by Steve Bussey
Did you know that the word "strategy"
comes from the Greek word "strategos," which actually means
"generalship" - the art of being a General? The "strategy" of
the "strategos" had to do with the actual direction of a
The Founder of The Salvation Army,
"Strategos" William Booth understood this through and through.
He modeled for all those who served in his generation - and
for all of us who have continued this mission in succeeding
generations, exactly where our "ONE AIM" should be directed:
towards "THE GLORY OF GOD AND THE SALVATION OF THE WORLD!"
In September 1896, he wrote about how
we might "Keep Souls at the Forefront" of all that we do in
The Salvation Army. You can see a clear demonstration of
"textbook strategic intentionality" that he was seeking to
cultivate in his Army of officers and soldiers. He wanted to
help each of them to see the value of being strategic in our
Here is the quote:
"‘Look where you are going. Make the
best of your time and chance; not by striking hitty-missy, but
by judicious forethought.’ You choose sergeants, arrange
collections, all with consideration, and, personally, my first
thoughts with a crowd are, ‘What are these people?’ ‘How shall
I direct my arrows?’ ‘How can I best bring them down to the
Cross?’ And in the light of the Spirit I do my best. But that
is not to hinder my preparing a general idea of what I shall
say. Nay, the one helps the other. Combine thought and prayer,
and do your utmost, and, in processing of all this, to ‘keep
souls to the front, and God shall give the increase.'”
Let's look deeper at this quote. I'll
provide some commentary in brackets under each statement that
William Booth declares in this quote. I hope this will help
demonstrate for you what an ingenious strategy William Booth
had - and which he hoped to replicate in Salvationists around
the world (and in future generations - principles that remain
strategically relevant to our present age:
General Booth: "‘LOOK WHERE YOU ARE
[We need to have a clear vision - a
clear picture of the future reality we are aiming for. Without
that, we will be aimless].
General Booth: "MAKE THE BEST OF YOUR
TIME AND CHANCE;"
[We need to recognize our stewardship -
that we have limited time and limited resources, thus we have
a moral responsibility to not squander these gifts and
talents. We have
doors of opportunity that, when they open (and they will, by
the grace of God), we must be ready and willing to seize every
opportunity and put it to maximum use for God's purposes. If
we have not prepared for this moment when opportunity strikes,
we will miss it!
This is one of the reasons why we must
always be training for war. Like a military unit will DRILL to
develop SKILLS - we need to LEVERAGE OUR QUIETER MOMENTS to
SHARPEN OUR SWORDS and STRENGTHEN OUR SHIELDS, making these
skills so honed and ready for war, that we are able to SEIZE
THE DAY OF OPPORTUNITY.
Tried and true salvation soldiers will
devote themselves with as much motivation and intense
commitment for preparation as will be given to our
General Booth: "NOT BY STRIKING
HITTY-MISSY, BUT BY JUDICIOUS FORETHOUGHT.’
[We sometimes value EFFICIENCY over
EFFECTIVENESS. GET IT DONE - even if we don't GET IT RIGHT.
A person can set their ladder on a
building and climb quickly to the top - only to realize they
set their ladder on the wrong building... Sometimes our desire
for efficiency can be extremely inefficient because we don't
take the time to assess whether we are actually aiming that
effort in the right direction. As the old saying goes, "Don't
work HARDER, work SMARTER." If we work hard, but it does not
produce kingdom results because we didn't properly aim, we
will burn out, get despondent, and give up. William Booth
warns us to be careful not to fall into the "striking
hitty-missy" (love that description!) state.
On the other hand, we can be trapped in
'analysis-paralysis,' where we are so afraid of getting things
wrong that we don't do anything. We want to be effective, but
we often need to translate THEORIES into EXPERIMENTS and be
comfortable with the fact that we might get some things wrong.
