Monday, May 18, 2009

Very Rank?

Well, this one has been simmering for a bit. Several years back then General John Gowans asked whether or not we should flatten the rank system. He did somewhat, by changing the Lt. designation.

I have struggled to see a theological defence for the system. I have come to the conclusion that it is part of our polity. In other words, it is part of our organizational structure. There are ranks.

I have also struggled though with rank being a very prideful thing for many people. Some would argue that rank affirms people and there ought to be more ranks. I am thinking there might be a bit of insecurity and misplaced values if you need a title to affirm you as a person.

Some would say that rank is not important. I agree. So if they are not important, why do we place such an emphasis on them? I also wonder why we use them to refer to each other in meetings especially in those business meetings where we have known each other as friends for years.

Some say that it is a matter of respect. I am not sure that is accurate. People are respected not positions. I have had people wonder why I don't require people to use my rank (even kids) when referring to me. I am not really fussed about my rank. I know what I do, who I am and know my designation. It matters little to me if people know or care about that as long as we can connect on a personal level and converse about the Kingdom.

Then there is in the Western world a somewhat negative reaction to the militaristic metaphor. I think the scriptural metaphor of war is accurate, but the militaristic metaphor is something different. It worked really well in our founding days. I think, especially in the States it worked well to attract people because of the culture of the day. Civil War vets would march behind a flag and band and they could relive old glory days. As the years have gone on, I believe people on the outside now see it as an oddity. I might be wrong. I am just reacting on this anectodally.

As you can tell, titles are not a big deal to me. What I do is. I am still not sure where I stand on this whole rank system. There are some days I do see its use, other days I am not sure it is a good thing.

Is it a prideful thing? Is a piece of our polity whose day has past? Is it something that I should not even worry about? I am interested to know....

What do you think?


Blogger HS said...

since probably 90% of the ranks in TSA are solely based on years served,(and probably 98% of corps officers' ranks are based solely on years served) it doesn't seem to matter much - and particularly doesn't mean much outside of our ranks. Perhaps the more important question, Larry, is that of affirming one another in ways that honor God and encourage those in our midst. having time for each other, listening to our stories, sharing the truths of the word as well as words of grace to each other - those are what affirm, not ranks. (plus, those of us in the know realize that if you sit in the right seat at FET . . .)

8:39 PM  
Blogger Rob Reardon said...

With every passing day, my view of rank diminishes. I'm a captain in a place where there is only one other captain, my wife. I'm not sure about her feelings, but I know that I am reminded of my standing most days of the week. In this place, we are rarely referred to by name; it's always by rank - some even see it necessary to remind others of their appointment by leaving rank & name out of a greeting.

I think my nerves may be a tad raw at this point, but I believe that by using rank (and appointment) to speak to others eliminates the need to get personal and allows people to stay at arm's length from each other. It's almost the same as greeting someone in passing by saying, "How are you?" with no intention of staying long enough to find out how that person is actually doing. I don't believe that corporately we want to get personal and ranks help keep it that way.

7:23 AM  
Blogger jsi said...

I have experienced that rank has eliminated the necessity to know a person's name (and as I read your other comments, it is expressed in paraphrase by JoAnn and Rob) Making time for each other and sharing in grace has to include the ever-important task of knowing someone's name. The previous turnstiles of leadership at my present appointment has brought to the surface that someone "spoke to the Major/Captain/Lt/Sergeant/Corporal about this in **** and would like to revisit the topic" but doesn't remember who the person was. There have been a myriad of people appointed here, with dramatically different opinions, visions and personalities...if their name was not remembered I am caught in an initial limbo: what were they trying to do?
Whenever I use my rank with my name people remember that I am Kathryn Jesse Owens, not Capt. Jessie Irwin.
Rank can get tied in a knot - names are never disrespectful.

7:28 AM  
Blogger Bob Deidrick said...

The ranks are changing. In the Western Territory some corps have "Administrators" instead of officer rank. Both officer and employee love the Lord and assist the army in it's mission. I no longer have any rank.
I retired my commission. I am known to some now as a former officer. Maybe so but far from a former Christian.The danger in the army is to be aware to the fact that an imbalance could happen. That would be too much army and not enough salvation.

1:46 AM  

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