Salvation Army Soldier: An Exciting Call to be the Best of the Best

salvation army soldier

If ever the world needed The Salvation Army soldier, it is now. May the Holy Spirit work in us to be the holy, set apart fighting force he has called The Salvation Army to be.


In my post two weeks ago, I explored whether becoming a Salvation Army soldier was now exclusive or inclusive. William Booth’s vision was that becoming a Salvation Army soldier should be available to the worst of the worst, and give them the framework to become the best of the best through the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Salvation Army Soldier Lifestyle

The Salvation Army Soldier’s Covenant is full of lifestyle choices that help us to grow to become the best of the best; the kind of high moral code that Jesus taught too. Here are some examples:

The Work and Leading of the Holy Spirit

  • “I will be responsive to the Holy Spirit’s work and obedient to His leading in my life” (Salvation Army Soldier’s Covenant). “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (Jesus in John 14:26 NIVUK).

Means of Grace

  • “I will [grow] in grace through worship, prayer, service and the reading of the Bible” (Salvation Army Soldier’s Covenant). “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (Jesus in John 4:23-24 NIVUK).

Kingdom Values

  • “I will make the values of the Kingdom of God and not the values of the world the standard for my life” (Salvation Army Soldier’s Covenant). Jesus teaches kingdom values throughout his ministry, including forgiveness, faith, humility and thankfulness (see for example, Luke 17:1-21).

Christian Integrity

  • “I will uphold Christian integrity in every area of my life, allowing nothing in thought, word or deed that is unworthy, unclean, untrue, profane, dishonest or immoral” (Salvation Army Soldier’s Covenant). “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Jesus in Matthew 12:36-37 NIVUK).

Our Relationships

  • “I will maintain Christian ideals in all my relationships with others; my family and neighbours, my colleagues and fellow salvationists, those to whom and for whom I am responsible, and the wider community” (Salvation Army Soldier’s Covenant). There are many instances when Jesus teaches about relationships. Here is just one: “‘The most important [commandment]’, answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”. The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself”. There is no commandment greater than these” (Jesus in Mark 12:29-31 NIVUK).

Marriage and Family Life

  • “I will uphold the sanctity of marriage and of family life” (Salvation Army Soldier’s Covenant). “‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator “made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’” (Jesus in Matthew 19:4-6 NIVUK).

Faithful Stewardship

  • “I will be a faithful steward of my time and gifts, my money and possessions, my body, my mind and my spirit, knowing that I am accountable to God” (Salvation Army Soldier’s Covenant). This is about staying focused. Jesus modelled this throughout his ministry, always remaining true to God’s purposes for him on earth: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Jesus in Luke 19:10 NIVUK).

Winning the World for Jesus

  • “I will be faithful to the purposes for which God raised up The Salvation Army, Salvation Army sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, endeavouring to win others to Him, and in His name caring for the needy and the disadvantaged” (Soldier’s Covenant). “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Jesus in Matthew 18:19-20 NIVUK).

Active Involvement

  • “I will be actively involved, as I am able, in the life, work, worship and witness of the corps, giving as large a proportion of my income as possible to support its ministries and the worldwide work of the Army” (Salvation Army Soldier’s Covenant). “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet” (Jesus in John 13:14 NIVUK) and “All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” (Jesus in Luke 21:4 NIVUK).

Jesus’ Call to High Moral Living

My reading of the gospels is that Jesus didn’t just save and send. There are plenty of occasions where Jesus teaches and expects a high moral code. He continually called his apostles to high moral living (for example, teaching them about servant leadership after James and John had asked for the best seats in the kingdom). Zacchaeus the Tax Collector recognised the proper response to Jesus’ call was to give back more than he owed those he had stolen from.

Jesus doesn’t expect perfection before his disciples can serve, and neither should The Salvation Army. But we shouldn’t shy away from calling people to live a holiness lifestyle either. To be the best of the best. Like Jesus, we shouldn’t condemn those who don’t live up to this lifestyle, especially since those of us who have signed the Soldier’s Covenant often fail to live it out. But we should not think of it as exclusive either: anyone can live out the Soldier’s Covenant with the help of the Holy Spirit.

The Vision

Imagine existing volunteers, partners in the mission and those faithful adherent elders at our centres, along with our faithful soldiers all living the kind of high moral lifestyle that Jesus called to. Imagine a fighting force that was responsive to the Holy Spirit’s work and leading, growing in grace together, embracing kingdom values and rejecting worldly values, upholding Christian integrity in every area of their lives, maintaining Christian ideals in all of their relationships, staying focused on The Salvation Army’s mission by being faithful stewards, sharing the good news and seeking to win the world for Jesus, actively involved in service wherever they are.

If ever the world needed The Salvation Army soldier, it is now. May the Holy Spirit work in us to be the holy, set apart fighting force he has called The Salvation Army to be.

Photo by The Salvation Army USA Central Territory at Why the Uniform?

Salvation Army Soldier FAQ

What it means to be a soldier in The Salvation Army?

To be a soldier in The Salvation Army you must be at least 14 years of age, and in the United Kingdom and Ireland, most will have completed a membership course such as To Serve. All will have signed the Soldier’s Covenant, which sets out the doctrines of The Salvation Army and the lifestyle the soldier will lead as a result.

What are Salvation Army members called?

Most Salvation Army members are soldiers, having signed the Soldier’s Covenant to live a particular lifestyle. You can also be an adherent member, testifying to your relationship with Jesus Christ and your local Salvation Army centre as your spiritual home. There are also other members who attend worship regularly but have not entered into formal membership of The Salvation Army, and are usually known as friends. Local Officers are (usually) soldiers who carry out particular service in a local Salvation Army church (e.g. treasurer, bandmaster). Officers are The Salvation Army’s “clergy”, in full-time service and ministry.

Who wears a Salvation Army uniform?

All Salvation Army officers and soldiers are entitled to wear formal Salvation Army uniform. Officers are usually subject to Minutes setting out what they are expected to wear. Some soldiers choose not to wear uniform. The Salvation Army also produces informal branded wear in many territories, and any member is entitled to wear this.

Can Salvation Army drink alcohol?

Salvation Army soldiers sign the Soldier’s Covenant promising not to drink alcohol, and abstain from “tobacco, the non-medical use of addictive drugs, gambling, pornography, the occult and all else that could enslave the body or spirit.” Other members of The Salvation Army who have not signed this Covenant are permitted to drink alcohol.

What is the highest rank in The Salvation Army?

Only Officers in The Salvation Army holds rank. The highest rank is the General, the worldwide leader of the movement. At the date of this article, the General is Lyndon Buckingham. Other officer ranks (from the most junior to the most senior) are Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Lieutenant-Colonel, Colonel and Commissioner.

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