In strategy and innovation studies, there is a principle of
"failing fast" - but doing so in "cheap, quick, and ugly" ways
- developing PROTOTYPES to VALIDATE ideas and, if not,
pivoting to solutions that will demonstrate evidence of
success before scaling them. This is smart thinking that is
not afraid of failure. There is a radical difference between
EXPERIMENTAL FAILURE (which should be praised) and COMPLACENT
FAILURE (which should be discouraged at all costs).
William Booth encourages us to take
time for 'strategic forethought' - but that this must be
JUDICIOUS, recognizing that we must "make the best of our
time" as he stated earlier.]
General Booth: "YOU CHOOSE SERGEANTS,
ARRANGE COLLECTIONS, ALL WITH CONSIDERATION,"
[A great strategist should not simply
come up with ideas, but also ORGANIZE these into a PLAN. But a
plan is useless unless it is IMPLEMENTED... and implementation
requires an Army of PEOPLE who are purposefully united in a
Therefore, the General wisely advises a
great deal of strategic intentionality when it comes to PEOPLE
RESOURCES (our people), PROGRAMMATIC RESOURCES, and other
resources such as property, money, time, etc.
Resources are SCARCE, thus we must
STEWARD our talents to MAXIMAL OUTPUT.
When starting any type of initiative,
carefully consider the following:
(1) WHO can do WHAT?
(2) WHERE and WHEN should this be done?
(3) HOW best can this be done to
accomplish your ultimate WHY?
(4) WHAT will you MEASURE as the KEY
RESULTS of your OBJECTIVES in order to make sure you are
accomplishing your MISSION?
You can see that these questions were
always being asked in the early Salvation Army - and it
produced both QUALITATIVE and QUANTITATIVE RESULTS!]
General Booth: "and personally, my
first thoughts with a crowd are:
(1) ‘WHAT ARE THESE PEOPLE?’
(2) ‘HOW SHALL I DIRECT MY ARROWS?’
(3) 'HOW CAN I BEST BRING THEM DOWN TO
[You can see the strategic intention
that shaped every action the General makes here. He started
with EMPATHY - recognizing there was a UNIQUE set of people
living in a unique time and place, but these unique people
have a universal (not so unique) need, that they must be
BROUGHT TO THE CROSS if there was to be any HOPE truly given
to those very people he empathically cared for!
Linking points 1 and 3 required his 2nd
point, which is the STRATEGIC DECISION of determining HOW best
he should DIRECT his ARROWS.
The word "how" is a strategic statement
of CLARITY. The word "direct" is a strategic statement of
INTENTIONALITY. The word "arrows" is in reference to the
STEWARDSHIP of LIMITED RESOURCES AIMED (with clarity and
intentionality) towards a clearly DEFINED TARGET.
What arrows are in your quiver? How can
you put it to maximal use as a steward of the King of kings
and Lord of lords?
For Booth, his thoughts were aimed at
reconciling PEOPLE to GOD via the cross. This is the essence
of his mission and the essence of our mission. He called this
"THE ONE AIM" - seriously, look at Booths' writings and you
will see this come up again and again.]
General Booth: "AND IN LIGHT OF THE
SPIRIT, I DO MY BEST."
[We do not do this apathetically, but
with EXCELLENCE. Not for the sake of PRESTIGE, but we do our
best because our DEVOTION and our DUTY to our Savior demands
not just part of who we are - but rather our ALL must be laid
on the altar. We give ourselves FULLY to be of maximum use for
God's glory. We CONSECRATE our all to Him. We must DO OUR
BEST. Anything less will not do. This might sound extremely
demanding (it is), but read on to the next part of the quote -
it doesn't end here...]
General Booth: "BUT THAT IS NOT TO
HINDER MY PREPARING A GENERAL IDEA OF WHAT I SHALL SAY. NAY,
THE ONE HELPS THE OTHER. COMBINE THOUGHT AND PRAYER, AND DO
[One of the most misunderstood
statements of William Booth is his statement, "THAT AND BETTER
WILL DO." Many have thought this to be a graceless
perfectionism that is never happy with anything - always
demanding more and more. This is NEVER what the General
Am I just defending William Booth as a
rose-tinted hagiographic fanboy? Not so. I illustrate below:
William Booth's granddaughter,
Catherine Bramwell-Booth, illustrated this principle of going
"beyond your best" in a story of how, when she was a child she
sang and shared a word at the Corps. Upon returning to the
Booth home, she spoke to her grandfather who asked her how it
went. She responded, "Well, I did my best..."
