Saturday, August 01, 2009

Formality or Fear?

Recently, I have had a few conversations which have given me pause to think. I have had several people introduce themselves by there rank. I have known or been friendly with these people for some time. This was followed up by a conversation where a respected friend talked to me about how the fiber of the movement was being eroded because his officer (who by the way he calls by his first name) allowed the kids in his congregation use his first name when conversing with him.

I have also had people tell me that this formality issue is a matter of respect. I used to think that way. The more I see it, I believe it is a matter of pride. More than anything, it is not just a cultural thing, it is a, I believe a matter of deriving worth from position instead of personal relationship. I have people who have really no idea of my title or rank. They respect me and love me, because I love them! We talk about deep things.

I have other had people tell me that you have to have a title. You could not just use your name? I would imagine that would make you vulnerable.

I thought at first this was generational. I have found this idea of ultra formality has gone into generations younger than me.

I know that I am a major. It just does not shape who I am or make me a better person.

This is a shorter post. I think it is an important one though.

Is being formal important? Is it a matter of respect? Is it a matter of pride? Am I just missing the point?

What do you think?


Blogger Here's Life said...

Great post! Not sure if you’re familiar with Tim Keller, but he recently spoke for Here’s Life Inner City ( at our Campus Crusade staff conference this July. He spoke about Christian responsibility to the poor, among other insightful subjects. Thought you might like to take a look at the video. Feel free to share it with friends and readers. It’s available here: Also, would love to have you join iHope at, where you can dialogue about inner-city poverty and homelessness. Thanks again for the great post!

1:43 PM  
Blogger Larry said...


I am familiar with Tim Keller. I will look at the link.

Do I know you?

5:42 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

I have to tell you that I struggle with this issue as well. I am completely uncomfortable with people calling me by my rank as if I deserve any more respect than them.

I also have had many people say to me that it was a respect issue, and then those who say that I cannot introduce myself as Sue because then they will think they can call me that.

In my realm of thinking, which is minimal at best, :) respect is earned. Whether they call me Sue or Major or Major Sue....whatever, if I do not care about them or treat them with kindness then I have no respect no matter what they call me. They will see me for who I am not for what I am called.

Maybe it's a respect that is forced or demanded. I guess that's bad as well because in a case like then often we wonder why does it have to be demanded.

On the other hand, Tom introduces himself like that sometimes just out of shear habit.

Commissioner Bassett told us once that someone had asked him how he dealt with one day sitting in the company of Presidents and dignitaries and the next day retired. He told us that he learned very early that they did not want Todd Bassett, they wanted The Salvation Army. We cannot allow our "rank" to become our identity.

So my comments ended up longer than your post.

And no you do not know me..... :)

12:55 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

New to your blog. I haven't quite caught on yet, what is the "movement" you refer to.

9:51 PM  
Blogger jeff said...

where have you been friend?

12:17 AM  

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