this message.”  The Message Bible.

Major K. Kendall Mathews is the regional coordinator for The Salvation Army.

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