With that, the General almost roared at
her, scaring her at first and saying, "Your best? YOUR BEST??
If THAT is all you are going to do, you will be no use to me,
this Army, or God!" - kind of shocking, right? But she goes on
to share how, after these prophetic words of sharp and holy
rebuke, he pastorally said with a loving and healing balm,
"You see when a person is FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, they
can do BETTER THAN THEIR BEST."
Catherine never forgot that - and for
over a century, her life was one that remained holy and
strategically devoted to God's aim for her life - and God
multiplied her impact exponentially!
Should we aim to do our best? Of
course. Consecration is OUR ACT of devotion - but consecration
without the sanctifying POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT will
accomplish ONLY A LITTLE...
William Booth understood that ADDITION
becomes MULTIPLICATION when a consecrated individual is filled
with the supernatural power that comes from on High - from the
HOLY SPIRIT RULING AND REIGNING in the deepest recesses of the
BODY, SOUL AND SPIRIT! WHAT A PRIVILEGE!!
Such a DIVINE-HUMAN PARTNERSHIP is
STRATEGICALLY THE BEST way for His work to be accomplished
Hence, when PRAYER and THOUGHT are
combined, GOD BECOMES THE ULTIMATE STRATEGIST - guiding us to
how we might do the UTMOST for HIS GLORY.]
General Booth: "AND, IN PROCESSING ALL
OF THIS, TO 'KEEP SOULS TO THE FRONT, AND GOD SHALL GIVE YOU
[Today, we would call this "keeping the
MAIN THING the MAIN THING!" (nod to the "7 Habits" book
written in the early 1990s by Steven Covey). Just as a
clarification, because this too has been grossly misunderstood
today - when William Booth says, to "KEEP SOULS" - he is not
JUST talking about our eternal reality. Some have misconstrued
the entire narrative of "soul winning" to be a rejection of
any type of temporal ministry. This was NEVER what the term
meant - anyone who has read Wesleyan or Salvationist historic
doctrine would see this term means something more than a
"Casper the friendly ghost" view of soul...
The SOUL for Wesleyans speaks to that
part of us that is the very core of the IMAGO DEI (moral image
of God) - that which intersects both body (temporal) and
spirit (eternal). This is the very core of who we are as human
beings - the part of the image of God that is "dead in
transgressions" because of the curse of sin - and must be
"born again" or "regenerated" so that "the Spirit can bear
witness with our spirits that we are children of God."
To strategically aim for the soul is to
aim for the bullseye that justifies us from all guilt (the
BLOOD of Jesus) and awakens the work of the Holy Spirit in us
(the FIRE of the Holy Spirit) - and enables us to enjoy the
FULL BENEFITS of the UNMERITED GRACE OF GOD - Grace that both
JUSTIFIES and SANCTIFIES and PRESERVES OUR STATE OF
BLAMELESSNESS only possible by the ATONING WORK OF CHRIST and
the REFINING WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT!
When we make THIS our AIM, He makes
very clear that GOD will multiply HIS INCREASE in our mission.
Why would we not long to be SOUL WINNERS? A smart strategist
knows to AIM FOR THE ROOT - and when the ROOT OF BITTERNESS is
replaced with the ROOT OF HOLINESS, my friends we will have
both REVIVAL and REFORM in THIS GENERATION!
What you have done in past generations
- THAT AND GREATER, PLEASE DO!
THAT, my friends, is some seriously
strategic thinking on William Booth's part! His wise counsel
continues to speak to us today! I pray we will heed these
strategic words of wisdom from our founding strategos!].